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Want to invest in Bitcoin? The Canadian Bitcoin Trust just launched and is now available to eligible investors.

As most of you know I am a big believer in Bitcoin and I have been for years. I invested in Bitcoin, I invested in Bitcoin companies, I speak at Bitcoin and blockchain conferences, and I founded and run a blockchain company. One thing I realized over the years is that buying Bitcoin and keeping it safe is still a major hurdle for investors. Experienced “Bitcoiners” may think it’s easy, but if you have never bought coins and you need to transfer money to an exchange and then set up a wallet, it can be a daunting task. If you invest a significant amount of money you want to make sure the bitcoins are safe and you may worry about getting hacked. So many people asked me about how to buy Bitcoin that last year I decided to solve this problem.

The idea Tom Kineshanko and I came up with was to launch a trust that would issue units that represent part of a bitcoin. People can buy these units, so effectively they buy small parts of a Bitcoin without having to physically buy Bitcoin themselves and without having to worry about being hacked. It’s comparable to buying shares in a private company, although in this case the company is Bitcoin and the shares are relatively liquid.

In order to get this started we teamed up with super-entrepreneur Sean Clark, who is among others the former Co-Founder of Shoes.com. Together we founded First Block Capital earlier this year and raised $700,000 for it in one week (probably a record for a start-up in Vancouver). FBC is the management company that will eventually run several funds, including a cryptocurrency hedge fund that will be managed by Tom, and the first vehicle we started was a Bitcoin trust.

Sean and I launched the the Canadian Bitcoin Trust in June to accredited investors, with a minimum investment of $1 million per investor. But our aim was to open it for retail investors as well. That was easier said than done, because you need licenses to sell to the general public – which is a good thing in my opinion, there have been too many scams and pump & dumps in Canada. So we applied for these licenses but it will take at least a few more months to get these and we wanted to be the first to launch a product like this to the retail sector in Canada.

We managed to become the first by partnering with FrontFundr, an equity crowdfunding platform based out of Vancouver. I am a shareholder in FrontFundr and I am on their Investment Committee, so I knew they had these licenses already and that we could potentially work with them if we would prepare a so-called Offering Memorandum. Together with our law firm (Borden Ladner Gervais, BLG) we worked crazy hours over the past couple of weeks to get this done and this week we got the green light to put our offering online. Having the best law firm was not cheap, but BLG helped us to navigate the many hurdles and potential roadblocks, and they were fully committed to help us to launch as soon as possible. I am very impressed with their work, especially after having worked with many other top law firms over the past decade.

We are now officially the first investment vehicle (in Canada) that allows eligible investors to own bitcoin through owning units of a trust. We know a couple of other firms are working on similar ideas and one even tried to launch yesterday as well – too bad they didn’t know we already launched a month ago without mentioning it in the press. We have big plans for the future of the Canadian Bitcoin Trust, but I can’t write about it here until we have our licenses.

If you’re interested to own some Bitcoin you can go to our campaign on FrontFundr and invest on the site. The minimum investment amount is CAN$500, there is no maximum amount. Except for US citizens we should be able to accept investors from most countries in the world, as long as you are able to invest in Canadian Dollar (so Chinese who want to invest would have to get C$ first). If you are an accredited investor who wants to put in at least $1 million please get in touch with me directly. The press release for our launch is here.

Happy investing!

Note: This is not investment advice! Bitcoin is very risky and investing in the Canadian Bitcoin Trust could mean losing all your money. Please read the Offering Memorandum that we published on FrontFundr site before making any investment decisions.

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Bitcoin seems to become mainstream

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Over the past couple of months the Bitcoin price exploded, from around $1000 in early January to almost $3000 earlier this week. The price increase not only leads to more people being aware of the cryptocurrency, but also to mainstream financial media taking it more serious. This morning I was very surprised to see that the Wall Street Journal casually mentioned on its front page the four asses classes stocks, bonds, gold and bitcoin! That is huge, as far as I know that has never happened before. Bitcoin has come a long way, happy to see it’s becoming a lot more mainstream.

Going to the Business & Finance section of today’s WSJ, my surprise got even bigger when I saw the title of the main article on the front page of that section “Bitcoin Trades Full Speed Ahead”. Wow… For years I have told people why Bitcoin won’t go away, why it is so valuable, and why people should invest 5% of their net assets in it. For years most people did not want to listen, but at least the ones that listened made incredible money on their bitcoin investments. And then all of a sudden the WJS puts bitcoin in the same league as stocks, bonds, and gold! This really made my day.

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By the way, I still believe bitcoin is undervalued and the bitcoin price will go up a lot more. If you follow my Twitter feed this is no news to you, I have been telling people for years to keep buying bitcoin and also told them to buy Ethereum and Ethereum Classic in early February (people who did that made $15,000-$20,000 for every $1000 they invested – in just 4 months).

