Cryptocurrency felon during and after prison

Cryptocurrency felon during and after prison

Previous blockchain blogpost

Charlie Shrem was among the pioneer public faces of cryptocurrency. He co-founded a startup company in 2011 called BitInstant that was one of the earliest cryptocurrency companies processing a third of all Bitcoin transactions. In 2015, Shrem went to prison for two years for aiding an unlicensed money transmitter acquire Bitcoins to trade in the underground marketplace, where it was used to buy drugs. It was a felony that is the first of its kind in the crypto world.

Charlie Shrem entered prison in 2015 after medicating himself with vodka just before his incarceration. In the federal prison camp in Pennsylvania, Charlie Shrem began frequenting the library. It became Charlie Shrem’s sanctuary where he would stay in for hours and read 137 books.

Value of currency

Shrem found himself mulling over the question of what made money worth anything

Shrem found himself mulling over the question of what made money worth anything


Shrem found himself mulling over the question of what made money worth anything. Luckily, the jail economy provided the answer as the prison had its cash, mainly packets of mackerel. For those prison inmates in Lewisburg, sachets of mackerel were an ideal form of coins. Inmates serving long sentences would use stockpiles of mackerel as a store of value, much like a savings account. Gradually he came to believe that the acceptance of any form of money is mostly a social convention. But it was true that some features could make one currency more suitable than another.

Halfway house life

In 2016, Charlie Shrem was transferred to a halfway house and says that living not merely with embezzlers, drug dealers, and fraudsters, but also with murderers, child molesters, and bank robbers was worse than prison. One of the conditions of residency at the house was gainful employment and making money via Internet did not qualify. Therefore, during his time in the halfway house, Shrem worked as a dishwasher for $8 an hour. 

Life after prison

After serving time in prison, the 27-year old Bitcoin pioneer was looking for a real comeback. It was a time when Bitcoin and other digital currencies were about to explode in epic proportions, and their value had already risen to up to six times its previous price. When he tried to visit an online exchange, one of his old haunts, where he had once played with altcoins, he found that all familiar landmarks had gone. The website no longer existed and even the jargon and terminology had changed drastically. It was humbling for Shrem to realize that the Bitcoin community had changed in his absence. 

Rise from fall

Out of the gates, Bitcoin’s first felon took the same stance with the blockchain industry and set about catching up on everything he missed. He gracefully rose from his fall and found a new mission with a determination. Since his release, he started building the Internet’s future by strengthening the ecosystem of the blockchain. In this newly diverse ecosystem, Shrem has positioned himself to play a significant role not only as a coder but also as a connector. Although, after his comeback, he has fallen once on the wrong side, he claims that he is different now. 

Virtual money rivalry

Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies

When Shrem was one of the first in the game, Bitcoin was the only virtual currency. Now that it has given rise to more kinds of digital money, he is embracing the transformation. He agrees with other pioneers that there will be not just one supreme digital currency but instead many because there is a crypto-pluralism taking hold right now. That may make Shrem the perfect poster child, as cryptocurrencies transition from a form of exchange favored by those who reviled any establishment into a rapidly growing mainstream system. The old Shrem and the likes were not above taking advantage of such a situation either. 

Dash debit card

As Dash took off, Shrem decided to get involved and proposed creating a prepaid debit card. The cardholder can load it with coins, convert them into dollars and use it at any company that accepts a Dash debit card. That way hundreds of millions of digital dollars can enter the mainstream economy. Dash-funded debit cards are several, but Shrem’s innovation would be the first to be used in America. Eventually, it allowed users to convert cash into Bitcoins at conventional banks such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, at hundreds of thousands of locations across Russia, America, and Brazil including 7-Eleven and Walmart. His plan garnered overwhelming support because people within the Dash universe take someone like Shrem very seriously and reputation plays an important role. Its price shot up to $266/- from $50/- and Shrem became a millionaire overnight again. But expecting more than that was foolhardy and he decided that it is better to let each cryptocurrency do what it does best. 

Digital token sales

Having seen that the new frontier was token sales, Charlie Shrem became the technology officer of a startup, Intellisys Capital, that he predicted would revolutionise the investment world. The plan was to raise funds by issuing blockchain digital tokens as initial coin offerings. The issue was that under American law this would undoubtedly be classified as a security. The decision was made by the company to bar British and American citizens from participating in it to avoid legal trouble. But the idea also had other drawbacks as they would have to depend on partners to vet investors for them. Shrem was back in pitch mode and became the face of the venture, touting Intellisys to the public and the press. He described the proof of concept, a waste-management company, as the fund’s first investment. 

