Last week, I spoke with the cofounder of one of the largest cryptocurrency data aggregators, CoinGecko. The company has been operating since 2014, which is quite a long period for the field. This means I had the chance to dive deeper into the early days of the blockchain industry. Don’t miss this piece!
U.Today: Hi Bobby, thank you for taking the time out for this interview! The last few weeks have been crazy for the crypto market. What’s your opinion on the recent price movements?
Bobby Ong: I think we are currently on a big bull run, and 2021 will be a very interesting year as more institutions start to take notice and play an active role in the development of cryptocurrencies.
U.Today: CoinGecko is a dinosaur of the crypto space; I mean this in a good sense. The site is more than six years old, right? What are some of the most memorable experiences in these six years? What about the toughest moments?
Bobby Ong: CoinGecko was started in April 2014 with my partner, TM Lee. We started CoinGecko because we saw the huge potential in cryptocurrencies and knew that it will be mainstream one day. We wanted to play an active role in the development of this industry and feel that we have the skills needed to grow this industry.
Bobby Ong. Image provided by CoinGecko
Initially, CoinGecko was just a side project for both of us as the industry was really small back then. The bear market of 2015 and 2016 was especially tough since many people lost faith and left the industry. Many crypto companies struggled and shut down operations as it was very hard to make any money. We were quite close to giving up as well.
The most memorable experience for us was seeing the crypto community accept CoinGecko as the preferred data aggregator of choice this year and quoting the metrics that we have on the website, such as price, market cap, fully diluted valuation and so on. It shows that the industry appreciates the work that we do and is using CoinGecko as an important data point in decision-making.
U.Today: By the way, I’ve always been curious: why did you choose a gecko as your logo?
Bobby Ong: Back in 2014 when we started, crypto was a very serious industry without many fun memes. We wanted a way to show that crypto companies can be fun while still doing a good job. We thought that a cute mascot would be a good way to represent our company to impart this fun element into it. We searched for a suitable mascot and eventually settled on a gecko.
U.Today: This year, Binance acquired CoinMarketCap. What are your thoughts on the acquisition? Did you start to gain more traffic after that happened?
Bobby Ong: Yes, our market share started growing after the Binance-CoinMarketCap acquisition. The crypto community viewed this acquisition very negatively as crypto data aggregators are supposed to be independent.
With the acquisition, CoinMarketCap is no longer an independent entity. Although Binance’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, said that CoinMarketCap will remain independent, the actions by CoinMarketCap showed that there is a lot of meddling by Binance.
U.Today: Has this event (the Binance acquisition) changed anything on the market?
Bobby Ong: After the acquisition, CoinMarketCap can no longer be seen as independent and impartial. The platform has been taken over to become another place for Binance to promote its services.
Immediately after the acquisition, Binance was ranked as the best exchange, and BNB was even listed as the top DeFi token despite the fact that BNB is clearly an exchange token. The crypto community does not appreciate this bias and started searching for alternatives. Most people in crypto use CoinGecko these days because we are an independent, impartial and reliable source of data.
The team. Image provided by CoinGecko
U.Today: How do you rank exchanges? Are your algorithms different from other ranking sites?
Bobby Ong: CoinGecko is the first crypto data aggregator to provide a solution to the rampant wash trading and fake volume issue on centralized exchanges. We introduced Trust Score in May 2019 and, instead of ranking exchanges only by trading volume, we now look at multiple data points to give a more comprehensive overview of exchanges.
With Trust Score, we not only make use of exchanges’ trading volume but also make use of exchanges’ orderbook depth, bid/ask spread, web traffic estimate, API quality, team presence and past incidents to give a score to each exchange. Using Trust Score, users on CoinGecko now have a better experience navigating the website, as higher-quality exchanges are sorted at the top rather than exchanges with massive wash trading.
U.Today: What is your opinion on DEX exchanges?
Bobby Ong: Decentralized exchanges have grown significantly over the past year, and I am relatively surprised that its volume can now match centralized exchanges. Ask me one year ago and I would say that it would be hard to imagine that Uniswap would be doing as much volume as Coinbase this year.
AMM-based DEXes are an innovation as they have provided a way for price to be discovered for low-liquidity tokens. This allows for a market for these tokens to be easily bootstrapped and is a net gain for the crypto market.
U.Today: Do you have a crypto portfolio? Which coins do you keep there?
Bobby Ong: Bitcoin, Ethereum and DeFi tokens.
U.Today: What about your future plans? What should we expect from CoinGecko in the future?
Bobby Ong: Here at CoinGecko, we foresee a future where anything that can be tokenized, will be tokenized. As a result, there will be millions of tokens in the future. We are building the foundation and infrastructure needed to serve this future. Crypto will continue to grow and continue to innovate with many different products being created. You can be sure that we will be following these developments and tracking these new data points in the future!
U.Today: Bobby, thank you for your time. It was a pleasure to speak with you.