In the dead of the crypto winter, one of the scene’s most prominent enthusiasts caught up with me about the state of crypto and what he has in store for the future.
Ian Balina, the high profile entrepreneur and influencer who gained fame through his analytical approach to ICO investing — publicly documenting his $4 million crypto earnings in one year — took a hit when hackers made off with a seven figure stash of his holdings last year.
The event prompted accusations that Balina may have staged the hack to avoid taxes. While those accusations have been debunked and related arrests have been made, Balina remains a controversial public figure, particularly amongst those who’ve lost money in the bear market.
It’s no secret that the ICO rush is settling down, and Bitcoin has fallen back to Earth. And, the down-trending state of crypto has prompted speculations about Balina’s next move.
So, what has he been up to and what’s next for the crypto guru? Quite a lot, it seems.
Balina Spent Last Year on the Road
“One of my primary goals is to make sure everyone feels equipped with knowledge about new technologies,” says Balina.
“So, I spent most of last year educating abroad.” He’s talking about his Crypto World Tour, which took him to speaking engagements in Stockholm, Romania, Barcelona, Dubai, Prague, Amsterdam, Budapest, Manila, and Balina’s own home country, Uganda.
“In the States, we get such a narrow view of the capabilities of blockchain technology, partly because of legislation that inhibits innovation,” says Balina. “So, as much as the [tour] was about educating, it was also an educational opportunity for me.”
Thanks to his time abroad, he says, he has a holistic perspective about the appetite for ICOs and innovation in Blockchain — a perspective which he brings to his successful consulting firm, 100x Advisors. It’s also led him to focus on security token offerings, or STO’s.
Why Security Token Offerings Present New Opportunities
The market has been rough, and Balina’s a shrewd investor. He recognizes when it’s time to fortify his holdings and take new technologies seriously — the very trait that earned him success in crypto as an early adopter. He’s branched out into security token offerings (STOs), which require different metrics than those he was using to evaluate ICOs.
“We don’t expect the market to stay the same, and it’s important to understand the entire landscape in order to make sound decisions,” Balina says. He’s been focusing especially on analyzing data behind VC startups which have achieved successful exits — -that is, they were sold to bigger companies, or to the public in IPOs. He’s looking for commonalities to reveal patterns in how these successful companies are founded and operated. But the data crunching, Balina says, is still far from over.
He’ll present all of his findings in a new website of his sought-after spreadsheet, set to launch this year.
A New Book on the Horizon
Now, home in Miami, Balina is wrapping up a new book. The book is a biography chronicling Ian’s upbringing in Uganda, his journey to the United States, his time at IBM and his trials and tribulations as an entrepreneur. From his hack and public controversies to his three successful million-dollar ventures, Balina distills lessons learned in a way that reflects his brand: a Diary of a Made Man.
People have questioned whether or not he’s still successful or relevant, considering the future of crypto itself is in flux. But Balina comes off as unconcerned. “When you know what’s true, and you remain dedicated to providing value,” he said, “it’s easy to let the rumors roll of your back.” He adds that he feels fortunate to be in a position where people are contemplating his life. “But it’s really not as interesting as all that,” he laughs.