Mired with doubts

As the date approached, Shrem had doubts in his mind and began to get cold feet. A person, already convicted of a financial crime once, selling security would bring intense scrutiny. This thought increasingly made him nervous, restless and sleepless for months leading to the sale. Fortunately for Shrem, fate intervened, and he decided to walk away because it was a bomb. It was easier to take a risk and tarnish his reputation than live in constant fear all his life. 

Taking it easy

Charlie

Charlie

The failure of Intellisys cost him, but Charlie Shrem wants to make the right comeback. He had moved with his fiancée to Sarasota and is living with her in a rented pink townhouse. His abundant off-hours, he spends on relaxing on the beach, boating, eating in upmarket restaurants, and Jet Skiing. Today Shrem is more patient and mellower and less arrogant and cocky than in the past.

Coming up next:

Today, many of the blockchain assets are tokens that are distributed as initial coin offerings. It constitutes the Internet’s second business model. Associated jobs have soared as its value has risen. Candidates who understand initial coin offerings, know how to write smart contracts, and have a good understanding of Ethereum would have an extra competitive edge. Interested applicants should read up the online literature on how blockchain works and be aware of the basics before applying in the field.

First felony in the cryptocurrency world

First felony in the cryptocurrency world

Previous blockchain blogpost

Some businesses and companies prefer to stick to their past, but this is not a good marketing strategy. Instead, it is essential to take a progressive approach and look out for the next big thing. That is what happens when companies begin to accept Bitcoin payment that put them in a position for greater success. Embracing the power of this new blockchain technology shows the customers and prospects of a business that it is well ahead of the curve.

Charlie Shrem comes from a predominantly Jewish and Russian neighborhood in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. His father used to work at a jewelry store, and his mother looked after his sisters and him. Awkward and shy, Shrem blossomed when he discovered that he had a passion for computers. Charlie Shrem learned computer programming and started engaging in hacker forums. While in Brooklyn College in 2009, he co-founded a deals site known as Daily Checkout and fell in love with sales.

Earliest Cryptocurrency Company

BitInstant

BitInstant Source: Coindesk

Charlie Shrem, a promoter’s promoter, was among the pioneer public faces of cryptocurrency. Shrem saw value when Bitcoins were worth practically nothing or maybe a few dollars each. Shrem claimed he was among the ten people globally to find out about Bitcoin. By 2011, he was well known in the network of Bitcoin and co-founded a startup company called BitInstant. He became the Chief Executive Officer of Bitinstant that was one of the earliest and most significant cryptocurrency companies processing a third of all Bitcoin transactions. It helped people obtain digital money and transfer it between exchanges.

Partnering for support

Shrem partnered with Gareth Nelson, a Welsh coder, and handled the business end, managing to raise funds from Roger Ver, an angel investor, and from his mom. But one person who refused to invest warned Shrem that BitInstant had no safeguards to protect against money laundering. That was fine with Shrem as a substantial portion of the clientele were users of Silk Road. These people needed to exchange dollars for Bitcoins to buy drugs on the black market. There was a middleman, a plumber in Florida by the name of Robert Faiella who had a business obtaining Bitcoins for these users.

Abetting with crime

Shrem soon found out what Faiella was up to and helped him source money for drug transactions, rather than shutting him down. Shrem’s partner, as well as the cash-processing company of BitInstant, wanted to stop it. But Shrem encouraged Faiella to disguise his identity using a new email address and username. The flow of money went on until Shrem eventually cut him off in 2012 when Faiella pleaded guilty to running an unlicensed money-transmitting business. By the time he went to prison for four years in jail, he had laundered a million dollar through BitInstant.

Vision with swagger

By 2012, Shrem was a young Chief Executive Officer, a motor-mouthed cocky capitalist, and a proud pothead. He had swaggering ambitions as he wanted to turn BitInstant into the Apple of Bitcoin and his company soon would be processing a massive chunk of all Bitcoin transactions. When a payment processor cut all connections with Bitcoin companies under pressure from MasterCard and partner banks, leaving customer funds stranded, it was BitInstant that hacked together a solution to let users withdraw their money.