But what will happen to the bitcoin price now that it’s at almost $3000? Is this a bubble? I wrote an article about this earlier this week to the investors in First Block Capital, the management company that runs several bitcoin and altcoin funds. I copy/paste the article below with some small changes to avoid that this is seen as marketing for our own funds (it is not of course, it is my personal opinion that anybody can agree or disagree with).

Cryptomarket overview

Since we closed our investment round in late April the cryptomarket suddenly went into exponential growth mode. Bitcoin grew from $1360 in late April to about $2700 in late May, before bouncing back to about $2000 and then growing back to $2900 at the time of writing (June 5). Altcoins have seen even stronger growth, with not only the smallcap coins but even some of the larger coins such as Ripple, Ethereum, and Ethereum Classic exploding in value. Daily price increases of 30-50% were not uncommon for some of these coins during this period.

What is behind this trend, specifically for Bitcoin? Is it a bubble? Yes and no, growth rates of consistently more than 10% per day are highly unusual and normally a clear sign of a bubble. That’s why I was quite happy to see Bitcoin go down 25% in 2 days around May 25. After this cooling off period slower growth started immediately, showing that nobody had lost appetite in Bitcoin yet. After about a week the price was back at $2500 and then over the past 2 days the price started increasing with about 10% per day.

The reason for the fast growth is simply supply and demand. The bitcoin supply is fixed at 21 million coins, and currently about 16.4 million coins have been mined. The rate of growth in coins is decreasing and only 4.6 million more will ever be created. At the same time more people hear about Bitcoin. People who may have dismissed it a few years ago are surprised Bitcoin is still around and growing faster than ever. Suddenly they realize they may have been wrong all along or they may still not get it, but want to at least hedge their bets. So they want to own a Bitcoin themselves. When not enough new coins are created and nobody is selling (most Bitcoin holders are so called HODLers – they “Hold On for Dear Life” in the Bitcoin rollercoaster) the price will automatically go up until someone feels enticed to sell.

And what happens if the price goes up? More people hear about it and want to own a coin as well, leading to even faster growth. This is what happened in May and what will happen very soon again. There are just not enough coins available and demand is going through the roof. Bitcoin exchange Coinbase added 400,000 users just in May this year. The average waiting time to get approved by an exchange is up to 3-4 weeks for most exchanges. All these people will talk to their friends after they made 20% profit in just a few days, and then some of their friends will want to get into the game as well. 

A bubble, yes, but not an unsustainable one. Look in your direct circle of friends or family, likely most of you will not have more than 2 or 3 good friends or family members that hold Bitcoin. That means most people you know have not even thought about buying coins, let alone really bought them. That’s not the sign of a bubble. Institutional money is not even in the game yet, simply because most funds can’t invest directly in Bitcoin (we are working on solving that!). Or think about it this way, the US has about 11 million millionaires. If all of them wanted to have just one Bitcoin that would be impossible. There are only 4.6 million coins left, prices would likely have to go into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per coin to convince enough people to sell. 

Some people may say that Bitcoin prices of $2500 are crazy, but I don’t agree. I have been in the market since prices were below $100 and each time the price hit a new psychological hurdle people said that Bitcoin was overpriced. At those lower prices I was never fully convinced whether Bitcoin would make it and whether the prices reflected the real value of Bitcoin. But the longer Bitcoin survived, the more I realized how resilient it is. Now that the public is finally waking up to Bitcoin I believe the currency is suddenly very undervalued. I have seen the fast growth from $100 to $1000, I have seen the crash from $1000 to $200, followed by the slow growth back to $1000. I have then seen the fast growth from $1000 to 3000, I am now fully convinced we may see $5000 quite soon and potentially even $10,000 later this year. And after that? Nobody knows. But if Wall Street gets into the game and if people really start treating Bitcoin as digital gold prices of $100,000 or more are very well possible. We will get lots of crashes in between, it won’t be straight growth. But keep in mind that you should HODL – don’t sell your coins in a sudden panic wave of sell orders. 

There are still some risks, but they are getting smaller. The biggest risk is still how to keep your coins safe, and that is what First Block Capital will help its investors with. Later this month we will go live with a campaign on FrontFundr so Canadian retail investors can invest in Bitcoin as well. A self fulfilling prophecy? Partly, but a prophecy in which I believe completely. 

Next time some more information on some of the major alt coins that we plan to invest in through our hedge fund and what I see happening there. Always feel free to get in touch with remarks or questions and keep in mind I intentionally left a lot of information out (Segwit and Hard Fork anyone?). Happy crypto investing!

