Picking The Monkey – The Monkey Capital ICO Story (Part 2)
The Monkey Capital ICO was first launched on July 1, 2017. It was the website CoinSchedule.com that got it so omniscient. CoinSchedule.com is managed by a pair of crypto guys, Alex and Maj. Alex is an entrepreneur from Brazil while Maj is a British-born Indian programmer who coded the site. Alex was in close with the Waves crowd; Maj was a coder who lived in the south of Spain before moving back to London (once the ICO boom set in and CoinSchedule’s demands took over).
Both were nice guys, and if anyone is at fault in the relationship that later soured, it was myself. We agreed that for a nominal listing fee and a percentage of the funds raised that CoinSchedule would feature the Monkey Capital ICO prominently on the front page of the website somewhere. What they actually did went far beyond the call of duty: Maj, accompanied by a team of coders, completely designed the website from scratch and even picked a logo – the now infamous Monkey looking out over the horizon, centred in a ring which is its tail.
It would fascinate me immensely in later months to hear of how people had seen that logo and felt an “instinctive calling” towards the Monkey were just somehow compelled to check out the prospective ICO. It taught me a rule of marketing – optics are everything. To think that the thing that most drew in customers was a last-minute add-on which wasn’t even anything to do with either myself or any of the management team I then assembled drove home to me the importance of optics. To this date, I don’t think we have had anyone as talented as Maj on our team, and, when the time came, his leaving us was an enormous blow. He offered to stay on freelance when the relationship between Alex and I soured to such an extent as to become non-cooperable. Not keeping him on was the most expensive mistake we made, I think in retrospect. The subsequent success of CoinSchedule is at least as much his as it is Alex’s, who is the majority shareholder.
After having laboured day and night for about a week to perfect presentation, CoinSchedule made a new Platinum listing section which would feature their premium ICOs. At that time there was just gold, silver and bronze. What was born that fateful day that Monkey was launched was not just the project that would carry me through my entire next year and culminate in a baseless civil litigation and consequent rumour mill of trolling in every incarnation of the venture I struggled to complete since the first attempt (and did ultimately complete). For Alex and Maj, the year turned rather more in their favour, into the flourishing of multi-millions of dollars of revenue.
Indeed, at first the relationship was close and even, potentially expansive. We talked about myself working with them to expand the remit of CoinSchedule and drive out other potential ICOs; I encouraged them to aggressively raise prices as I said that what they were currently charging was nowhere near the sort of value they could be getting for the service they offered.
I sometimes think how ironic it is that had I instead gone on to market many hundreds of ICOs back then instead of persisting with Monkey to make good on our initial investors (most of whom walked away with a loot as it is), I’d have ended the year millions in the green as opposed to in the red. Still, Alex and Maj worked damn hard for their money, and were justifiably deserving blockchain success stories. To this day, I do not hold a single grudge over our very separate fates during 2017, despite having shouldered all of the criticism for submitting to activities that not only I did not submit to, but that were in actual fact not legally or practically, anything to do with me in the first place.
The combination worked so well at CoinSchedule because of the completely different personalities and skills of the pair. Maj, who was more affable and outgoing, was a bit of a cloaked marketing genius as much as he was a software developer: he had the eye that could spot that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and could translate it into visuals like no other front-end coder I have ever worked with. Alex had an understanding of the crypto scene that was every bit as deep and complex as he himself was. He was the one who picked DMH&CO out the long list of 20-something prospective pitches the guys received every day, and it was him who really spearheaded the marketing effort of the ICO, pouring time, attention and valuable resources at his disposal into the venture. In this way, it is him I have to thank for much of the Monkey Capital success that followed. But like most marketing geniuses, he was also paranoid (mostly about scams) and there was something about his overall disposition that was off-putting. Temperamental, introverted and sensitive to the slightest form of criticism, he would become harder to work with as time passed. “I was sure you were a scam the other night,” he told me on our third call together, having just piled in tech resources to develop our website. “And then I realised you weren’t at all, and I was relieved.”
“Why did you pick us for your listings site if you thought I was a scam?” I enquired.
“I didn’t back then. But then I did the other night. But now I know you are not a scam again.”
“What changed your mind?”
“You are too public a figure to be a scam. Scammers don’t use their real names,” he told me. Alex also had one of the most intuitive sixth senses for the zeitgeist of the crypto market as anyone I have ever come across. “You will be called a scam no matter what if you do this. Some people will call you a scam, and for a long time. You have to keep going, showing them you are not a scam. This is vital,” he told me on another of our late-night Skype sessions. That would turn out to be advice that was eerily precise.
I never found out how Waves and CoinSchedule were related, but it was via Alex, who was connected to the project through having assisted on its own ICO some two years earlier. Since then, CoinSchedule and Waves had formed a mighty bond. Waves presented CoinSchedule as the go-to destination for undertaking ICOs; indeed, that is how I had come across them in the first place, when playing around on the decentralised platform some two months earlier. This was a happy enough coincidence as it turned out, since on June 21 I had created two assets; Coeval (COE) with a supply of 100,000 and at its other end Monkey (MNY) with a 1 billion supply. Initially, the venture was to be called DMH&CO, and be a sort of spin-off of the Family Office I had established the previous two years ago, in Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok, Thailand.
Alex and Maj however felt the DMH&CO brand, while solid, wasn’t compelling enough for the ICO market. About a year earlier I had established a company called Monkey Capital with another tech entrepreneur, Marcello Garcia-Casil, who now runs the VC-supported Blockchain art venture Maecenas and back then ran a company called DX Markets.
Both Marcello and I took a 50% shareholding of the venture each (which we both still hold to this day) and said we’d put some Blockchain project into it at some point in the future, leaving another paid director in Singapore to manage the company.
These points were glossed over in the lawsuit later, which accused me of running a “shell game” where personal cashflows were put into and taken out of companies which were used as my personal piggy bank. Nothing could have been further from the truth: we capitalised Monkey Capital Pte. Ltd. and thought nothing more of it.
The mention of Monkey Capital as an ICO name only got brought up as Alex and Maj mulled other potential names for the venture, one of which was Coeval Capital, my preferred choice as a result of the concept of the Value Coeval which I had formulated some years ago in 2015 on a series of talks about Blockchain I gave around the Asia Pacific.
Monkey Capital, I suggested to them, was the sort of name that might appeal to ICO-ers. The two were instantly enthusiastic, and before 10 minutes was out, Monkey Capital the ICO was to be called. The fact that Monkey Capital jived with MNY, the token which was to be offered to market, was even better.
Immediately after the name was chosen for the MNY ICO I phoned Marcello. “We are going to call it Monkey Capital,” I said.
“What does that mean for the company?” asked Marcello distractedly. It had been a while since we had spoken about the venture that by then had sort of progressively done increasing amounts of nothing.
“Well, I guess that means Monkey is going to benefit – if only by virtue of owning the Trademark to the name,” I replied.
“Does the company even own a Trademark? It’s pretty dormant.”
“We can get one,” I replied, flippantly.
“Well, it sounds like a big ICO at least! Good Luck!”
And with that, we set in motion the marketing schedule for what would become the biggest ICO that never actually took place.
This story is the second part in a series of recollections of the 2017 Monkey Capital ICO, written by Daniel Mark Harrison, Chairman & CEO of DMH&CO. The first instalment was published in Data Driven Investor.