Bitinstant gaining traction

Bitinstant raised $1.5 million, most of it from Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the twin brothers, who had a venture capital firm

The company raised $1.5 million from Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss Source: CNBC

Bitinstant raised $1.5 million, most of it from Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the twin brothers, who had a venture capital firm. The company helped them buy their first Bitcoins. Since then they were hooked. After raising funds, the company’s future looked bright, and Bitinstant became an industry barometer because crypto-economy depended on rapid money transfers. In early 2013, during the Cypriot financial crisis, when bank accounts for regular citizens taxed them 6.75%, Bitcoin suddenly became a haven.

Chaotic early days

Charlie Shrem embodied the legally questionable, chaotic early days of cryptocurrency. Two of Shrem’s best friends quit Bitinstant due to a dispute with the investors. Something went out of Shrem with the departure of his two best friends who were his confidants. He seemed distracted, spent the night partying, sleeping in and showing up late to work. Meanwhile, the site was straining under the traffic surge, leading to waves of complaints. A platform upgrade became mired in legal concerns and technical problems. It became clear that Bitinstant had been operating without licenses, and the cost of acquiring them would be prohibitive. Bitinstant that made Shrem a Bitcoin millionaire eventually went bust and shut down in 2013 as it was all too much for everyone concerned to carry on.

Bitcoin foundation speaker

Shrem became an overnight sensation when he featured in a documentary about the new virtual phenomenon. He co-founded the Bitcoin foundation, which was the first nonprofit advocacy organization for the digital currency. He then flew to Argentina on a Bitcoin foundation mission because by then Shrem had become a proselytizer and a speaker at industry conferences. His business was now himself and not BitInstant as he began to charge speaking fees as all the while his life was a whirlwind of deal-making and partying. Everywhere he went he kept telling people that he is rebuilding BitInstant.

Crime caught up

At first, Shrem got away unscathed as he was enjoying his freedom. He took a vacation to Morocco with his girlfriend, Courtney Warner, where he tried opium. In 2014 it caught up with Shrem when he was arrested in Amsterdam as he was returning from a speech.

Arguments for defense

Robert Faiella

Robert Faiella Source: CBC

Shrem argued his case first by advancing the notion that individuals can spend their money the way they want it as long as it is not harmful to anyone else. And second, at the time he was helping Faiella, the government had not decided how to regulate or even classify Bitcoin. If they had not yet determined whether it acknowledged Bitcoin as money, how could that amount to laundering? Shrem did not know whether the law he had violated was just and had wanted to raise these issues but his lawyers advised against it.

Bitcoins buy drugs

In 2015, Charlie Shrem eventually went to federal prison for two years after pleading guilty. He was abetting and aiding an unlicensed money transmitter client, Robert Faiella acquire Bitcoins to trade in the underground marketplace, where it was used to buy drugs. It was a felony that is considered to be the first of its kind in the digital currency world. Although other Bitcoiners had broken the law, Shrem was the first to be imprisoned.

Coming up next:

Charlie Shrem the first Bitcoin felon went to federal prison in 2015 for 2 years. Upon his release he went about strengthening the ecosystem of blockchain. A real breakthrough came when he created a prepaid Dash debit card. He then joined Intellisys Capital and decided to raise funds in the form of initial coin offering but was mired with doubts, as he feared the intense scrutiny from the authorities and eventually backed off.

The scope of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies

The scope of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies

Previous blockchain blogpost

Cryptocurrency is a digital payment maintained by a network of computers that uses cryptography to authenticate transactions. Depending on how investors expect to make money and how they are structured, some cryptocurrencies may count as securities. If traders of these currencies prop up the price and go online to spread gossips, that might count as fraud. It can be hard to determine if a bubble exists. The only way to ensure that they avoid a burst is mass adoption.

The first digital currency was Bitcoin mined by millions of people in different locations around the world. It was Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, who built its decentralized system that anyone could participate in, but no one could own. Although it was open to all, ironically, Bitcoin transactions were supposed to be anonymous. When Bitcoin came into being in 2009, the promise was to be the universal electronic currency that passed around the world in minutes. However, Bitcoin has qualities that make it not only a coin but also a store of value and a network of payments.

Store of value

The exponential jump in the rate of Bitcoin has stoked interest from big banks and even Wall Street. For example, in 2010, using the forum bitcointalk.org, a developer bought two pizzas by paying Bitcoins for the purchase. Fast-forward a few years, and the value of that Bitcoins shot up to 425 million dollars. They are now trading for more than $2,600/- but hardly anything to spend it on.