Marc van der Chijs

June 5, 2017

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A stock market crash is inevitable

For months I have been surprised to see that the US stock market keeps breaking records. Yes, I get it of course, corporations and investors believe the Trump presidency means lower taxes and more stimulus for businesses. However, by now any rational person should realize that most of this will be pure wishful thinking.

In my opinion the USA is headed for disaster, but most market participants don’t want to see it. Trump behaves like he is crazy, just looking at his tweets it is clear that he does not belong in the White House. Not only does he not seem to grasp what it means to be president, but with his erratic behavior and thin skin he is a danger to the world. Most of his voters didn’t want to see it before the election, which was a surprise to me. But it seems most still don’t want to see it, and that is why I believe the US economy -and with that the stock market- is headed for disaster. When will that happen? I think fairly soon. I see so many red flags that I wanted to write a quick blog post about it. 

This week the world faces some important economic and political events that may lead to a perfect storm. First of all the Brexit vote. If the UK indeed decides to leave the EU this will be a major setback and could lead to a shockwave on financial markets. On Wednesday the Dutch will have their elections. Normally not an important event (at least not for the rest of the world), but given that the right-wing populist party of Geert Wilders has a chance to win, this could lead to a new shockwave. Next to that the FED will make a decision on the interest rates. Trump wants to see economic growth, so he wants to keep the rates low, but it seems likely that the FED will start increasing its rates this week. That’s bad news for business, especially because this will be the beginning of a series of rate increases.

But most important, and something you don’t read much about in the media (yet), is that Wednesday night the US will reach its debt ceiling. That means that the country is not able to borrow more money to finance its deficit. With $20 trillion (!) in debts the country is in unsustainable territory already, but now things are getting even worse. In the past debt ceilings were always increased, although sometimes at the last moment and after a serious stand-off. However, now that Trump is in power there is no Democrat who would vote for an increase in the debt ceiling. So the world may realize on Thursday morning that the good times might suddenly be over.

The US has enough money to keep paying its bills until early this summer (mainly interest payments on debt), but it will have cut a lot of other costs do so. That in itself is problematic already, but when that happens Trump might finally realize that his plans for tax cuts and additional infrastructure and defense expenses simply won’t work. Or if he still doesn’t get it, it is likely that at least the market will understand that fiscal stimulus measures are unlikely to happen.

And what will happen the moment the US really runs out of cash is anybody’s guess. I would actually not be surprised if Trump would choose to go for a default its obligations and then blame it on the Democrats (he indicated this once during his election campaign!). I believe this would pave the way for a dictatorship: the economy would completely fall apart, people would not only lose their social security but also their pensions, and riots would be very likely. Trump would then re-emerge as the strong man who will solve it, by blaming anybody but himself for the mess.

Summarizing, from an economic point of view I don’t believe the stock market rally can continue for much longer. To me it seems a huge stock market crash is inevitable. It’s not a question if it will happen, but only when it will happen. The moment the first investors start heading for the exits the whole house of cards may collapse. If you are an investor you should consider hedging your bets by going into gold, silver and possibly Bitcoin. Don’t wait too long. 

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Job opportunity: Full-time founding CEO at new Canadian Bitcoin Fund

 

A team of four experienced serial startup and fund founders will launch a Canadian Bitcoin and Altcoin Investment Fund out of either Vancouver or Toronto.

A Canadian management company will be set up to run multiple crypto funds:

Fund 1: tax efficient bitcoin buy and hold fund.
> Value to investors: they get secure exposure to bitcoin and their bitcoin is managed by experts, their gains are taxed at 50% less than if they held bitcoin directly

Fund 2: bitcoin alpha fund
One of our co-founders, a machine learning PhD who has been building trading algorithms for 100M+ hedge funds for the past 6 years, will be designing our trading strategy/algos.
> Value to investors: a team of very experienced people will trade their bitcoin

Fund 3: altcoin ICO fund
This one requires a deeper understanding of the crypto world, in short we’ll be buying into “Initial Coin Offerings” – digital IPOs effectively where we can buy and then later sell tokens (crypto curency units) at a gain.
> Value to investors: significant, liquid, upside

Status:
The team has worked with a major law firm for the past 4 months and has determined the best structure to set this up. The team also has about 70% of the seed capital needed to open and begin raising money into fund 1. We need to find a few more friends/family investors to invest in the management company.

We are looking for a proven entrepreneur who wants to commit to this full time for at least 3 years. Large stock incentive package available for the right candidate.

My preferred candidate should be an entrepreneur based in Canada (or someone with previous experience in Canada who would be willing to move here), should have raised money before, should have a working knowledge of and interest in bitcoin and altcoins, and should have some previous fund experience.

