In 2017, he flew high with TenX and collected around $80M from an ICO with his startup. The Tyrolean Julian Hosp (32) was the face of TenX – but the high flight was followed by a hard landing. The crash of the crypto markets did not pass the hyped crypto startup. The price of its PAY token crashed (like all other crypto assets on the market), and the credit cards that were promised to the users could not be delivered.
Meanwhile Hosp, a medical graduate and professional kite surfer, became one of the most famous faces of the European blockchain industry. He was visible everywhere – as a conference keynote speaker, as an expert in blogs and YouTube videos, he even wrote a book about Blockchain that made it to the hands of Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk. Meanwhile, the former TenX president had forgotten to mention some parts of his professional past: prior to TenX, Hosp was part of the controversial Shopping club Lyoness in Asia. Lyoness was repeatedly called a snowball system and was banned in Norway as illegal Ponzi scheme.
Accused of insider trading
When Hosp left the hyped company due to disagreements with the other TenX founders, the excitement and curiosity of audience and community grew – not least, because Hosp sold a considerable amount of his own PAY tokens right before the announcement. Critics accused him of insider trading, and he had to face an internet shitstorm. Scam and fraud were among the accusations in social media.
After few weeks of silence, Hosp, who lives in Singapore, has now decided to speak. In an interview with Trending Topics, he comments for the first time on the accusations and explains his point of view.
Trending Topics: A lot has happened recently. What’s new?
Julian Hosp: I resigned surprisingly from TenX at the beginning of the year. It was unforeseeable and a shock for me. I had to find my way back in the last two weeks. I definitely want to stay in Singapore, I want to continue doing something in the blockchain area, and if I can, my dream would be to combine the medicine I studied with blockchain. Austria is a leader in MedTech and maybe this could pull me back. I haven’t made my mind yet, so I’ll look at some medical conferences and see what’s possible.
How did the TenX exit happen? You say it came as a surprise to you.
I agreed with the co-founders that we wouldn’t talk about details. Both the company and I should focus on the future. It turned out that the co-founders’ visions and mine were too far apart. I wasn’t so aware last year that my co-founders saw it differently. There was a clarifying conversation when I came back to Singapore. There wasn’t much opportunity left.
How did these visions differ?
I am someone who likes to think big, who likes to push forward quickly, who likes to try out big things. I think that didn’t suit my co-founders so well, they’d rather put one step ahead of the other, don’t make any mistakes, maybe miss chances, and have more security.
TenX has profited from the hype about crypto currencies. But then came the crash, the promised credit cards could not be delivered to the ICO investors. Why?
Several factors affected that. A year ago, we worked with a partner who lost his Visa license. We couldn’t influence that. We then also relied on partners who did not work at our speed. I don’t know if I would have done much differently. In retrospect, I probably should have communicated less to the outside world about what we expected.
From the very beginning, the idea was that users would be able to pay in shops with credit cards using crypto currencies. That never came true. Is there any chance left for this or is the idea dead?
I can’t answer for TenX now. I don’t know what my (former) co-founders are up to, what their priorities are. The support for Germany has been kept to a minimum and the focus is certainly going in a different direction. I am still a shareholder of the company, but I am no longer on board and I am no longer employed.
There are accusations that you sold and benefited from PAY tokens a few days before your resignation as president of the company and after the announcement, the share price continued to fall. What do you think about these accusations?
I know the Reddit thread to it, but it is unfortunately wrong. In fact, like every year I sold part of my crypto currency at the end of the year to be able to pay my income taxes in Singapore. I get tokens as income, so I have to sell part of it. I sold part of my tokens on December 31t, the day after the snapshot. That’s not strategic at all. I didn’t know at the time that I would be resigning as President a week later. That’s definitely not Insider trading. The Reddit thread is unfortunately relatively wrong and poorly analyzed. My mistake was that I didn’t react immediately, but I was lying there in self-pity for a week. I should not have done that.
If the TenX PAY token was rated as a security token in Singapore, would you have been guilty of insider trading retroactively?
Definitely not. Firstly, I never had inside information at any time, and secondly, it has nothing to do with the PAY token. The PAY token is a utility token.
Some crypto startups, TenX and even you are sometimes accused of being pyramid schemes. What is behind it? At the end of the day, it often seems that only a few people profit, while the mass, also the investors in TenX, are left with nothing.
In fact, this needs deeper understanding. Until the snapshot, I always offered people the opportunity to withdraw the money they had invested in the ICO. But nobody has ever done that. Why? Because the token was always better on the road than Ethereum. And the only thing you could invest with in TenX was Ethereum. When people complain, they should go to Ethereum because they probably bought it with Euros. For me that is pointing the finger, not taking responsibility for own decisions.
You sound as if you were the expelled one. Do you feel betrayed?
Not necessarily. There is always a loud, screaming minority trying to find a scapegoat for their own mistakes. I am this scapegoat now for 2018. If the crypto market had been different in 2018, then it would have been different. I can live with it. I have always been a borderline personality. Even then, when I was a kite surfer and studied medicine on the side, people didn’t believe me. It took until the doctorate for people to believe that I was really studying.
I remember standing on stage in Vienna with Harald Mahrer in 2017 and saying: People listen, it’s all-time high, I’m selling 20 percent. There was a lot of screaming. “Julian, you Judas, you cheating the crypto community so much, that’s absolutely not ok!” Well, what happened three months later? People regretted for not listening to me. It’s a condition between greed and fear, and people then blame it on the ones they think have more than they have. I am someone who deals openly with things. I am not afraid of it.
You are also criticized for not mentioning your past with Lyoness. Why has this disappeared from your CV?