Network of payments

The software stores a continuously updated ledger that records all Bitcoin transactions. The code sets the scarcity of Bitcoin, and mining introduces new Bitcoins at regular intervals. This form of earning Bitcoins consists of solving the math problems necessary to confirm transactions. Successful solving of those problems using mathematical calculations triggers the creation of more currency.

Limitations of Bitcoins

A civil war is over the future of Bitcoin ever since its launch, and it is already showing strain. Bitcoin’s share of the market cap of all cryptocurrencies fell from 85% to 41%. Its price has soared and not dropped, but many rivals have risen even faster. Moreover, the Bitcoin network can only process seven transactions a second due to code limitations. This quantity is trifling considering that the system aspires to serve the masses. As the load increases, it takes time to confirm transactions, and customers have been at odds. The bickering threatens to condemn Bitcoin to obsolescence or divide the currency into two versions. All in all, although Bitcoin allows the transfer of value, it is slower and more limited in its capacity than some of its latest rivals.

Biggest cryptocurrency competitor

One of the biggest among the competitors of Bitcoin is Darkcoin, a portmanteau of digital cash. Part of the stellar success of Dash is due to Bitcoin’s flaws and limitations. This cryptocurrency emerged following Bitcoin’s rise in price in January 2014. Dash is one of the most popular digital currencies because it promised untraceable transactions. Although it saw plenty of dumping, its creator continued to add new features and refine the software. In 2015 it was rebranded as Dash so that it would not be mistaken for a single-feature coin. Gradually Dash gained legitimacy, and its currency’s total value has grown every year.

Advantages of Dash

A new payment method has to be easier to use, more secure and faster than others to attract customers. Bitcoin and the other digital currencies in the market fail on all these three metrics. Dash has functions and features to address such concerns and weaknesses that most others do not have. Also, Dash offers its users a quick send feature that is as easy as using a credit card. People who hold 1,000 coins and above are required to submit all future projects for a vote. The benefit of such a system is that it is a decentralized network that allows making decisions rapidly, avoiding conflicts such as that of Bitcoin, which has no way to compel anybody to adopt a new version.

The next version of Dash will include features that protect against fraud or theft such as moderated transactions. This function would allow funds to be released only upon the receipt of products, and vault accounts, which can stop an impending withdrawal of funds within 24 hours. The goal is to have a medium of exchange that can facilitate everyday commerce. The one of its kind governance system of Dash is its clearest innovation, one that is impossible to replicate.

Smartest cryptocurrency competitor

Ethereum’s creators have built a network that allows developers to create agreements written into the software. These intelligence contracts can dispense funds and perform functions automatically in response to triggers.

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Emergence of altcoins

Many of the players in the digital currency world, known as altcoins, were exclusively used as vehicles for use-and-discard schemes. An altcoin’s creator would often pour funds into a coin and build hype. Novices would jump in, the price would spike, investors would throw them away, and the amount would plunge downward.

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Bitcoin versus altcoins

People use many of the currencies younger than Bitcoin for much more versatile purposes. That means Bitcoin faces a threat from more nimble competitors such as Litecoin, Zcash, and Monero. On the other hand, just as Bitcoin struggle against the American dollar, new cryptocurrencies face an uphill battle against Bitcoin, which has the most significant user base and the broadest name recognition.

Today, there are many digital currencies in the world worth billions of dollars

Today, there are many digital currencies in the world worth billions of dollars

Total market value

Today, there are many digital currencies in the world worth billions of dollars. In 2017, digital currencies in aggregate had a total market value of approximately $100 billion. Based on market cap, the price of digital currencies can be possibly ten times that of the most significant companies.

Cryptocurrency becoming mainstream

People are using cryptocurrency wallets because retailers are now starting to accept them. Japan’s new legislation in April 2017 and Australia’s in July allows retailers to take Bitcoin as a legal tender. Ten financial institutions have put enough trust in Bitcoin that they use Ripple to send payments in real-time. There is a consensus among 56 companies worldwide on scaling Bitcoin, reaching an agreement on a settlement process.

Driver of innovation

Blockchain will disrupt every business, and digital currencies will drive new company model innovation, accelerating and scaling business outcomes at unprecedented levels. This revolution could be either a bubble or the onset of a financial realignment. Therefore, investors are cautiously bullish on the success of blockchain, which is crypto currency’s groundbreaking technology.