If interested send me an email: marcvanderchijs@gmail.com. Feel free to share!

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How to live forever: the science of longevity

First of all a Happy New Year to all my readers!

In 2016 I started paying a lot more attention to my health and especially to what I eat. There were several reasons for that, but an important source of inspiration was Tim Ferris’ podcast series. Among others I started experimenting with the ketogenic diet, a high fat and protein diet that can put your body into ketosis. I also started doing intermittent fasting, by skipping breakfast regularly and having a late lunch and thereby fasting for 16-18 hours a day. When reading more about fasting I found that many studies have shown that this can lead to an increased life span.

That peaked my interest so I started reading more about the factors that determine human longevity. I was fascinated by what I found and by how far research has come already. I also realized that mainstream media is playing this down a bit. Until a few months ago I thought it would be impossible to live forever, but now I realize that we are actually pretty close to a breakthrough.

Aging is a disease, a disease that can be stopped and that can be reversed. We know how to do it already, but we are not able to do it technically yet. There are some simple ways to start doing this and I’ll include these in this post as well. Why mass media does not pick up that story is something I don’t get. It’s probably just like with Bitcoin, only when it breaks through it gets on the radar of journalists.

This post is for a large part based on an Exponential View podcast I recently listened to, an interview with Dr. Shamil Chandaria. If this topic interests you you should listen to it, it goes a bit deeper than my analysis and is a good start to dig deeper into this topic.

How long can a human being live? If you were born about 150 years ago your median lifespan would be about 45 years. Right now the median lifespan of a newborn in the US is about 88 years, so roughly double what it was in the mid 1800s. However, the oldest person on earth around 1850 was over 100 years old, but the oldest person alive right now is about 115 years old (the verifiably oldest person alive made it to 122 years). That means that even if we live healthy, avoid major accidents and are lucky enough not to get cancer, our bodies will eventually stop working when we turn 120 years old. So longevity is not only about getting us to live to 120 (which is doable if you’re lucky to avoid major diseases), but especially to get us over the 120 year age cliff. 

But probably even more important is to be healthy when you get older. If you spend your last 30 years sick in bed there is no real use in getting older. If I would be so sick that I knew I would never be able to have a normal active life anymore I would almost certainly decide to do euthanasia. Getting older for the sake of getting older doesn’t make sense, you should be able to have a meaningful life. So longevity is also about the quality of life. Health economists have been able to quantify this with the term QALY (quality life-adjusted year). Basically if you are completely healthy one year is worth one Qaly, if you are dead you accumulate zero Qalys per year. There are situations where your life is so bad that you actually accumulate negative Qalys, but I won’t go there in this post. The goal of longevity is to increase the Qaly value of your life as much as possible. 

How many factors do you think will determine how long you will live? I always assumed there would probably be at least a 100 factors, but it turns out there are only 10 factors. We already know what these 10 factors are and scientists think that we can solve most of these problems over the next 25 years. I wonder if they take artificial intelligence into account in that calculation, in combination with the exponential rate of change in technology? If not immortality may be a reality much earlier already. But even if it still takes another 25 years this means we may be able to live forever if we manage to stay healthy until about 2050!

To me that is fascinating. There may be people among us now already that may never die. It sounds crazy because we are all programmed to eventually die, but we will likely be able to change our code. Obviously this has a lot of social and economic implications. Things like what does this mean for our world if we keep procreating? Do we really want to live forever? What happens to the sense of urgency that many scientists have, knowing that you only have a limited number of years on this planet? I won’t go into that here, but the podcast above touches on this subject, so you may want to listen to that. There are tons of articles on that on the Internet as well of course, although many focus on longevity in the sense of all of us living longer, not all of us being immortal (which is a obviously a big difference). 

As I mentioned earlier, aging is a disease. As we age we get more cellular damage, but we also have a cellular repair mechanism. When we are young our cell repair is faster than the damage we do, but at a certain point in our lives the repair can’t keep up with the damage anymore. The result is aging. So one important thing longevity science is looking at is how to improve the repair mechanism. Cells replicate and each time that  happens a bit of so called telomeres gets removed. Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes. That is a problem but it limits how often cells can replicate (this is called the Hayflick limit), and after the telomeres are gone your cell basically dies.

It turns out that there is an enzyme that increases the length of telemores. Some animals (like lobsters) have activated this enzyme, meaning that they keep on growing and eventuallly die because they get too big. If we are able to activate this enzyme (which is called telomerase) we may be able to increase the number of times that our cells can replicate. That could lead to cellular immortality which is a huge step for longevity. So far only one person on this planet has done telomerase gene therapy. Her name is Liz Parrisch, the CEO of Seattle-based biotech company BioViva. Initial results seem very promising (her telemores had increased in length by 620 base pairs), but of course a sample of one is too small to lead to any conclusions. But this is a very promising start!

