“The latest gallup poll said 2% of Americans have some cryptocurrency.”
Blockchain is basically at the same point the internet was when I started developing what became Marketwired in 1993–1998. There were 20 million people with web account access globally out of 5.5 billion people. So we’re pretty much at the same adoption rate in 2018 that we were in 1994 for the internet”
Michael Terpin is founder/CEO of Transform Group, whose divisions include Transform PR, a global public relations firm that has served 200+ clients in the blockchain field, including more than 100 ICOs; Transform Strategies, advisory and token relations; Coinovate, a cryptocurrency consulting and development company; CoinAgenda, an event series for cryptocurrency investors; TokenMatch, a global matching event for curated ICOs and investor groups; and SocialRadius, one of the nation’s first social media marketing firms twice named to the Inc. 5000. Transform Group is headquartered in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with offices in Santa Monica, Silicon Valley, NYC, Las Vegas, Denver and Toronto.
Hello Michael, tell me a bit about your background in the space and how you feel about the crypto market right now?
I’ve been in technology, investment, and marketing for almost 30 years. I try to see trends early on as they are happening.
Early as in, before they get big. I was early in the CD era in ’91 when I first launched my agency, early in video games, and on the internet ’93. Which is when I founded what became Marketwired the first internet press release service, now the world’s third largest service after its acquisition by NASDAQ and subsequent sale to West Corp.
I got in early in social media with Social Radius in ’03. I had been dabbling in social media since ’01. And when I saw blockchain and Bitcoin specifically in early 2013. I saw that this was a fundamental disruption to technology and finance on the scale of the web and social media.
So I plowed all in and that is when I started Transform PR and the Transform Group.
How do you see the state of the blockchain market right now?
Well I see it going as predicted, which is somewhat unpredictable over the short term yet staying consistent in its growth over the long haul.
I think that everybody likes that the primary naysayers are the threatened entrenched interests like the central banks, association of the central banks, the PayPals, and Warren Buffett’s of the world. The Paul Krugman’s of the world are still throwing water at us saying “it can’t work! It is not backed by a government!’. The same arguments they had in 2013, 2014, 2015 when it was $200 and it just keeps plowing along.
When I first got in 1 in 1000 Americans had a crypto wallet with maybe 1 million holders globally and now there are at least 20 million holders of cryptocurrency.
And it is still early.
The latest gallup poll said 2% of Americans have any cryptocurrency.
Blockchain is basically at the same point that the internet was when I started developing what became Marketwired in 1993. There were 20 million people with web accounts access globally out of seven billion people.
So we’re pretty much at the same adoption rate in 2018 for blockchain that we were in 1994 for the internet.
And if you look now 24 years later the number of internet accounts has grown from 20 million in 1994 to 4 billion out of 7.6 billion people.
So if you want to follow that math that means if it follows the same path. And it has actually been moving a little quicker. That means that you’re going to have 4 billion people having access to blockchain and cryptocurrency in 24 years or in 2042.
I think it will be quicker than that because social media grew quicker when everyone already had internet access.
All you need to have is a wallet, understand how to use the wallet, and have internet access.
You’ve got 4 billion people and growing who have internet access.
You certainly have a compelling reason to have cryptocurrency and blockchain applications once you understand what they do.
Basically to use it for money remittance to 3rd world countries and moving larger amounts of money between countries which everyone seems to have trouble doing.
All of the pundits say, “There is no e-commerce! Nobody successfully uses Bitcoin for moving money other than criminal activities!”.
I get two thirds of my revenue from people who pay me in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
I often send out invoices for $25,000 or more and I get paid in Bitcoin or Ethereum ten minutes later. I don’t have to wait three days for the bank transfer. I have the right if I wish to immediately convert it to cash and pay half a percent to convert it. That is cheaper than a bank transfer or Paypal.
These are fallacies being populated by the threatened industries.
Other applications for Bitcoin on the blockchain haven’t come out yet.