Coming up next:

Blockchain technology represents a seismic shift like that of email and web in the 90s and Facebook and Twitter a decade later.This innovative technology also makes Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies possible without centralized authority. But cryptocurrencies are just the tip of the iceberg, much bigger and more essential things lie below the surface. Blockchain technology has the potential to create countless opportunities everywhere. 21.co, a blockchain startup founded by Dr. Balaji Srinivasan, is a compelling case in point.

Creation of value through blockchain technology

Creation of value through blockchain technology

Previous blockchain blogpost:

We are experiencing a significant shift in the real estate industry, as more and more people are engaging in property transactions using Bitcoin. Many industry experts are excited about the potential for digital money and the blockchain technology when it comes to real estate. But although digital currency transaction is the future, industry insiders say that we are not quite there as yet. Digital money analysts are less convinced that the property market would more widely adopt the cryptocurrency.

Creation of value through blockchain technology

The blockchain is the culmination of all the platforms such as Napster, Skype, and BitTorrent that operate on peer-to-peer networks. It is the infrastructure of the digital currency and is described as an open, shared, and distributed ledger. A process known as cryptography creates digital currencies and additional units of them. It also verifies the transfer of assets and secures the cryptocurrency transactions in the blockchain.

Global peer network

The blockchain is a network that verifies every transaction, which then becomes a new block of data. Blocks are nothing but lists of linked records that keep growing continuously. When this data gets added to the blockchain, the recorded value is available to all the users of the network. This revolutionary technology is maintained simultaneously across millions of computers without any central data storage. In short, blockchain is a spreadsheet that can record verifiable transactions efficiently and permanently.

Value exchange network

Fans and advocates of the technology hail it as an efficient global network of value exchange. A very high level of security within the blockchain technology leaves no room for failure. Part of the efficiency is because of its ability to generate value for the community of keepers. In the real estate industry blockchain enables to store authentic online documents, draw digital smart contracts, and keeps the identities of the parties anonymous.

Authentic online documents

While accepting digital payments in real estate transactions is new, this cannot change the status quo. It can only change if the government used blockchain to store all the data of the industry there. If blockchain can facilitate moving land records to an immutable online ledger, no one could go back and manufacture records out of thin air. A huge benefit of such an initiative would be fraud prevention, which amounts to someone producing false paper documents that look authentic.

Digital smart contracts

If verified and quality data about potential buyers and properties were available on the blockchain, it is possible to draw intelligent treaties. These are legal agreements written in computer code with programmed rules to direct the flows of money. No more sit-downs between escrow agents, lawyers, and brokers to review paper documents. The system would have it all and would run smoothly and quickly, provided the data regarding properties and people in the blockchain is accurate.

Parties remain anonymous

Cryptocurrency payments offer anonymity because they are digital that in some cases require just an email address to acquire them. Blockchain could protect the buyer’s anonymity by allowing interested parties to ask questions without revealing who the person behind it was. The fact that the owners can also remain anonymous is a significant appeal to some in the luxury real estate market.

Bottlenecks of implementation

While all sounds great on paper, for everything to work seamlessly, it still needs a lot of things in place. The first challenge comes down to how to authenticate and qualify the data for the real estate sector. Moreover, there are severe logjams in the real estate industry with the manual dissemination and collection of data. Then there are questions about how to regulate or tax those purchases; how to deal with Bitcoin payments that stay in the native cryptocurrency, versus those that people convert to cash; and who has access to query and search data in the blockchain. Although blockchain and cryptocurrencies are here to stay, that will require stakeholders including real estate attorneys, escrow agents, and brokers to get involved.

Digital wealth creators

Currency

Currency

Nowadays there are smart platforms in the crypto industry that create wealth and value. The platforms allow people to lend Bitcoins and receive daily interest on the investment. But first Bitcoin has to be transferred to an account, and all transactions will have to be with Bitcoin.

Emerging crypto investment

The crypto business and the hype behind blockchain remind us clearly of the tech stock and dotcom manias of the 1990s. It sounds a bit like the early days of the Internet, which blossomed when investors were chasing the most speculative stocks that did not end well. Capital One, a software company, is a case in point that went public at $21/- a share. By the end of the year, the share price surged to $1,000/-, however, five years later it filed for bankruptcy.

Largest Bitcoin exchange

Mt. Gox

Mt. Gox

However great the promises, technology always have one mitigating factor, and that is humans. A few years ago, Mt. Gox, the Bitcoin exchange, built on the blockchain, burned and crashed. When it filed for bankruptcy, a large number of Bitcoins went missing from the accounts because of a problem with its code. Mt. Gox was not the only digital enterprise that went down. There were many others too. But that does not by any means mean that Bitcoin is a bubble waiting to be burst.