Of course gene therapy is not available to anyone yet, and likely won’t be for a couple of more years, so what else could you do? The easiest and probably one of the most effective ways of living longer is by reducing the number of calories that you consume. This is easy in the sense that you don’t need a doctor to prescribe you medecine, but in our society of (over)eating and drinking it is not easy to keep it up. Luckily there is a solution for that and that’s intermittent fasting. It’s something I have been doing on and off for the past couple of months and it’s very easy to do. Basically you eat dinner before 8 pm and then don’t eat any calories anymore before you go to bed. The next morning you skip breakfast (You can have water, coffee or tea. I try to start every day with a big glass of warm water, often with lemon) and you don’t have lunch before 12. In that way your body is in fasting mode for at least 16 hours per day. You get used to it very quickly and I am not hungry at all. 

Once you have done some intermittent fasting you can try to go for just one meal a day during one or two days per week, or even go to 2-3 day fasts. It’s not that hard to do, but you have to be motivated. You will see results very quickly. I feel like I am in a better shape than ever before, I sleep better and I lost weight as well. Keep in mind that you should not overindulge during your one or two meals per day, fasting should be done in a combination with caloric restriction and preferably also with a reduced number of carbs. If you’re interested in this do a Google search on ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting. 

When calories are scarce cells can be turned into repair mode. Cells will start to recycle components, including ones that do not work well. Damaged proteins, like the ones that will cause Alzheimer’s, could disappear as well. This may sound too good to be true, but lots of studies have actually shown this works. My strong belief is that big pharma doesn’t really want you to know about these simple ways of getting into better health, that’s why most people don’t know about it. Scary how our world works…

Several of my friends in Silicon Valley take Metformin supplements. Metformin is a traditional anti-diabetes drug that works by depressing glucose production in the liver. But it also increases the number of oxygen molecules released into a cel, which increase robustness and longevity. After doing a lot of research on it I am planning to start taking Metformin this year. 

Another drug that seems even more powerful than Metformin is Rapamycin. I first learned about Rapamycin in a super interesting Tim Ferris podcast that the taped on Easter Island with some leading longevity scientists (Rapamycin was first discover on Easter Island). It turns out Big Pharma learned about it as well and Novartis is pushing to bring a Rapamycin pill to market. Rapamycin has a lot more potential risks than Metformin (mainly because it’s not been tested as much), but it’s probably safer to take it than to not take it. It has shown that mice live up to 60% longer and the effect on dogs is also amazing. So my quest in 2017 will be to find a legitimate supplier of Rapamycin, I really want to give this a try.

I think if you will start going on a ketogenic diet, reduce calories through fasting and take Metformin regularly (next to doing sports 4-5 times a week and make sure you get all vitamins and minerals that you need, which is a prerequisite for being healthy), you should be able to have a more healthy life and you should be able to keep aging in check. It’s not a recipe to turn 120 but it may help you to reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. If you want to stay healthy for the next 20-30 years this may help to get you there. 

There are a lot more ways to help you with anti-aging, but most are hard to do right now or quite expensive. A relatively easy one is hyperbaric oxygen therapy, something that professional athletes are already using regularly to recover more quickly from injuries. The easiest way is to buy an hyperbaric oxygen chamber and starting sleeping in it every now and then, you can find basic models online for around $10,000. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps to grow new blood vessels into tissue, and it’s been proven that it causes stem cell release from bone marrow into circulation. Next to that it suppresses inflammation, which is also important for aging because most chronic diseases are now recognized to result from chronic inflammation.

If you have enough money to spend you can start looking at doing stem cell therapy (you can easily get this done in Thailand already). This seems to be very effective and it might become more normal over the next couple of years. Another therapy that can quickly rejuvenate you is to replace your blood by young blood (parabiosis). Among others venture capitalist Peter Thiel is doing this already. It may be a way to not only stop aging but to actually reverse it. Tests in mouse have shown amazing results, among other by rejuvenating aging tissue and by awakening old stem cells. Advanced clinical studies on humans are underway in China and Korea already. Of course this is not without risk, what would happen it stem cells would grow uncontrollably for example?

There are several other ways to treat or reverse aging, but these are the most common ones (at least for now). Soon we’ll likely get gene editing therapies (think about CRISPR), but we are not there yet. The most important thing for me is that reversing aging turns out to be an engineering problem and that means it can be solved. We now know what is needed but we don’t have all the tools to do it yet. There has been a lot of progress and it seems to be just a matter of time before we solve all of them. 

