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Internet entrepreneur and former comedy writer John Hargrave begins his life story in “a black stretch limo as sleek as a buttered dolphin.” The year is 1999 and Ziff-Davis, the publishing company, has just floated its technology arm ZDNet on the stock exchange.
Hargrave, a shareholder by virtue of being an employee, has become a millionaire overnight. He then loses it all the following year in the dot-com crash.
“Blockchain for Everyone: How I Learned the Secrets of the new Millionaire Class," his new book, which was published today, details Hargrave’s quest to rebuild his fortune by betting big on bitcoin and blockchain. He invested in the former, and based his marketing business, Media Shower, on the latter, which he attempted to turn it into a “blockchain company.”
Here are a few of the things Hargrave says he learned about from the people involved in crypto’s success stories:
1. Buy early, buy often, and hodl
Hargrave says the Winklevoss twins are a case in point: They “didn’t just buy; they believed…They took the money they won from suing Mark Zuckerberg and plowed it into bitcoin. But they didn’t just buy; they held. Every time the market melted down, they held. They even had a mantra: ‘Spartans hold.’”
2. Create blockchains of great value
The most successful crypto winners weren’t investors but inventors. Vitalik Buterin, for instance, saw that blockchain could be used not just for bitcoin but for decentralized applications (dapps ) and invented Ethereum for blockchain development—not to get rich, said Hargrave. “When we put good things into the world, wealth comes back.”
3. Invest in great blockchain projects
Blockchain whales don’t have to work anymore—but they do anyway, said Hargrave. They reinvest their money into new blockchain projects.
He’s developed what he jokingly calls "the Yelp ratings for blockchain investors” based on the metrics successful investors use to reveal a blockchain project’s potential, and has reproduced it in his book.
4. Crypto should just be part of your overall portfolio, not all of it
“Bitcoin, over the last few years has vastly outperformed stocks, that’s very important,” says Hargrave. But he found that even among the most crypto literate, smart investors still keep the majority of their portfolio in traditional stocks and bonds. “Consider blockchain your alternative investment, a small slice of the pie,” he says.
5. Zig when everyone else zags
Crypto is for unconventional thinkers. “To beat the market, you must sometimes bet against the market. You’ve got to zig when everyone else is zagging and zag when everyone else is zigging. You’ve got to ignore the market’s moods. And that requires thinking for yourself,” he says.
6. Think of blockchain as an ecosystem of opportunity
It’s not just about individual blockchain projects, says Hargrave. A wise investor will consider the industry as a whole. That means opportunity lies throughout the full stack, from the companies that produce the chips for blockchain miners, such as Nvidia and AMD, to the companies that are building blockchain architecture, such as IBM, Cisco and Fujitsu.
7. Blockchain is all about people
Hargrave jokingly refers to his friend, Richard Kastelein, publisher of industry website Blockchain News, as “Canadian Yoda.” One of the insights Kastelein gave him: “Build a community, then find a way to add value. Blockchain is like a big, open field. There’s just, like, fertile soil waiting to tilled.” Hargrave added that he should also have paid more heed to Kastelein’s other piece of advice: “have a thick skin.”