Concerns by authorities

As traders and investors have bid up Bitcoin’s price higher and higher, the Securities and Exchange Commission have suspended trading of some firms, most notably The Crypto Company. The Security Exchange Commission authorities cite concerns regarding the adequacy and accuracy of information about compensation paid and plans for insider sales. Lately, it has also taken steps to crack down on potential scams and frauds surrounding digital currencies, especially with initial coin offerings. The sale of a digital token to investors instead of stock is known as initial coin offerings. Several cryptocurrency officials are worried about the industry getting a bad name too. Hence they are willing to cooperate with Security Exchange Commission and other regulators to weed out bad actors.

Hopeful but cautious

There is a promising and emerging trend towards digital payments using blockchain

There is a promising and emerging trend towards digital payments using blockchain

There is a promising and emerging trend towards digital payments using blockchain. But investors need to be cautious and not chase small companies that are trying to ride the wave. Currently, Bitcoin’s adoption rate is about 1%, however with scarcity and demand comes value appreciation. So, as the adoption grows, there is hope that Bitcoin’s value will increase substantially. After all, many of today’s tech companies, such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple, survived the dotcom tragedy and are now doing better than before.

Coming up next:

The blockchain is the system behind cryptocurrencies. A basic grasp of how it works will prove to be sufficient for now. But in the future, this knowledge would hardly be enough. The question is how to start, and the answer is first to have an understanding of the fundamentals of blockchain. With the growth of the industry, it is possible to reach mass adoption. Even if it fails, Blockchain is here to stay and is a big game changer.

Blockchain technology in sales and marketing

Blockchain technology in sales and marketing

For the next few months, expect a series of 13 blog posts about blockchain technology and its impact in sales and marketing. Below is a synopsis of what to expect in each blog post in the order given.

