Han Kao on Fighting Off Fake News With Crypto Briefing

NTE 50 | Fighting Off Fake News

 

In a world full of fake news, it has become important more than ever to have a source of information you can rely on. Most especially where investments and financials are concerned, we need a media that is reliable to give out the right news and education about the world of cryptocurrency. That is exactly what Han Kao helps people out with. As the Co-Founder and CEO of Crypto Briefing, Han has merged crypto and media to help people avoid making bad investments. He shares how he got into this specific space while reflecting on the biggest challenges when it comes to media and information sharing. He also gives us a view of the launch of SIMETRI and explains how it is fighting off fake news by giving accessible research and information.

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Han Kao on Fighting Off Fake News With Crypto Briefing

I’m here with Han Kao, the CEO and Founder of Crypto Briefing and a couple of other new developments. Welcome, Han. Thank you so much for joining me.

How is it going, Monika? I’m happy to be here.

Thank you so much. I am so excited to learn more about Crypto Briefing and what you have been working on lately. You guys have been around for a little while. As a retail investor myself, I’m actually excited to be a part of the announcing of this new venture, this new arm of what you’ve been doing. Let’s just jump right in. How did you first decide that you wanted to get into crypto, media and do Crypto Briefing? Can you tell me a little bit about what hooked you in that space?

It’s actually a pretty interesting story. It was very completely unexpected. We were just scratching our own itch at the very beginning. My cofounder, Jon Rice and myself, we met in a Telegram group in 2017. At the time we were both spending a lot of time doing research on crypto investments and ICOs for ourselves. We started chatting and we saw what was happening in a space with all the fake news, paid post, pay per plays and also a general lack of legitimate sources of reliable information that was publicly available for crypto investors. We said, “It’s nice that we have the right information. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone else had it too?” We said, “What can we do?” We realized there were two main areas that were perpetuating this problem of people investing in scams or in bad projects. On the one hand, it was the media, fake news, paid advertisements, pay per play stories disguised as real news sometimes. On the other hand, it was a general lack of honest reviews, professional analysis and all and reporting on different projects. We figured we were doing all this research anyway, we might as well share with the public and help other people avoid making bad investments.

It started with wanting to scratch your own itch to know about these projects and come to your own conclusions as an investor mostly or was it because you had your own investments you wanted to make sure you knew about?

Information asymmetry is the idea that one party in a transaction has more or better information than the other party. Click To Tweet

We were investing and doing the research for ourselves. We realized that, “This is valuable information that we are spending a lot of time and resources to do.” We were spending hundreds of hours on each project we were looking into. We said, “Let’s share this with the public.”

When you say we, it was you and Jon Rice?

It started off with Jon and me and then we’ve brought on other senior analysts. We brought on code reviewers. Blockchain technology code reviewers where during the 2017 ICO and 2018 ICO boom, there was a lot of ICOs making very bold and ambitious claims. A lot of them simply didn’t have or plan on doing what they were doing. We would do reviews on these projects, but at the same time we would also send in our blockchain technologist and developers to go in there. Some of them, the good ones, would give us access to their private repo and we would go to the entire code screen by screen, take screenshots and walk people through what the project had, what they’re doing. Are they building something new and exciting? Do they have the capabilities of building these things? Is it structured for scale? Is it just copied code? We will share that with the public. We posted all those code reviews online on our site for free.

You had it for free and you’ve been clear. You have no sponsorship and no ads, which means no pay to play. There’s no ability for someone to be like, “I’ll pay you $5,000 or $10,000 or $20,000 and you’re going to give me some media attention or some review or something.” It looks like that’s your big way of fighting fake news. From a larger perspective, do you feel like that same approach? I can see how in the crypto space it’s so specific that that’s a way to fight fake news and fake reviews. Do you see this as having larger implications in society for being able to fight fake news that we see in other political arenas or anything else?

Yes. For us, we focused on crypto because it was what we knew and it was something that we could tackle and it was within reach. In general, I think one of the biggest challenges when it comes to media is the economic structure of media in general. Many times, their economic incentives are not directly aligned with that of their readers. Their true customers are advertisers because that’s the ones paying for the bills and the readers are the product. It’s extremely hard. We know that because we’ve been doing this for years and we’ve been trying to innovate on different ways to generate revenue outside of advertising and sponsorship because it’s very hard to get people to pay for news and articles. It takes a lot of work. That’s what our mission has been.

