Crypto-dedicated firms, such as ConsenSys, Huobi, and Bitmain, may have shivered amid the extended Bitcoin price crash, deemed a winter. Yet, in the Swiss Alps, industry upstarts have successfully donned blockchain parkas, and have been actively weathering the frigid precipitation.
Blockchain Upstarts Flock To “Crypto Valley”
“Swiss Blockchain industry is defying ‘crypto winter’” was the claim that crypto fund CV VC’s insights squad touted in its most recent report on Switzerland’s flowering blockchain space. And per its analysis, maybe the research group isn’t wrong.
Although the publicly-traded valuation of Switzerland and Liechtenstein’s top fifty firms have plunged from $44 billion to $20 billion (in Q4 of 2018 alone), the headcount has “soared.” In fact, the count ran from 629 to 750 (20% increase) in three months’ time, a growth figure that was in stark contrast to the collapsing value of Bitcoin, XRP, among other cryptocurrencies.
Among notable blockchain-centric with operations in the region include Bitmain, Ethereum, Dfinity, and Cardano, so-called “unicorns” with valuations of over $1 billion apiece. Save for Dfinity, a decentralized computing upstart that plans to facilitate “cloud 3.0,” the firms are much, much more valuable than the $1 billion required to be deemed “unicorns.” Live Coin Watch previously reported that Bitmain, the Beijing-based mining hardware giant, was once valued at $15 billion. And per data from our markets data provider, Ethereum isn’t trailing too far behind, as the network’s tokens trade at $13 billion collectively.
This simple fact accentuates how Zug, Switzerland, Lichenstein, and surrounding regions have become a hotspot for cryptocurrencies, likely due to the local government’s relatively lax regulatory measures and pro-Bitcoin sentiment.
Case in point, Binance launched a crypto-to-fiat exchange in the region previously, as local governmental incumbents welcomed industry participants with open arms.
Even The Alps Aren’t Safe
While a majority of organizations in the region have staved off frostbite, especially as more companies join in the blockchain huddle, there are one or two exceptions. ShapeShift, the company behind an “instant” crypto-to-crypto exchange that shares its name, CoinCap, KeepKey, among other ventures, recently had to make a tough decision.
CEO Erik Voorhees, recently dubbed “Bitcoin’s last gunslinger” by Forbes Crypto, remarked in a company blog post that ShapeShift had to let 37 employees go, a purported one-third of the firm’s entire employee base. He explained that while this purge was “deep and painful,” the reduction in staffers was done in a bid to extend ShapeShift’s financial runway, especially as ShapeShift seeks to refocus its efforts.
CoinCap, KeepKey, among the conglomerate’s other promising ventures cost human and financial capital, time, and legal support. This diversification “diverted” talent, complicated logistics, hurt the customer support team, and “changed hiring priorities,” leading to the situation we have today, where much of ShapeShift’s growth has been rushed. This aside, Voorhees maintained that he sees long-term potential in this potentially paradigm-shifting innovation, writing:
“My hope — and goal is — that financial sovereignty becomes a pillar of 21st-century civilization, one of its most important advancements… May we find the strength and discipline to struggle through every obstacle toward victory; toward a world of borderless, apolitical finance for all humans.”
Title Image Courtesy of Ian Schneider on Unsplash