  1. Blockchain transforms not only sectors such as security, health, and finance but also many basic tenets of marketing. It digitizes touch points, makes digital payments, creates meaningful value, builds trust, and decentralizes advertising concepts. Marketers who recognize this will have a lucrative opportunity in front of them and an edge over others. Hence for salespeople and marketers, it is worth spending some time to understand the changes happening in this arena. Already companies based on blockchain are growing exponentially.
  2. One of the challenges every business face is cash flow, and marketing agencies are not immune to it. Bitcoin is the solution. It has some financial benefits and less tangible advantages. The company who accepts the payment can either use a third-party to convert the Bitcoins into cash or withdraw it in the form of Bitcoins. Getting started is super easy. There are plenty of companies help businesses that want to get Bitcoin set up as a payment option.
  3. Blockchain is the new change on the horizon. Although it is already in the financial world, the uses of blockchain are far more wide reaching. It is shaking up many sectors along with all industries including supply chain, corporate responsibility, fashion designing, and digital advertising. To accept Bitcoins, all the company needs is a Bitcoin button at the checkout and a digital wallet. It works like a cycle whereby the publishers and users receive tokens when they view the ads.
  4. We are experiencing a significant shift in the real estate industry, as more and more people are engaging in property transactions using Bitcoin. Many industry experts are excited about the potential for digital money and the blockchain technology when it comes to real estate. But although digital currency transaction is the future, industry insiders say that we are not quite there as yet. Digital money analysts are less convinced that the property market would more widely adopt the cryptocurrency.
  5. In the real estate blockchain enables to store authentic online documents, draw digital smart contracts, and keeps the identities of the parties anonymous. While all sounds great, for everything to work seamlessly, it still needs a lot of things. As traders and investors have bid up Bitcoin’s price higher and higher, the Securities and Exchange Commission has suspended trading of some firms. Investors need to be cautious and not chase small companies that are trying to ride the wave.
  6. The blockchain is the system behind cryptocurrencies. A basic grasp of how it works will prove to be sufficient for now. But in the future, this knowledge would hardly be enough. The question is how to start, and the answer is first to have an understanding of the fundamentals of blockchain. With the growth of the industry, it is possible to reach mass adoption. Even if it fails, Blockchain is here to stay and is a big game changer.
  7. Cryptocurrency is a digital payment maintained by a network of computers that uses cryptography to authenticate transactions. Depending on how investors expect to make money and how they are structured, some cryptocurrencies may count as securities. If traders of these currencies prop up the price and go online to spread gossips, that might count as fraud. It can be hard to determine if a bubble exists. The only way to ensure that they avoid a burst is mass adoption.
  8. A war is over the future of Bitcoin, the first digital currency, and is already showing strain. Two of the biggest among the competitors of Bitcoin is Darkcoin and Ethereum. Many of the currencies younger then Bitcoin can be used for much more versatile purposes. Hence Bitcoin faces a threat from more nimble competitors. Digital currencies will drive new company model innovation at unprecedented levels. This revolution could be either a bubble or the onset of a financial realignment.
  9. Blockchain technology represents a seismic shift like that of email and web in the 90s and Facebook and Twitter a decade later. This innovative technology also makes Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies possible without centralized authority. But cryptocurrencies are just the tip of the iceberg, much bigger and more essential things lie below the surface. Blockchain technology has the potential to create countless opportunities everywhere. 21.co, a blockchain startup founded by Dr. Balaji Srinivasan, is a compelling case in point
  10. Some businesses and companies prefer to stick to their past, but this is not a good marketing strategy. Instead, it is essential to take a progressive approach and look out for the next big thing. That is what happens when companies begin to accept Bitcoin payment that put them in a position for greater success. Embracing the power of this new blockchain technology shows the customers and prospects of a business that it is well ahead of the curve.
  11. Charlie Shrem was among the pioneer public faces of cryptocurrency. He co-founded a startup company in 2011 called BitInstant that was one of the earliest cryptocurrency companies processing a third of all Bitcoin transactions. In 2015, Shrem went to prison for two years for aiding an unlicensed money transmitter acquire Bitcoins to trade in the underground marketplace, where it was used to buy drugs. It was a felony that is the first of its kind in the crypto world.
  12. Charlie Shrem the first Bitcoin felon went to federal prison in 2015 for 2 years. Upon his release he went about strengthening the ecosystem of blockchain. A real breakthrough came when he created a prepaid Dash debit card. He then joined Intellisys Capital and decided to raise funds in the form of initial coin offering but was mired with doubts, as he feared the intense scrutiny from the authorities and eventually backed off.
  13. Today, many of the blockchain assets are tokens that are distributed as initial coin offerings. It constitutes the Internet’s second business model. Associated jobs have soared as its value has risen. Candidates who understand initial coin offerings, know how to write smart contracts, and have a good understanding of Ethereum would have an extra competitive edge. Interested applicants should read up the online literature on how blockchain works and be aware of the basics before applying in the field.

Blockchain technology in sales and marketing

Bitcoin is the earliest cryptocurrency

The topics of the series are broadly categorized as follows:

  • Blockchain is defined as a distributed peer-to-peer database that is based on an open and public ledger coded by cryptography. It is intermediated, decentralized and unalterable. Blockchain is a technology to be reckoned with as it can be applied in various industries. It will disrupt many businesses including the advertising world.
  • Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies or, in technological parlance, alternative coins, also known as altcoins. Although Bitcoin is the most commonly used cryptocurrency, there are many limitations to it. Its flaws and weakness have given rise to many other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, Ripple, and Dash.
  • The marketing industry will see phenomenal changes in the way products and services are advertised. In future, customers in the target market will have to be paid a fraction of a cent for their attention. Such micropayments is only possible with blockchain that is one of its greatest advantages. The blockchain technology called Brave will enable this.
  • Big-ticket items such as mansions and real estate properties are purchased using Bitcoin. There are cases whereby houses with a Bitcoin price tag received overwhelming response and media publicity. However, the technology faces some obstacles in the real estate sector that prevents mass adoption.
  • Lastly, using a real life case study we will warn you on how not to conduct business using this emerging trend. It is a case study based on the first felony committed in the crypto industry. It is also the story of a powerful transformation in the life of the felon who has now dedicated his life to help evolve the blockchain ecosystem.

After the case study, we will provide some information for those who would like to pursue a career in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. We will then wrap it up with the publication of the white paper written by an anonymous hacker who goes by the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin.

Stay tuned on www.blog.smei.org

Early Guerrilla Marketing Tactics of Salesforce.com

Early Guerrilla Marketing Tactics of Salesforce.com

Salesforce.com employed guerrilla marketing tactics early on. Budding entrepreneurs all over the world have elegant and innovative ideas. However, they struggle with the obstacles they face in their journey to turn their business into a commercial success. Worse still, each one thinks that they are alone in their fights. However, every entrepreneur goes through the same pain points. The story of Salesforce.com provides some valuable lessons that start-ups can learn. Although they are practical, it requires a mindset that embraces a radical approach to doing business. It that departs sharply from the more traditional one. Study them carefully and customize it for your businesses.

