Han Kao

Crypto Briefing bringing unbiased assessment to crypto industry

Han Kao’s career as an entrepreneur perfectly coincides with the rise of blockchain technology, so it should be no surprise the software developer gravitated toward that industry.

Mr. Kao is the founder and CEO of Crypto Briefing, a publication advocating for the safe and responsible integration of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency into mainstream life. In addition to industry news, Crypto Briefing publishes live data, participates in industry events, and publishes original research through SIMETRI, a service using a proprietary evaluation methodology combining fundamental and quant analysis with crypto economic principles to identify potentially profitable crypto investments.

Soon after beginning his career in business, Mr. Kao saw applications for blockchain technology. He was leading an online event production and ticketing company and saw Bitcoin’s potential to address issues such as high fees, ticket fraud and chargeback concerns that were harming the industry.

The technology needed to grow a little, he thought back then.

“Bitcoin was not realistic at the time but it was awesome,” Mr. Kao said.

By 2017 he was ready to take another look and this time it was more promising. Together with cofounder Jon Rice, Mr. Kao began researching cryptocurrency investments and ICOs.

Han Kao

They quickly saw there were few legitimate sources providing reliable information to investors. Fake news and paid posts (sometimes unacknowledged by publishers) were commonplace. A fledgling industry at a crucial development stage needed more.

“There was a lack of honest and professional analysis,” Mr. Kao recalled.

Crypto Briefing set out to change that with a two-pronged approach, Mr. Kao said. They published unbiased articles not sponsored by any outside company.

“From Day One we did not accept advertisements or sponsorships,” Mr. Kao said.

They also published more in-depth reviews and analysis for those readers wanting to dig deeper.

While many market participants in crypto’s early days were serious about growing what they believed is an industry key to the world’s economic future, some had no clue what they were doing and it showed. Others are faring well. Then there’s the quick buck artists who never had an intention of delivering on their promises.

“Good projects had their head down and were focused on building something,” Mr. Kao said. “They saw the need for capital formation and utilized ICOs. Most good projects had no issue raising venture capital.”

It was those in-between projects, ones with new concepts or being developed by the unconnected, or those with the veneer of promise but with nothing under the hood that needed the closer look Mr. Kao saw wanting.

I’ve talked to a few venture capitalists over the past few years and they’ll say the first aspect they look at when evaluating an opportunity is the team behind it. Mr. Kao agrees, especially because with blockchain technology being so greenfield there isn’t an established body of precedence to compare projects against. The best ones he saw had a well-developed testnet or MVP in advance of their ICO. They also allowed access to their data so others could review it.

But ICOs did have a few unique wrinkles, Mr. Kao conceded. Evaluators had to consider the token’s utility and how it would be used. Was it providing access to a service with demonstrated demand or was it meant to stimulate demand? What is the relationship between holders and suppliers? How far away are projects from reaching their goals? Is the timeline years out?

Many companies are taking blockchain technology in new directions, so reviewers don’t have the benefit of precedence. How does one stay on top of new and rapidly evolving technology?

It isn’t easy, Mr. Kao said. Evaluate KPIs, talk to people across the industry and get their insights. Slowly build your knowledge base and keep your wits about you. Promises of quick returns should be closely screened.

“That’s the reality, software takes time,” the former software developer observed. “Things take time to build and test. Expectations of investors were out of line with reality.”

Mr. Kao agrees there are many parallels between ICO mania and the dotcom bubble of a quarter-century ago. Hype cycles, parabolic increases, outrageous promises. Perceived value was generated by attracting eyeballs to a website and little else.

One big difference now is the increased availability of information. It’s much easier to find information on a cryptocurrency project than it was for Pets.com. We can now access a global library of information that should produce more astute investors, if they take the time to read the information. Time frames like the two years it took for NASDAQ to hit its bottom and the decade or more to return to its peak should be much shorter now thanks to more information and real-time data availability. Specifically with blockchain technology newer chains are being created and scalability concerns are quickly being addressed.

“We do believe there has been value creation here,” Mr. Kao said. “There’s been a tectonic shift in society as well as technology.”

Crypto Briefing recently joined the board of the CoinMarketCap’s Data Accountability and Transparency Alliance. Along with companies such as Binance, Bittrex and Huobi they will work toward higher self-reporting and accountability for exchanges and projects. Both require the creation of frameworks to standardize order book data and related information to increase industry transparency, Mr. Kao said. Things are off to a good start as he estimates 70 percent of exchanges are compliant and self-reporting data.

For individual projects, the industry would like to see better adherence to self-reporting standards. They also want to know information investors require to make proper decisions like distribution numbers and schedules, along with what percentage remains with ownership.

“A lot of these things surprisingly are not flushed out in a financing round or ICO,” Mr. Kao said.

Investors looking for clear data should begin their search at SIMETRI, a proven system for earning gains no matter which way the market heads, Mr. Kao said. Subscribers receive 20-25-page reports on listed cryptocurrency projects which dive into each company’s merits and viability.

“We think that getting the right objective information into the hands of investors is a key step,” Mr. Kao concluded.

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