Daniel Popa knows a thing or two about building businesses that last. In his 20 years as a serial entrepreneur, he's successfully launched 12 companies and generated more than $1 billion in revenue. Today he's actively trying to solve one of the fundamental issues at heart of crypto: How to keep a stablecoin stable. In this interview, he shares how he ended up building a stablecoin and why a company's core values should be set in stone.
How did you first get into blockchain and the decentralized web?
I have always been interested in innovative technologies having started my career in VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), then moving into telecoms, computer software, and VR. My interest in cryptocurrency began when I visited a friend in 2014 who suggested I invest in bitcoin. My fascination continued to grow, but I was perplexed by the extreme volatility of bitcoin and later other cryptocurrencies.
The concept of empowering people with control over their own value was a great inspiration to me but eliminating the centralized intermediaries is not enough if holders can’t count on the value they hold today staying relatively the same over the next year (or even following day). This need for a truly stable store of value is what motivated me to develop Anchor.
When did you set up your company?
Though I had been conducting research about the global economy and need for a stable store of value and financial index since I first learned about cryptocurrency, I officially founded Anchor in December of 2018. We now have more than 35 team members around the world developing the MMU algorithm, to which the stablecoin is pegged. We recently launched our public test net. The MVP release and private token pre-sale are coming up this spring.
In the decentralized space, even your competitors are your greatest collaborators.
What need does it serve?
To date, no fiat or cryptocurrency has succeeded in offering people a truly stable store of value. Though fiat currencies, such as USD, are considered relatively stable, they depreciate in value with inflation. A dollar 30 years ago is equivalent to about $2.05 today, so the prices in 2019 are about 105 percent higher than the average prices in 1989.
The other main issue with fiat is the fact that centralized governments and banks have a huge hand in controlling their value. These institutions don’t always make decisions in the best interest of the people, as demonstrated by the fallout from the 2008 Financial Crisis. Though cryptocurrencies eliminated the need for government backing and verification from banks, cryptocurrencies remain incredibly volatile. Stablecoins represented an attempt to meet the need for a decentralized currency that retains value over time, but even Tether, supposedly backed by USD 1:1 and the most well-known stablecoin, has fallen short on this promise (its value has fallen as low as $.80).
Anchor is designed to actually enhance the value held by token holders over time through reliance on a dual-token, burn-mint model and a stable financial index, the Monetary Measurement Unit (MMU). The MMU is Anchor’s algorithmically-based peg of value that reflects the sustainable, long-term trend of global economic growth while protecting against inflation, regional shocks, and politically-biased influences.
Have you launched other companies before? What were they?
I have launched 12 companies in telecommunications, software, VR, and now blockchain, which together have generated over US$1 billion in revenue over the last 20 years. Notably, NECC Telecom, which at its height had more than 600 employees and several thousand contractors around the world, generated revenues in excess of $54 million annually.
Did you know?
I have traveled all over the world, successfully founded 12 companies, lucratively exited five, and still, the most rewarding thing I find in life is fatherhood.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced in building a business in this space?
As is the case with any innovation, there is a learning curve for each intersecting industry. As a stablecoin, we bridge the gap between traditional finance and crypto spheres, and so it’s our responsibility to communicate to both audiences why we need a truly stable store of value and financial standard and how Anchor will provide that for them. Educating people about our stablecoin solution has been both the most challenging and rewarding aspect of our mission.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given when it comes to being an entrepreneur in this space?
My friend who first encouraged me to invest in bitcoin reinforced the key lesson that taking a risk on an innovation that truly excites you is always worth it.
What advice would you give to someone setting up a business in the decentralized web?
Hold onto your core mission, but be ready to shift gears about everything else. The decentralized web is so new that anyone seeking to build a business in the space must be prepared to be incredibly adaptable.
What project or projects are you most excited about (that isn’t yours!)
Ambisafe, a firm we recently partnered with, offers much-needed infrastructure and security to the blockchain industry. Melon, an asset management protocol, and ecosystem is another vital solution offering digital management strategies.
What is (or what will be) blockchain’s ‘killer app’?
I think there will be many killer DApps and there already are—each providing solutions for their own target users that help them on a daily basis.
Hold onto your core mission, but be ready to shift gears about everything else.
What’s the difference between setting up a company in the decentralized space versus regular business?
In the decentralized space, even your competitors are your greatest collaborators. We are all working together to drive the industry forward.
How would you describe blockchain to someone who has never heard of it before?
Blockchain is a decentralized ledger technology. It is an apolitical community, a peer-to-peer database empowering each of its users. Blockchain allows for ease of transaction of value and creates an immutable historical archive for each data point. Blockchain is to the transfer of value what the internet is to the transfer of data and communication.