They are being built just like the people who laughed at Ethereum four years ago saying it would never be built or it would never work! Obviously now its getting a lot of applications. But we are still very early.
YouTube now is a phenomenally large application; it gets more viewers than any of the TV networks. It would have been laughable to make that position twenty years ago.
Brock Pierce was running DEN and you had an internet video content service that raised tens of millions of dollars but went bankrupt a year later. They tried to become YouTube on dial-up. It didn’t work because they needed to go and get the infrastructure built first.
Now that we have broadband, you can watch Netflix on your iPhone.
I think the thing we’re lacking right now is users. In 1994 the web has twenty million users. In 2000 it went up to half a billion users. Today we have four billion. Crypto will have a similar trajectory. I won’t be surprised if we get to half a billion users on crypto wallets within six to ten years.
The first, but certainly not last, killer app for blockchain is cross-border payments and remittances, which is most needed in places without stable governments or banking systems. The United States and western Europe are far less affected, but blockchain is still much quicker and cheaper than using a wire transfer. Some countries still have a hard time with that simple task.
I remember not that long ago trying to get a payment sent to someone in Germany and their bank rejected my account three times. I was trying to pay a client back who has overpaid us. I was like if you will take Bitcoin I’d be happy to pay you back instantly but there were not interested in that option. It was a non-blockchain client, which we don’t have any of those anymore.
Crypto hasn’t had its “Uncle Milty” moment yet.
When television sets came out around the 1920s they were experimental. By 1930 they were working but they didn’t go mainstream until 1948 when Milton Burton came out with a TV show and people wanted to watch his show. And they bought television sets by the millions. It was a TV explosion.
Cable television was also a radical experiment.
I remember when I was a kid, cable people knocking on the door and saying “ Hey we want you to pay for TV”, and my dad saying, “TV is free what the hell are you talking about?”, and he threw them out.
Now everybody has cable, until they’re cutting the cord.
Things are considered to be crazy, until all the sudden they’re not, and then everybody gets them.
And I think that’s what we are talking about with blockchain.
We don’t have the Angry Birds for blockchain yet so we don’t have the Milton Burton show of blockchain, we don’t have the Pokemon Go of blockchain.
I think it will probably be a game but it will also be some productivity apps.
The first thing that made people want to buy PCs was the ability to use an electronic spreadsheet.
These things evolve and in five years there will be half a dozen things that we will say “How did we ever live without this?”.
I think games will be the first thing like Angry Birds on the blockchain.
We have a client that I’m working with that had one of the first blockchain games. It is a cryptocurrency you can earn and its aimed at kids. These things are going to happen very fast.
The other thing that will make things happen fast is when the Telephone companies start buying up exchanges, that’s going to be a pivotal moment.
Right now, how do you get on an exchange? You have to go in, prove your not a criminal; it’s harder than opening up a bank account.
When you get an exchange, all the sudden your bank wants to shut you down if you use Coinbase or one of the other obvious cryptocurrency exchanges.
And how do you get the money into the exchange when the banks don’t like exchanges?
If a telephone company buys an exchange, they already have your KYC (know Your Customer), they already know who you are, they know how to bill you, and you’re probably just going to be buying cool apps and not day trading it.
Which means more people will be buying cryptocurrency to actually use it instead of just speculating and day trading.
The price will go up because more people will be using it for actual consumables like Angry Birds Blockchain.
Why is bringing video and the blockchain together important? Why should people care?
Video has been the killer app of the internet for the last 10 years or so.
Eighty percent of all internet bandwidth is video. It has dominated entertainment.
When Mark Cuban started out the predecessor to broadcast.com it was an online audio app called Audionet.
It would let you listen to Indiana University and Syracuse University basketball games (and many others) anywhere in the world, on the internet. But watching it is much better.
Broadcast.com got bought by Yahoo and kind of killed in the crib but it inspired what became the whole wave of platforms like YouTube and Hulu.