That was never a CV. The fact is this: I was in network marketing, but I was involved in 15 different things. That was the time, between 2012 and 2014, when I wanted to reinvent myself as an entrepreneur and tried everything. That was network marketing, real estate, stocks, affiliate marketing, I even tried a franchise. Network marketing is a small fraction of it. A publication said that this was my main occupation and faked my CV, then took it offline again and then claimed I put it down. That’s a lie, that’s not true. I don’t have a CV and I’ve never erased or hidden anything. That’s just a piece of my life and it wasn’t the smartest decision to get involved in network marketing. Would I do it again? Probably yes, because I learned a lot from it. I wrote two stories about it in my book. If I have ever wanted to hide it, I would never have done it that way.
The fact is, however, that you worked for Lyoness.
Yes, that’s a fact, I never denied it either. I’ve never denied it and never tried to hide it, it’s just not something I immediately start a conversation with. I also don’t tell you about 15 other things I did, because they are not relevant right now. We can talk about real estate and thousands of other things.
You call yourself a TenX co-founder. There are also accusations that you were not part of the founding team, but joined it later. What’s the real story?
That can be proven. It was 2015, we were in Singapore and we made a pitch. At that time, the company was called OneBit. I was even the one who pitched. It’s true that I was not in Singapore for one year, and I didn’t see any potential in crypto currencies. I don’t have a financial background, I actually wanted to go into medicine. But I didn’t have the chance to develop a startup there, so I decided to go to Singapore in 2016 and I was there full time with TenX from that moment on. I was there from the beginning and I am co-founder. I can prove that.
How have you profited from the crypto hype?
Most people wouldn’t believe that my benefit from TenX is shockingly small. For me, TenX would only become really lucrative, if I would get something for my shares. My greatest merit was that in 2015 I made almost €100K from selling a property and put it into crypto currencies. I made 100 times that amount out of the €100K, which was a double-digit million amount last year. I sold 20% of it, and the rest I still hold in crypto. Of course, this has now shrunk quite a bit, by minus 80% last year. I still believe in crypto in the long run.
Your book on cryptocurrencies made it to Elon Musk’s hands at the SXSW conference in 2018. It seemed to me that you were working more on your own brand and less on TenX. How do you see this?
On the contrary. I tried to build the Cryptofit brand – as an entry point for people to understand crypto currencies. That was incredibly important in 2017. There was some criticism on Amazon that it was a pure sales book for TenX. That’s the opposite. These are people who don’t appreciate my success, who are envious, who know that the whole branding was done really well. People get all the free content and just learn about TenX, that is incredibly effective branding and marketing. This traditional marketing that most companies do, the pay-per-click, simply doesn’t work. People want content, they want to learn something, and in the crypto area, there are very few people who do that. If I had really only promoted the Julian Hosp or Cryptofit brand, the whole counter-criticism wouldn’t have been that TenX is always in the background. The truth is right in the middle. Of course, I tried to build Cryptofit, but it was also very good marketing for TenX.
You call yourself a blockchain expert. How would you define yourself – are you an entrepreneur, an influencer or a book author?
I’m certainly not an influencer. For me it’s just a side effect. I’m actually introvert, someone who spends time with me notices that relatively quickly. I learned that while kitesurfing. A sponsor came to me and said, “If you don’t build up more audience, we have to fire you.” I said, “Why, I am one of the best?” They said, “We don’t care, it’s important that you sell kites, that’s all that matters.” This made me rethink my appearance.
When I’m working on something but nobody knows it, it’s relatively worthless. I see myself as an entrepreneur, that’s what drives me. In the two and a half weeks after TenX, I was looking for myself. I can now see how it’s starting to work inside me again.
I’m interested in solving new problems. I see myself as not employable. I’ve been contacted by so many companies that were offering very appealing salaries, but I could never do that, even if I made a million a year. That wouldn’t fulfill me at all. The money doesn’t motivate me, I care about something else. Entrepreneur, yes. Blockchain expert, yes, that has crystallized in recent years, because I see blockchain as the next step after the Internet.
Do you see the chance to start a company again? Your reputation is tarnished. Is it about restoring it, also in this interview?
Not necessarily. I don’t know if my reputation is tarnished now. Two weeks ago, after the whole shitstorm had started, I had a conversation with a musician in the German-speaking world who everyone knows. He said to me, “Your task now is not to convince people who are against you anyway. Your task is to move forward and continue, because the people who support you, they want that from you.” I don’t feel the need to improve my reputation at all. People come back anyway and want my stuff because I’m one of the few people in the German-speaking world who explains things clearly without scam, who gives people all the knowledge for free, who researches it in detail. Someone who delivers value, that’s what people ultimately want. I’m not worried about that at all.
As an expert, you contributed to the crypto hype. What would you say to those people who invested in crypto before and during the hype, and have experienced significant losses?
I had exactly the same challenges in 2015. It’s all repeated over the four-year cycle. I think it goes back and forth all year. 2019 will be even more difficult than 2018, and the reason is: we have no direction this year, it’s going up, it’s going down. That’s what I expect, based on what we saw four years ago. Four years ago, it was exactly the same, it made me bleed, it was so bad. At that time, Bitcoin’s pendulum movement was between 400 and 800, and I assume that Bitcoin now oscillates between 3,000 and 8,000. Bitcoin goes down, people roar, everyone sells, then Bitcoin goes up to 5,000, then people are afraid they’ll miss the hype, get back in. What happens? Bitcoin goes up to 5,500, and then crashes down again. This is going to be pretty painful now. I would advise people who don’t want to do this to themselves to just not put themselves in the situation. They should understand that hopefully this is a long-term investment and hopefully they have invested less than they can lose.