Rather than having a revenue stream that comes from the advertisers, you cut that off completely, which is wonderful. It brings a lot of integrity to space. How are you opening things up to be a part of getting another revenue stream going? It sounds like you have this content and research, but is that part of what the new SIMETRI offering is about?

Yeah. We’re definitely very excited about the launch of SIMETRI. That addresses the second part of the problem that we saw out there was that there are a lot of big players moving into this space. A good portion of the coins that are being traded in the market now may disappear. They may approach zero or come close to zero. On the same token, in traditional equities and other asset classes, you’ve got third-party reporting, you’ve got third-party research. In crypto, there’s a handful of institutional research but they’re very expensive. It’s very dense reports. We wanted to create a product that was accessible and affordable for retail investors that would give them insight on professional analysis, on the viability and the commercial applicability of these various projects. Give them a sense of would they last or would they stand a chance?

This is the same as what an institution would often get. It’s like an institutional-grade product for institutional-grade analysis and understanding of things that usually are for the top echelon people that can afford that insight. It’s almost like you’re hacking insider trading in a way because if insider trading is all about knowing the current edge, then it looks like retail investors now can get the same access to that current edge in the crypto market.

That’s why we named it SIMETRI. The idea is that there’s so much information asymmetry in the market, the goal of SIMETRI is to bring symmetry to that market.

How do you define asymmetry there? Talk a little bit about what that asymmetry looks like to an average person who doesn’t have millions of dollars to invest, but wants to get involved?

That’s part of the biggest challenge in crypto right now is this level of transparency. The way you define information asymmetry is the idea that one party in a transaction has more or better information than the other party. We see this over and over again in the market ahead of a big announcement from a project. You’ll see the price run up before the announcement. The announcement hasn’t come out publicly yet but that means that there are people inside the project that are sharing their information with their friends and their family. They’re letting people know there’s something coming out that’s big that could potentially move a price. These guys are buying in and driving the price up already. By the time the news comes out, the margin’s thin already or it’s even gone. That’s one example. We see this over and over again. The goal is for us to be able to tackle these issues and be able to bring insight and information to our subscribers.

When you say that you’ve seen it over and over again, are you saying you’ve seen it mostly in the crypto markets or are you saying that with your background, you saw it in traditional markets as well? You’re seeing the same thing replicated that you’re trying to interrupt?

In the traditional market, there are a lot of rules and regulations and there’s also a lot of accountability and recourse with these companies. Many of these crypto companies are domiciled in sketchy offshore jurisdictions. We see it a lot to a different level in crypto. We think it’s a big problem.

NTE 50 | Fighting Off Fake News
Fighting Off Fake News: One of the biggest challenges of media is its economic structure because their economic incentives are not directly aligned with that of their readers.

 

 I think you’ve mentioned that your background’s in Economics. Is that what you went to school for?

Yes. I have a background in Economics. I graduated Econ from Columbia University. I’ve since also been an entrepreneur in various tech and media companies. I don’t know if I’ve actually been able to fully apply my economics background and acumen until I got into crypto and that’s where that muscle comes in handy. I’ve been mostly in product roles, entrepreneurial roles and building teams and products.

How many companies have you founded or been a part of a startup member early on? How many have you been a part of now?

I’ve been part of probably about five major startups. There have been a lot of false starts where we ideate and it just doesn’t work out. It’s better to fail early, but I’ve probably seen through about four to five at this point.

You’re talking four to five that have gotten to success or four to five including the crash and burn ones?

I think four to five that we’ve actually seen through for at least over a one to a two-year period where we actually went and launched a product and said, “This works and this doesn’t.” I’ve had some crash and burns for sure. I’ve learned some really valuable insights from that. Luckily, I got some of those out of the way early on in my career. I definitely had some nice base hits and in triples. This particular project, Crypto Briefing and SIMETRI, to me hit home because it’s something that I’m deeply passionate about. It’s something that I was doing regardless of whether or not there was a business even in place. We didn’t start this to be a money-making machine. We didn’t start this to be a business. It just so happened that we were filling a need.

You started out just wanting to be able to produce and give back to the crypto community and then it turned into like, “There’s a new stream here.”

The way we saw was myself and Jon, we both were strong blockchain enthusiasts and we’re both very passionate about blockchain and its ability to change the world. We said, “If this continues on, blockchain will not stand a chance.”

You say you and Jon, as cofounders, I know you usually have to find somebody with complementary skills. What is his background?

Jon comes from a media background and so his role is the managing editor of Crypto Briefing. He’s on the editorial side and cranking out news and opinion pieces and also some analysis. Just general, quick bites of information that we believe that people should have.

