One way to increase support for Bitcoin-related startups in North Carolina, says Boost VC CEO Adam Draper, is to get companies in the area that started something on their own.
Draper, the son of famed Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper, founder of the firm that become Draper Fisher Jurvetson, also encourages would-be Bitcoin startups to apply to Boost VC in Silicon Valley, even if they plan to come back to North Carolina.
“You need to get big players who started something involved,” he said. “Silicon Valley has that in droves. Everyone wants to give back.”
It was not always so even in the Silicon Valley, he notes. His grandfather, William Henry Draper III, founded the Draper & Johnson Investment Company in 1962. “He tells the story of walking through the orchards of the Valley looking for anything technology related,” says Draper.
If he found something, “He’d say I’m a venture capitalist. They’d say, ‘What’s that.’ He’d say, ‘We give you money.’ Half his deals happened on a napkin sealed by a handshake. Nowadays it’s much more complicated with so many terms and term sheets.”
Draper’s father, Tim, won the U.S. Marshals Service’s auction of 30,000 seized Bitcoins from the Silk Road marketplace website in July for an undisclosed price.
Currently Boost has invested in 26 Bitcoin companies out of the 65 in its portfolio.
“Companies could come to Boost, get a taste of Silicon Valley and build relationships. They can come back after the three month program and that might spur more investors to jump in here in North Carolina,” Draper said in an interview during the Cryptolina Bitcoin Expo in Raleigh Saturday.
“I see Bitcoin the same way dad saw the Internet,” says Draper. “It’s a similar culture with great excitement and talent flowing into it, but not without doubts around it. Remember back when the Internet was bashed all the time?”
He says his father, who made the first institutional investment in a Bitcoin company three years ago, gives him credit, saying “my son got it, I was interested in it.”
Peer-to-peer technology, the decentralized technology that powers the Bitcoin protocol (as well as such things as the SETI hunt for extraterrestrial life and other science projects distributing their calculations over armies of computers) is always valuable, says Draper.
“No one talks about peer-to-peer as much anymore, but it’s making a comeback because of peer-to-peer lending.”
What attracts Draper to the Bitcoin world is that like the Internet, it “knocks out the middle-man; that’s the one constant of technology innovation the last 25 years.”
Draper says he wants to find the Netscape or Kickstarter of Bitcoin – the game-changer that takes it to a mass audience. “I don’t know what that is yet,” he admits, but says once that happens “It will spur tons of other innovation.”