I am not sure if we should strive to be immortal, but beating death would certainly change humanity completely. To me this field is fascinating and I will keep on doing my own research. I will also keep doing more of my own trials with fasting and taking supplements during the coming year. For me the main goal is to stay healthy into old age and to do it in a way that does not disrupt my life completely while doing it. So you won’t find me sleeping in a hyperbaric oxygen tent soon, nor will I do any young blood transfusions or go to a stem cell clinic. Enjoy life and stay healthy! 

Please note that this blog post reflects my personal opinion and is based on many articles and podcasts, not on my own scientific research. Please do your own research and/or check with your physician before trying any of the methods that I describe in this article. 

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Food innovations: the coming disruption of the meat industry

Compared to most other industries there has not been a lot of innovation in the food industry, but that will change soon. The number of human beings keeps on growing, and the expectation is that there may be 9.7 billion people on this planet by 2050. If that’s the case food production will not be able to keep up with demand without major innovations. At the same time food production has a big impact on climate change as well, so innovations are inevitable if we want to survive as a species. 

One interesting innovation that I have been paying a lot of attention to, is how meat can be produced in a more sustainable way. I started looking at this a few months ago after watching a couple of documentaries on the food industry, especially on how meat is produced and on how animals are treated. The way animals are grown and slaughtered was beyond my worst imagination. Not only that, but because of these practices food is just not safe anymore. I decided to reduce my meat intake considerably and I only tried to buy ‘high end’ meat. I also started looking at meat alternatives.

Currently there are 2 kinds of meat alternatives: clean meat and plant-based meat. Plant-based meat has been around for a number of years, but there have been huge innovations in the last few years. Companies like Impossible Foods have created meat-like products with a taste and texture that is almost exactly the same as real meat. Clean meat is a more recent innovation. Companies like Memphis Meats have come up with ways to grow meat from animal cells, without the need to breed, feed and slaughter real animals. These products are not on the market yet, but they will be over the next years.

I believe both approaches are fantastic innovations. Breeding animals for food is extremely inefficient because you feed an animal plant based foods to grow itself and then slaughter it for some of its meat. The most efficient animal to produce meat is the chicken, but even there you will need to feed it 9 calories for every calorie of meat that you will get. If you think about it, that’s completely crazy. 

Getting people to switch to meatless meat may seem hard, but I think it should not be a big problem. The biggest hurdle is to try it out for the first time. Once you have tasted it (I haven’t yet, so I am purely theorizing here) you will realize there is no difference. People buy food based on price, taste and convenience. If the taste factor is taken care of and if the meat will be available anywhere, price will be the differentiating factor.

Right now price is still a problem, and that’s likely why only high-end restaurants serve Impossible Foods’ products. But that will change: meatless meat uses exponentially fewer resources, so once the production scales it will be cheaper than normal meat. 

Decentralized manufacturing will add to this. You don’t have to raise cattle and feed it in location A, then transport it to a slaughterhouse in location B, and then bring it to the start of the distribution chain in location C. You can manufacture it in location C and save on all these transportation costs as well. Of course this only works once you get to scale, but I believe this could go relatively fast.

As a side note, once humanity will start inhabiting other planets, this kind of meat production will likely be the only way to get meat to places outside of earth. Timing is right, because I am a strong believer in the fact that in 10 years we will start inhabiting our first other planet already (Mars)

People now eat meat despite how it’s made. Mainly because most people have no idea how meat is produced and how bad it is for the environment. But also because there are no alternatives. Artificial meat will be produced in a much more transparant way, people will be able to see where their food comes from. This will make food safer and healthier. 

The impact on the world will be huge once these products are readily available. Meat production is a major contributor to climate change, estimates show that livestock production is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gasses. Next to that livestock production accounts for 70% (!) of all agricultural land use and occupies 30% of all land use on our planet. Without this a lot more land is available for other purposes. 

If you’re interested in this topic you should listen to a podcast by Andreessen Horowitz about this subject. I listened to the podcast driving to work this morning and it inspired me to write this article. I embedded the podcast below. It’s not very technical, so even if you don’t know anything about the subject it’s easy to follow. 

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Tesla self-driving cars are ready to replace drivers

I wrote about autonomous vehicles a couple of times on this blog. Just over a year ago I wrote they might hit the road by 2019-2020, while in 2013 I still thought the first one would only be on the street by 2023. But exponential change tricked me once again, because Tesla’s standard technology seems to be ready to go.

The last hurdle will be politics, but I think that can suddenly go very fast as well. If not in the US than certainly in other countries, forcing the US to follow. Even in the US I believe a couple of states will likely be early leaders (in my opinion California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington), ‘forcing’ other states to follow. My estimate is now that the first states will allow full self-driving within 2 years from now.

