Immutable Holdings Inc. (NEO: HOLD), a company seeking to democratize blockchain investing, began trading on the Canadian-based NEO Exchange.
In light of this occasion, Benzinga spoke with Immutable’s chairman and CEO Jordan Fried about his efforts to improve access to blockchain equity.
Finding Crypto: Fried’s foray into digital assets and blockchain started out with building online secondary markets for video game currencies.
It wasn’t until years later while running a virtual private network (VPN) startup — Buffered VPN — Fried found and accepted Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC) for payment.
“I had become an ex-pat living in Budapest, Hungary, and the internet sucked,” he said. “There were a lot of websites that were blocked because of censorship. If the Wall Street Journal wrote an article that was very critical of the Hungarian government, the article would be blocked.”
Later, whistleblower Edward Snowden proclaimed that the U.S. government was spying on people at scale. Overnight, that development increased the VPN business 100-times over.
Fried sold the company and made it out with the bitcoin.
Building Crypto: After Buffered, Fried recalls not being at peace.
“I did everything I wanted to do in life. I saw everything. That whole time, though, I could not figure out why I was not happy,” he explained. “I learned I didn’t really need the money. The money was the fortunate byproduct of building something.”
Fried promptly moved to New York and met with the team behind the Hashgraph algorithm.
“I wrote the largest check into the algorithm at the time, and we launched Hedera,” he added.
Hedera’s cryptocurrency — HBAR — is used by Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG), IBM (NYSE:IBM), Boeing Co (NYSE:BA), Deutsche Telekom AG (OTC:DTEGY), Nomura Holdings Inc (NYSE:NMR) and among some of the other biggest companies in the world for its processing and governance characteristics.
“We’ve created close to $20 billion in market value, just from that project.”
The venture allowed Fried to come into contact with the likes of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, who was president to Larry Ellison of Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL).
“Often, the senior leadership just didn’t understand it,” he said. “So, we took a different approach; we would identify the owners inside of these organizations that were crypto competent, and we would make them a value case for this technology.”
Democratizing Crypto: Fried has a core investment thesis.
Mainly, participants must be aware, as well as have the access to adopt and accumulate.
To start, that’s tough if there is no formal education for newcomers. That’s why Fried founded 1-800-BITCOIN, a line that puts the inquisitive in touch with a team that will help turn them into competent blockchain investors.
In broadening access, under Immutable Holdings Fried invests for higher-net-worth individuals. This initiative is the main revenue stream for Immutable.
With businesses such as NFT.com — a take on an emerging space that allows participants to assign real-world assets like diplomas, season tickets and deeds value on the blockchain — Fried is looking to build more applications native to blockchains and scale adoption.
Together, Immutable is comprised of CBDC.com, HBAR Labs, Immutable Advisory, 1-800-BITCOIN, Immutable Asset Management and NFT.com.
“We like to think of it as the Berkshire Hathaway of blockchain, … and we’re bringing a diversified exposure offering in the form of holding our company stock.”
Why List Immutable: “When you’re starting a company, capital is oxygen.”
The decision to raise publicly was a personal one, Fried explained.
“I am against venture capital. It is an absolute byproduct of the Jobs Act, which makes investing in companies very restrictive and only available to the highest net worth individuals.”
Fried wanted to democratize access to blockchain equity. The Canadian-based NEO Exchange was the perfect venue, given that Canada is friendlier to crypto and blockchain innovation.
“I believe there should be a true blockchain holding company,” he said. “Going public enables us to have our own commercial paper which is kind of like a currency in and of itself. This will allow us to drive consolidation or M&A strategy.”
Compliance First: Moving forward, Fried is determined to innovate in a compliant manner.
“I value a good night’s sleep, more than anything,” he said on how he’s been able to relate with key investors, such as Kevin O’Leary, who is obsessed with compliance.
In the past, Fried spent millions on legal fees and sought the SEC’s assistance on blockchain initiatives.
“I believe it’s so important for innovators to be interacting with regulators in a sandbox-like environment,” he concluded.