Once it became technologically possible to go and get broadband video on demand on the internet, it meant the slow death of cable and broadcast which we are seeing play out before us right now.
There are some backend costs to getting these apps up and moving. That made Amazon switch from their original business model selling books online to now three quarters of their revenue is selling hosted video space through AWS.
They are the big trillion dollar monster right now that studios hate paying because they are competitors with Amazon Prime. They are competing on the front end but paying Amazon to support them on the back end.
If a studio could get it cheaper with the same performance, they would switch en masse, which is what the new wave of blockchain companies are doing.
For example, Videocoin encoding, storage, and streaming of video files that anyone in the world who has access to that kind of bandwidth and storage required can host.
It isn’t going to be a spare laptop in your bedroom that drives these new blockchain companies, but the data centers, night storage centers, and zombie servers that comprise the volume for these networks that would compete on the level of Amazon.
Why are you excited personally to be bringing video and blockchain together?
I like being involved in breakthrough technologies. I was very happy to be part of the team that launched Ethereum in early 2014. We debuted them at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and then at the North American Bitcoin Show with the release of the white paper a couple weeks later.
A community sprouted up very quickly. It ended up growing from its thirty cents a token crowd-sale up through over hundred billion market cap at one point.
Halsey Minor, the VideoCoin founder, likes to say that one thing Bitcoin proved is that if you give people a chance to earn money by doing something that anyone in the world can access, they will do it. And the marketplace will find the right place.
People will see that they can make money using unused resources and the marketplace will find the price to compete with AWS. The economics will work in favor of the blockchain companies that do this.
Why is now the right time for video and blockchain to come together?
The perfect storm is brewing right now.
The growing interest has never been higher year to year than right now.
We have crested the bottom of this wave and the run up will be even larger.
Probably June of 2020 and by the end of next year you will see all time highs again.
People who missed out in 2013 and people who missed out last year will see another surge happening in 2019–2020. History will repeat itself. You will notice the trends.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency is not a fad, unlike something like Pokemon Go.
More people are using cryptocurrency this year than the year before and it has been exponential growth from eight years ago with only 100 people using blockchains and now tens of millions using it this year.
Where do you see the future of video on the blockchain?
There are almost twenty different companies getting ready to use video on the blockchain. With many different business models being used.
I am also an advisor for Flixxo which is more of a Netflix of blockchains play, as well as Alpha Networks, a new blockchain that will be disrupting the entire consumer video ecosystem by moving cable and OTT business models onto the next generation of blockchain, and which has a partnership with VideoCoin. Many others are in the content side.
The blockchain allows you to go and take these last waves like broadcast television. You had to be near rabbit ears and you were subject to the broadcast hours with limited channels. Then came cable and the world of a thousand channels.
Then online or “OTT” took over the control of content online.
This took out the monopoly on cable and created the world of online content. There are still issues there with a market dominated by a handful of players. And you don’t have data being shared with users. The promise of the internet was that users would be able to participate, and we haven’t seen that happen yet.
Now with blockchain you are able to come and empower models where individual creators can upload content and not wait to get to the top of YouTube while YouTube keeps the profits.
Now, the blockchain, will allow creators to upload content and be able to track it and receive monetary rewards for their work and promotions.
This becomes a powerful and cost-efficient way to upload and get content streamed to your service.
How will video and blockchain coming together make the world a better place?
It will cause additional employment opportunities and democratize the way that somebody that is an undiscovered artist in Africa can have the ability to participate in the blockchain. This is because creators who normally would not get through the social media campaigns for discovery in the past now have an opportunity to be seen.
It will allow anyone who has additional bandwidth in what they normally do to take what is generating zero income and now generate income in an efficiency play.
Something like a group of users with intense storage half the day and do nothing with it the other half of the day.
It will be money that wasn’t there before this model was around. Bringing revenue into the world where it wasn’t there before.
It will also democratize the discovery and delivery of content from creators in a cost effective way.
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