Tim Draper: Why Dubai and Abu Dhabi Are Winning the Crypto Race

We had the opportunity to spend time with Tim Draper during Paris Blockchain Summit and the AIM Summit in London where Unlock Blockchain is a media partner and episodes of the show ‘Meet the Drapers’ were recorded. During an exclusive private roundtable in London moderated by Zachary Cefaratti, Venture Partner at Draper Associates and founder of AIM Summit, Tim discussed market predictions and his career in venture capital, not only creating global wealth but changing the world and make our lives better. “I cannot think of a better thing to do. But yes, of course, it is like going to a garage sale. You have to filter through all the stuff that was there before you find the few diamonds in the rough,” said billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper.

Noteworthy successes to date include being the first American investor in leading Chinese search engine Baidu, supporting the founders of Hotmail, early backing of Skype, investing in Tesla, supporting SpaceX, playing a role in the growth of Twitch, the live streaming platform for gamers, and championing Bitcoin and decentralization.

“I just love it. It does not feel like work to me, and I cannot think of a better thing to do,” said Draper, whose process is to go in cold when he interviews people. “I have learned that if you ask the stupid question, you get the best answer. You set them up with the second question; it is all in that first question.”

As to his famous prediction that Bitcoin’s price would exceed $250,000 by end 2022, he said: “I just want to make it clear. I was wrong.” However, Draper added: “The answer now in my mind is the price becomes relative to $1 and becomes almost infinite because I think ultimately people will stop using dollars for storage.” Pressed as to when it would hit his magical figure, Draper jokingly commented: “Later than 2022.” However, he added: “By the end of the year. I think most of the sellers are out today. And then it is just everybody holds on, and there is no market until it gets to the right price.”

In terms of the themes defining the current crypto cycle, Draper said: “I tend to focus on Bitcoin more because I do think that it all kind of consolidates around a few that have become trusted, and I think that means they have got to be decentralized. Centralized control does not make any sense.”

Draper explained that confidence is instilled in a few key cryptocurrencies, which then attracts programmers, designers, and engineers to focus on these exclusively. “That is what is happening now. They are taking all the interesting new applications and applying them all to Bitcoin. I think that is kind of where a lot of entrepreneurs are headed, and it is the important ones that are moving over to Bitcoin.”

Hailed as both an OG and a whale in the industry, Draper Associates at heart remains a venture capitalist company. Draper revealed that, at present, his flagship fund comprised about 30% crypto-related companies. “Now with Bitcoin I think it is in the inflection stage. We have already had the hype cycle, we have come down, and slowly but surely, we hardly notice it becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives. And at some point, we get the equivalent of Amazon and Apple, Google and Facebook coming out of this cycle.”

Commenting on blockchain technology in general, Draper said it was clear “which countries are starting to really embrace innovation” and which countries are stymied by ego-driven leadership. “The best leaders, of course, are the ones who set clear direction and let everybody run to see how it goes. They trust their people. And you are starting to see that in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and even competition among some countries, which is exciting.”

Draper added that favorable destinations like Dubai were suddenly seeing an influx of entrepreneurs from disparate regions such as the US and China. “They are looking for the place that is the freest. That is what entrepreneurs do. I have actually had some country leaders approach me to ask how they can move up the innovation index. We tell them here are the things we are looking at, so you can see what you can do to make a bigger impact and encourage more entrepreneurs to your country.”

Draper said that streamlining the tax framework and regulatory environment was key. “You can build any kind of a business in a sandbox.” Therefore, regulation is only required once a certain critical mass has been reached. Then there are left-leaning countries that regard social imperatives such as poverty reduction to be more important than innovation and entrepreneurship, but failing to recognize or understand how intertwined these concepts are.

“They are the ones who say we have got to focus on the homeless problem. When you focus on the homeless problem, you end up with more homeless. You have to focus on the Moon or Mars to attract the best and brightest and build a credible education system to make your world rock. Open up the markets and let them rip.”

Draper said that innovations like blockchain had an inherent potential to revolutionize industries like real estate, assets, and even businesses, especially in the form of tokenization. Real estate tokenization represents fractional ownership of a property through blockchain-based security tokens. It allows property owners to divide their assets into smaller units or tokens that Investors can then buy and trade to enhance liquidity.

“I think that is going to happen. You know, a fancy painting will be tied to blockchain, and you will know the entire history of who owned the painting forever. I think it is going to be great as it means we can keep perfect records. I cannot wait until my business is totally on blockchain. I cannot wait for the moment I can raise the money in Bitcoin, invest it all in Bitcoin, and have companies pay their employees, suppliers, and taxes in Bitcoin and keep perfect records in this walled garden.”

Draper concluded: “It will all be on blockchain. Everybody knows what happened and it is protected. Therefore, I do not need an audit or the account because it is all in real-time. It is happening right now. And my investors understand that a smart contract is all that is needed to ensure profitability and viability in the long run.”

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