Binance Labs — Why? What? How?
Why am I joining Binance?
Finished dream school. What’s next?
At the moment when I graduated from Stanford GSB, my dream school, I was lost. What’s my next destination? My time at GSB was so meaningful because the whole journey helped me out understanding myself to a deeper level. From answering the application essay question — “What matters the most to you, and why?”, I started the journey of discovering what matters the most to me: to make positive impact to the society; as my grandpa did when he saved thousands of life by providing food to them during the 3-years famine in China. Having spent two years with 400+ other students, who have done amazing things in life and have a huge ambition to make the world better, I was so captured by the GSB motto -“Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world.”
One of my favorite classes from GSB was called Innovating the Financial Inclusion. At the beginning of the class, I had the opportunity to have a first-hand experience on the struggles unbanked people come across on a daily basis. It was striking to me that there are 2 billion adults globally who are unbanked and struggling with the existing financial systems. In the FinX field experiment, I had to complete a series of financial transactions such as cashing a check, acquiring and using a prepaid card, sending money, and applying a payday loan and repaying it. The experience was awful — time-consuming, expensive, and insecure. After exploring a wide range of financial inclusions, it dawned upon me that blockchain and cryptocurrency could be a solution to this deep pain point.
I started diving into blockchain technology and meeting founders in the space. I was blown away by how fundamental the change can be if the combination of distributive computation, cryptography, token economy works out at the end of the day. I met CZ when Binance just started. I had true respect on his belief in the “freedom of money”, and how he wanted to make it happen. I’ve also known his co-founder, Heyi for many years; she is a simple, driven and powerful girl who never sets boundaries for herself.
Therefore, when they suggested that I lead Binance Labs, I was intrigued.
I was intrigued as I believed this was a good way for me to fulfill GSB motto and create positive impact in the society. I have strong belief that blockchain and cryptocurrency will thrive and fundamentally transform the financial system globally.
I was intrigued as Binance founders are visionary and convictive. I appreciate their dedication to the whole blockchain ecosystem and their trust on me. I saw that running Binance Labs would be my opportunity to take part in and lead this disruptive revolution.
What is our Goal?
It’s a bit early to say how exactly Binance Labs works, simply because the whole ecosystem is growing very fast, yet still very early. But here is my initial thinking:
Binance Labs is a social impact fund. It is an initiative to incubate, invest and empower top blockchain and cryptocurrency entrepreneurs, projects, and communities. Binance Labs is not a profit-driven fund, but an impact-driven, mission-driven and passion-driven strategic fund for the entire ecosystem, not just for Binance. Our mission is to solve problems that matter most to the ecosystem and change the world for the better.
I remember a friend, Dovey from DHVC said that blockchain is just at the first 3 minutes of its journey. Inevitably there would be a lot chaos at the beginning of each revolution. But we should know that none of the technology disruption was planned and then carried out by a top-down approach. We have to solve problems in a creative way.
The problems we are trying to solve are some of the biggest challenges we see in the space:
… And we are a bit more ambitious about these problems in a sense that:
We want to solve the scalability issue without sacrificing interoperability.
We want to achieve decentralization while ensuring efficiency.
We want to preserve privacy while not compromising transparency.
We want to enhance security while promoting usability.
We want to be compliant while making sure each projects maintain good governance.
These are ambitious goals to achieve, but some of the most important values blockchain brings to the world. Binance Labs will source entrepreneurs and teams trying to tackle these problems through different devices and solutions, and support them with some of the great resources and experiences we have.
How will we achieve our goal?
Building up a great team is my first priority. The Labs team will consist of blockchain evangelists, entrepreneurs, developers, researchers, and investors who are dedicated to the long-term impact of the blockchain revolution. I’m very proud that we are already a group of 5 — Teck Chia, Christy Hyungwon Choi, Ling Zhang, Benjamin Rameau, and myself. We are a truly globally distributed team based out of planet earth. Though we all come from different and diverse backgrounds and experiences, we’d like to use blockchain to enable freedom for people around the world. Freedom of transactions, freedom of exchange, freedom of investments, freedom of assets, freedom of money, and freedom of wealth. As a team, we will build our team culture together, while I believe some characters important are: integrity, flat-org, and having fun at work.
We believe there will be many more valuable projects aside from those we choose to invest. But we are still relatively a small team and there are some investment and building themes we feel more critical as of now. Hence, here are some of the verticals that we currently focus on:
- Public Blockchain
- Decentralized Exchange (DEX)
- Stable Digital Currency
- Compliant ATS/Security Token Platforms
These are all part infrastructures our ecosystem needs. We take a long term perspective on blockchain technology and crypto space, and thus would like to start from fundamental building blocks needed for the whole ecosystem to thrive.
Our Value Proposition
Many people think the biggest value we provide with our portfolios is liquidity. Not necessarily. At Binance, Labs and the listing team will make independent decisions. Investment from Binance Labs does not guarantee listing by default. However, as Labs team, we go through rigorous due diligence process with high standards to support top-notch projects and will provide advisory service (of course, for free) on the way to make sure our portfolios deliver lasting impact to the ecosystem which will eventually minimize the gap to listing.
More importantly, we understand what it means to be an entrepreneur and what it takes to build a company. We, ourselves are a startup, helping out other startups. We’d like to become blockchain entrepreneur’s best friend, supporter and helper.
We are also partnering with great researchers to solve the most critical problems. These are the great initiatives which we would love to support and collaborate on some challenging topics:
- MIT Digital Currency Initiative, a leading organization in the open-source cryptocurrency space
- IC3: The Initiative for Cryptocurrencies & Contracts, an initiative of university faculty members who focus on Cryptocurrency & Contract
- Programming Blockchain, an initiative to cultivate blockchain developers across the globe
Binance Labs will be where idea starts, where technology innovates, where researchers struggle. We value every effort made behind the scene that enables all the innovations we see in the market. We’d like to be part of this, and partnership with these initiatives is part of what makes our journey meaningful and exciting.
This is just the start. There are so much more to learn, to explore, to overcome, to enjoy, and to achieve. I’m excited for our journey ahead — challenging yet rewarding and meaningful. At Binance Labs, we make lasting contributions to the next new technology that will change lives, making world a better place.