The video below shows how well Tesla’s hardware package (installed in every new Tesla from now onwards, but not activated yet) works in neighborhood traffic, including many intersections with traffic lights or stop sign. To me this is still very impressive, but this will soon be the new normal for all of us. I look forward to not having to drive myself anymore!

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Respect: my favorite vlogger stops his super successful vlog

IMG_5069I never watch TV, but do sometimes catch a show or movie on Netflix. Most of the time I spend watching video content is actually on YouTube nowadays, where I follow a couple of vloggers quite religiously. My #1 vlogger is Casey Neistat, a New York based film maker who travels constantly and who has a great way of storytelling. I have been following him, his wife, their toddler baby, and his adult son from a previous relationship, for the past 1.5 years on an almost daily basis. Well, that’s actually not completely true. I only started following Casey a few months after he started vlogging every day, but I watched almost all of his early videos, and I often binge watch 4-5 days of videos in one session, instead of watching one episode every day.

What I liked about him was not just following his interesting daily life, but especially his unique way of making videos. Casey is fun to watch, he makes me laugh almost every episode. He is also interesting, he shares his thoughts about current events (he was very much anti-Trump) and he always has (and breaks) the latest gadgets. In a way he is also cool, traveling the world by helicopter and plane, and getting around locally on his electric skateboard, while always wearing his trademark dark shades. Even my kids started watching him regularly a few months ago after watching his $21,000 First Class Emirates seat video, so he had a broad audience.

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Casey became very famous over the past year. From a relatively unknown guy (I had seen some of his early videos on Facebook in the past but didn’t know who he was) he became one of the most well-paid YouTubers. With 5 million subscribers to his daily videos he rakes in an estimated $2.5 million per year, “just” by making 10 minute videos (that take him 6-8 hours to make according to an earlier episode, although in the last video he told the audience the video takes him 16 hours per day)

Most people suddenly making that kind of money would do everything to keep earning that number. But not Casey. Yesterday he suddenly announced that he would stop making his daily videos. He said it wasn’t a challenge anymore, it became too easy! I can’t express how much I respect that. That shows this guy is really good, he is not afraid of the future even though it may cost him a lot of money. He realized that in order to keep on growing he had to stop doing his daily shows. He knew he didn’t want to keep doing this until he would be 40 (Casey is 34 now), so he decided to quite at the top of his fame. 

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It actually reminds me of a decision I had to make when I was 29 years old. I was working as an expat for Daimler’s regional headquarters in Beijing. I had a great life, with a nice company car, business class flights for holidays (paid for by the company!), a over-the-top US$6200 per month allowance for housing plus a salary that was much higher than most of my peers at that age.

However, I wasn’t really happy. The work was quite boring, mainly collecting information from subsidiaries, analyzing it and then putting the numbers into reports and presentations. There were a couple of projects that were supposed to be strategic but where I was told in advance by the board what the expected political result should be. Not what you really want to do as an ambitious 29-year old. 

I wasn’t learning much in the job, and the worst thing you can do at that age is being in a job where you don’t grow. So when in early 2002 I was asked whether I wanted to stay for another 3 years I said no. There was an option to get another managerial expat job in either Hong Kong or Indonesia, but I decided a multinational wasn’t for me. It was a golden cage and I realized that in order to develop to my full potential I would have to open the door and get out.

And that’s what I did. Many people told me I was crazy, and many of those are probably still the ones doing the rat race inside the same company. That just wasn’t what I wanted to do in life. It was not an easy decision, but because of that I respect people that dare to take similar decisions. You can’t hedge your bets and wait for the next big thing while you keep doing the the same things.

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Casey, you’ll likely will never read this, but I respect what you did very much. Most people wouldn’t dare to do what you did, but because you are willing to risk giving up your success you will be even more successful. I’ll miss following you in your daily life, but I am sure there’ll be even better content from you in the months and years to come. Good luck!

in Uncategorized

The World after Trump’s win

A lot has been written about Trump’s win in the elections on November 8, 2016. So much that I don’t believe a post of mine will add much to the discussion.  The reason I write a post anyway, is because I want to have my thoughts on Trump out there, so I can look back at them in the future to see where I went wrong in my analysis (because I really hope I am wrong!). So far I mainly used Twitter and Facebook to voice my opinion, but I prefer to keep my analysis on my own servers. 

I believe we are on the brink of some major changes to the world we live in, be it civil war in the US and/or Europe, or even a World War III caused by Donald Trump. This is not a conclusion I reached this week, but something I have been saying for a much longer time.