Between what you guys have been able to put together with SIMETRI now, if I as a retail investor wanting to learn more, if I go to SIMETRI, what am I going to expect? How is that going to engage me and what am I going to see when I get there?

You’ll see what SIMETRI is about and some of the different report types that we offer. There are a few different ways to look at crypto right now. From one perspective, it’s long-term, so anything from a year and above. We have a report type called our in-depth full digital asset reports where there are 25-plus page in-depth deep analysis going through on chain and off chain transactions. Where we compare projects to not just crypto projects, but any projects and traditional projects. At the end of the day, we’re not living in just crypto. These are things that should have commercial viability outside of the crypto market.

I talk to so many people about this and finally it came out. A friend of mine sent us and I love stealing it. He’s like, “Blockchain is like truffle. You don’t need a lot of it to flavor a dish. You just sprinkle it and leave it there. If you’re focusing on the truffle, it’s overkill. You don’t need to.” You said you went to school in New York, did you grow up in New York as well?

I did. I’ve been to New York since I was two years old. I moved to Singapore a few years ago and I just moved back to the States. I’m here in LA now. We’re also a distributed team, so we’re fully distributed. My partner, Jon, is right outside of St. Louis, Missouri, our biz dev team is New York. We have a code reviewer. Our chief code reviewer is in Cape Town, South Africa. We’ve got guys in Eastern Europe doing research and also Europe and in Asia. There’s something going on at all times of the day. There’s never a dull moment. If I want to wake up in the middle of the night and I can’t sleep, I can find work. I’ve got someone to talk to.

I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me. This has been so much fun and I want to make sure we hit on what people can do, where they can go and what they’re going to get. I want to share all of this knowledge with as many retail investors that are interested or even if they’re just lurkers. They’re wondering, “Where are the good investments?” or if it’s not necessarily good, where’s at least the reputable projects to keep an eye on? That seems to be the biggest thing that we need in this space. You are filling it.

We’re very excited about it and going through reputable projects and also giving people ideas. People have a stronger appetite for riskier plays but also have strong fundamentals. We also have different reports for more aggressive plays as well. We’re able to touch upon a few different interests.

If you’re focusing on the truffle, it's overkill. Click To Tweet

I can see a future where Wealth Friends starts finally integrating with like crypto and saying, “We’re happy to help you manage your portfolio,” and using you guys as a wonderful newsfeed. I see so much traditional and non-traditional coming together over the next few years. I think you are ahead of the curve.

We’re excited to be partnering. We’ve got a lot of these partnerships in the pipeline. We also partnered with a CoinMarketCap and CoinGecko. They’ll be showing a summary of our reports as long as our investment rating to all the token pages as well. We’re looking forward to more of these kinds of branches and slowly integrating to the traditional world as well.

As the more and more traditional nutritional world finally catches up, you guys are going to be right there on the top of that wave. It’ll be great to see. I wish you guys all the best. I’m so excited about SIMETRI. Thank you so much for being on this.

Thank you, Monika. Thank you for having me. It’s been really fun.

This is Monika Proffitt and Han Kao. We’ll catch you in the next episode.

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About Han Kao

NTE 50 | Fighting Off Fake News

Han is the Founder and CEO of Crypto Briefing. He grew up in New York City and graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in Economics. He is a serial entrepreneur who has founded and exited several companies in tech and media over the past 15 years. He is also an early-stage investor in various blockchain-based companies. Han is now based in Los Angeles.

About Crypto Briefing

NTE 50 | Fighting Off Fake NewsCrypto Briefing is an independent cryptocurrency analysis firm and media provider focusing on bringing trust and transparency to the industry. The company is unique in the space, in that it has never accepted advertising or sponsored stories. Following recent successful seed funding rounds, Crypto Briefing has furnished a series of token reports to its readers in the lead-up to the launch of its institutional SIMETRI product. Crypto Briefing is currently pursuing the expansion of their transparency and trust initiative as it partners with high-profile analytics and reporting firms, like CoinGecko and CoinMarketCap.

About CoinGecko

CoinGecko aims to provide a 360-degree overview of the crypto asset market. In addition to tracking crypto asset price, volume and network value, CoinGecko also tracks fundamental data such as community growth, open-source code development, major events and on-chain metrics. CoinGecko’s objective is to elevate participants’ understanding of the fundamental factors that drive the market. CoinGecko is one of the largest and earliest crypto asset data aggregators, operating since early 2014. It currently tracks over 5,100 tokens from over 350 exchanges. For more information, visit https://www.coingecko.com.

 

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