Reflections on the Past 6 Months with Deblock & ICON and the Future: Reached

Thanks to NewsBTC for covering this.

For the past 6 months, I’ve been at Deblock, ICON’s VC & accelerator partner, as Head of Research. During this time, I’ve written several updates on ICON and Deblock, and this will be my last, as I’ve left Deblock this month.

As Head of Research at Deblock, I worked directly with Hyun Oh, Managing Director, to set up and manage a fund dedicated to building out the ICON ecosystem. Drawing from the knowledge and experience that I gained from reviewing projects in the blockchain industry as an angel investor over the past three years, I met with and oversaw research on over a hundred projects, examining token economics as well as technical feasibility. This process often involved working directly with the ICON team and the ICON Council Members.

In addition to my role as a VC, I built out partnerships with top crypto funds and several influencers globally with a view towards expanding ICON’s global reach. I co-created a task force with the ICON Communications team and the San Francisco team to improve public relations and communications by bridging investors with members of the ICON Council. I also coordinated efforts with ICX Station managers based across SF, Tokyo, and Singapore and spearheaded initiatives such as the Deblock Transparency Initiative — pushing for accountability and transparency in projects accelerated by Deblock.

My time at Deblock and ICON coincided with one of the worst downturns in the cryptocurrency market. In spite of this, I can say that the ICON team has made incredible progress. I’ve seen ICON push for significant progress in legitimizing blockchain and cryptocurrencies with the Korean Government, receiving the Minister Award for being an industry leader in the blockchain space, and launching demonstrations and several projects in conjunction with the Seoul Metropolitan Government. I’ve seen several hires in every ICON department, including senior positions, most of which weren’t made public and the team is still actively hiring to this day. While I can’t speak for the entire ICON team, my experience with the ICON Council members have always been positive, and by any objective standard, they are some of Korea’s most competent individuals in their respective fields. It is no accident that they are leading the industry.

Beyond the Korean team, ICON’s global team has also been growing. The ICON San Francisco team, including Min Kim, Scott Smiley, and Daeki Lee, is a stellar team that’s recently been bolstered with the addition of Ricky Dodds as Head of Institutional Markets. ICON’s global accelerator program, ICX Station, recently announced the launch of the world’s first blockchain accelerator endorsed by the Singapore Government, spearheaded by TRIVE Ventures. Yi Ming, Partner at TRIVE Ventures, is an extremely competent and passionate individual who I’m confident will lead the way. Beyond this, the Tokyo launchpad of ICX Station, led by John Kim from Mizuho Securities, is also extremely busy preparing behind the scenes, coordinating with regulatory authorities, to cater to growing Japanese interest in cryptocurrencies. Beyond this, there are ongoing efforts to expand ICX Station globally. All things considered, it’s clear that ICON isn’t letting the market downturn affect them in moving forward.

I’ve written about ICON since before I considered joining Deblock and my views haven’t changed. Yes, there have been community concerns and I’ve shared my thoughts on them here. But my time with Hyun Oh, Managing Director of Deblock, and the ICON team has further cemented my belief in them. I’ve seen their immense drive and absolute determination to deliver, all while showing great humility and integrity. The market downturn does no one any favors, but regardless, there are so many projects, and so many developments at ICON everyday, that even as an insider, I’ve been continually surprised and caught wishing that they could all be covered and shared publicly. I’ve seen the best of ICON in the worst of times. That’s why I’m confident ICON is here to stay.

So why am I leaving? I’m leaving Deblock because I want/need to build. For the entirety of my time in this space, I’ve been an investor. First, a passive one, and then a more active one at Deblock. I’m extremely passionate about the digital economy and now, I feel more strongly than ever, the need to do more than invest. Despite all talks of scalability and usability issues, the blockchain space is seeing an incredible amount of money and effort to build out its infrastructure and I believe it’s ready to support mainstream applications and high time they did. This is why I’ve decided to co-found Reached, a blockchain startup that’s not doing an ICO, with Elise Shin. We’ll be launching in January 2019. If you’re interested in our progress, follow us here.

Thanks for reading.