It’s actually one reason I moved to Canada. I believe this country is much safer than many others because of its more moderate politics, the very restrictive gun laws, and the fact that climate change may actually make most of the country more livable. Because of the huge divide between rich and poor in many Western countries I expect that we may see a 21st century version of the French Revolution in many parts of the world. The fact that Trump was elected is a clear sign that people are fed up with the system and want changes now.

The problem is that Trump won’t be able to provide these changes. Most of the voters don’t seem to realize that Trump is simply a liar, one who has been lying his whole life to get to where he is now. Not sure how successful he has really been financially, but for sure he made part of his money by bullying others and by not caring about the less powerful people. Don’t expect that to change. 

My prediction is that he won’t be able to keep most of his promises, except for the ones that are easy to fulfill and that will make his voters happy. Which ones? I believe mainly the racial ones. He may not be able to build a wall and let Mexico pay for it, but he will find a way to start sending immigrants back – or at the very least stop new ones from coming in. He will try to pass anti-gay laws, despite potentially having Peter Thiel in his inner circle. The fact that Trump does not publicly condemn the acts of hatred and racism that happened over the past days since his election, shows that his racism was not just talk to get elected.

Of course he will blame others for not being able to fulfill his promises, that’s something he is very good at. And his voters will likely believe him and blame the ‘others’ for not getting a better life. He knows how to play the media and how to play his voters.

The media should realize that history repeats itself. Media that predict that Trump may become more moderate because he can’t keep his promises may be wrong. Compare this to a 1932 quote in the New York Times, during Hitler’s rise to power: “If Nazis are allowed to govern they’ll become more moderate because they’ll find it impossible to keep their campaign promises.” Ignore history at your own peril…

The thing that worries me most about Trump and the fact that he got elected, is that it’s suddenly almost acceptable to be openly racist or anti-gay. This will set the US decades back. I realize many Trump voters are no real racists, but the fact that racism is not a deal breaker for them makes it hard to take them serious. I think very differently about several friends on my Facebook timeline. Many Trump supporters lost a lot of my respect for not being able to think for themselves and for not trying to stop racism, especially if they are traditional Republicans with decent jobs and lives. 

Of course many Trumps voters live lives that are hard to imagine for most Hillary Clinton supporters. They are extremely worried about the future, they live paycheck to paycheck – or worse, have no paycheck or need to work several jobs just to survive. In a way I understand that they would vote for a guy like Trump, just because they feel it can’t get any worse. Hillary would have given them more of the same, at least for Trump there would be a chance for a better life. Unfortunately that won’t happen, and they might be a lot worse off 4 years from now, because Trump can’t stop exponential change in technology. 

What would be needed, but what Trump will not understand, is a universal basic income. If you can’t provide jobs to people, at least provide them with basic financial security. With Trump that will never happen, because he not only has no clue about the lives of his voters, but also because he doesn’t really care for them. He needed their votes, now he is in power and he can focus on things that will benefit him instead of others.

Another thing I am very worried about is that Trump is too ignorant to understand that climate change is real. He likely won’t see the effect of his own policies anymore, but they could be devastating for the world. Every month new temperature records are broken, storms and hurricanes are getting more powerful, but Trump does not want to see it and wants to create more jobs in ‘traditional’ energy. This scares me to death, right now the thing the world needs is someone who would be willing to fight to stop global warming. It may be too late already, but with Trump at the helm for the next 4 or even 8 years we may literally be doomed. 

Silicon Valley may be able to come up with solutions for clean energy that could reverse global warming effects, but the question is how powerful the Bay area will be under Trump’s reign. I would not be surprised if the start-up hubs in Europe (especially Berlin and maybe London if Brexit won’t take place) and China (Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chengdu) will become much more significant over the next 4 years.

There is some talk about California leaving the union, but I don’t see that happening soon. It seems more wishful thinking to distance themselves from Trump. Understandable but not very practical. But then again, Silicon Valley has shown many times that they can pull off things that nobody expected. 

What seems more serious to me is the number of protests that are taking place all over the US. It’s too early to tell whether this is a temporary thing or whether they will grow in size. But with social media this can grow into a real protest movement soon. The Trump voters joke about it on social media and call the protestors whiners who never had a set back in their lives. But they don’t understand that the protestors are not protesting the fact that a Republican won or that Hillary lost. The protestors may not be happy with that, but it would never trigger this kind of protests. They are only protesting the fact that Donald Trump won, simply because he is dangerous and unfit to be president of the USA. 

As we have seen in the Middle East over the past years small protests can quickly lead to mass protests that could lead to civil wars. And that’s why I started this essay with the fact that I am worried about the future and that a civil war is a serious threat. How serious? Nobody knows, but if Trump does not become more presidential over the next days, and if he won’t renounce the racist actions things could get ugly soon. Let’s hope I am very wrong.