Stand out with a purpose

In 2000, at the salesforce.com launch party in San Francisco at the Regency Theatre, what stood out was the theme about waging war against the traditional way of delivering software services. They turned the lowest level of the theater into an inferno with actors locked up inside cages playing captured and frustrated enterprise salespeople. They were screaming, “Help, get me out,” “Sign this million-dollar license agreement. I need to make my quota!” etc. After the more than fifteen hundred attendees had worked their way through this hell, they went to the top floor. The place represented heaven where there was music, light and finally salesforce.com. There they obtain Nirvana.

The End of Software Campaign was the name of the party. On the morning of that day at the Siebel User Group Conference at the Moscone Center Salesforce.com sent hired actors. Their job was to pretend to be TV crew from a local station. They also sent protestors to picket the conference. Every person who went into the meeting were given an invitation to the salesforce.com launch party that night. Although the police arrived immediately, their presence only fanned the flames as the protestors were there legally.

PR Week recognized this End of Software Campaign as the “Hi-Tech Campaign of the Year”. Within two weeks around one thousand organizations signed up for the service. By daring to be different than the conventional way salesforce.com was able to get the much-needed press coverage at nil cost and reach out to the target market which was the end-users rather than the business enterprises and large corporations.

Aim for potential end users

Salesforce’s City Tour Program built Street Teams that got customers selling for the company on a local level. Each City Tour stop had a keynote address. Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.com, spoke at each event followed by a live demo. There was also some time dedicated for questions.

In every City, the customers were eager to share their stories about their experiences using the software. This City Tour frenzy morphed into a movement. Salesforce.com contacted end-users in advance of the events, and most were eager to participate. Salesforce.com started to post blown up pictures of their customers at events and other marketing materials. Their companies acknowledged these employees’ success since it contributed immensely to the bottom line and they climbed the corporate ladder faster than otherwise would have been possible. Ads started appearing on job sites and soon “implementing salesforce.com” became a differentiating skill that set the candidates apart. It became a skill that employers sought out highly in sales professionals.

Salesforce.com evolves through a process called “intelligent reaction” – a process that involves making minor upgrades every week and constant releases incorporating real-time feedback from the end-users. The phenomenon, as they put it, means going where the business takes them rather than predicting the future trends without any inputs from the customers. It is, in essence, engaging the end-user as an active participant in the evolution of the company. In their early growth, salesforce.com built an online community through forums, blogs and chat sessions that have been emulated by many other companies since then.

Vulture and not venture capital

Raising money at the initial stage of the business evolution was no easy task for salesforce.com. It was an uphill battle. During the frothy dot-com era, Salesforce turned to the venture capitalists (VC) with their cold pitch for investment. When VC after VC turned them down, they turned to the age-old adage of 3F – friends, family, and fools – in other words, vulture-capitalists to raise capital for their start-up. This alternative financing model turned out to be a winning funding strategy that brought the investors exceptional returns in a short time. Subsequently, it attracted a steady stream of potential investors within a very short period. And the VCs regretted their decision not to believe in the company.

The journey of Salesforce thus began with a purpose to do enterprise software differently. By taking advantage of the enormous opportunities of the Internet in an industry known as Cloud Computing that was growing leaps and bounds at that time, Salesforce.com was able to deliver enterprise applications cheaply through a website. It started off in 1999 in a small rented apartment with three developers and a few computers. Ten years later the company morphed into a $1 billion company with a few thousand employees. Salesforce not only managed to survive the dot-com crash of 2001 but also grew to become the world’s largest growing software company in less than a decade.

Lessons for startups

The End of Software type of launch party may not be a possible thing for every start-up company due to many restrictions. Friends and family may not believe in and invest in a concept that resides just in the head of an aspiring business person. But the implication is that by leveraging a guerilla tactic and bringing on board well-wishers an entrepreneur with a can-do-attitude can take the company to soaring heights. The idea is not to copy and paste the ideas illustrated here but to borrow ideas and adapt them with some modifications depending on the nature of the business, the local culture and the needs of the end-users. Uniqueness within the norm is of the essence here.

Photo Credit: Daria Nepriakhina