Halsey Minor has seen it all. He made millions founding tech legends like CNET.com and investing in Salesforce.com in the 1990s.
He then withdrew from the world plagued by a severe bout of depression which took him six years to overcome. He ended up losing his fortune when he declared bankruptcy in 2013.
Because of his experiences with banks during his half a decade of suffering, he decided to change the consumer experience of money for good and started his new venture Uphold (formerly Bitreserve).
In this exclusive and in-depth interview, Halsey Minor told Epoch Times how and why he innovates, and why Bitcoin likely won’t become the dominating currency of the world [Bitcoin: Page 2].
Epoch Times: Why do you Innovate?
Halsey Minor: I don’t innovate because I want to, I do it because I have to. I’m always seeing things and trying out how to fix them. I’m literally compelled to do it. The internet coming along was magical. This thing that comes along that remakes every single industry.
I become transfixed by something and just constantly try to figure out how you can use technology. I understand technology deeply and I think I have a pretty good grasp of consumer behavior, so I try to put those two things together.
Literally my whole life is about innovating. That’s what makes me happy, it’s what energizes me. It gets me up in the morning. It makes me a happy person to talk to my wife.
It’s really the problem that gets me transfixed and then gets me thinking nonstop, walking around the house absent-minded, and my wife knows that I’m onto something.
She knows not to talk to me. I think that’s what you need to be able to build things that ultimately serve a lot of needs and generally make things better for people.
You have to become really, myopically focused on specifically what it is that you’re doing for people and you need to do it in a way, you need to implement a way that’s easy to accept and integrate into your life.
Epoch Times: How do you, as an entrepreneur, see whether something has the potential to be very disruptive?
Mr. Minor: It all starts by having a basic understanding of what a problem is. I started what is now Google Voice because for six years I was going back and forth between L.A. and San Francisco every other week.
Nobody could reach me. I got two guys out of Yahoo! and I gave them some money in my office. I said build a service that no matter what phone I have, it rings. One number for life, follows me everywhere.
Oh and when somebody leaves a message I don’t want to check my messages I want it automatically transcribed and texted or emailed to me. So we developed it and Google bought it 13 months later [for $50+ million].
Epoch Times: Tell us more about the internet, the place where your inventions CNET and Salesforce were very successful.
Mr. Minor: I have a fundamental belief that no bad product has ever succeeded on the internet and no good product has ever failed.
Everybody just types in a few letters. There’s no distribution guy you have to go through, you don’t have to pay somebody to put you on the shelf at a certain place.
It’s a very democratic kind of market place. What I like about the internet is that you do something great, people can find you and they can take advantage of it. I always start with the fact that you need to have a world-class product that does something valuable.
If you can get a lot of people to come and use something, generally it’s been proven, that you can build something valuable.
I usually start with a business model different from entrepreneurs and a lot of the companies that I’ve started have gone on to be very large, very profitable, and served a lot of users.
In my head I had a concept for how we would be able to build a sustaining business and still be able to take away all of the fees.
Epoch Times: During the last financial crisis, you identified a problem with the banking system…
Mr. Minor: I really build things out of personal experience. They’re things that I love and I care about. Coming out of the crisis in 2008 and seeing when the entire banking system goes bankrupt.
You have to realize; when it keeps happening there’s a fundamental flaw there. A lot of people want to blame bankers. It keeps happening over and over again no matter who is at these banks.
You have to understand that something is not right there. The tech industry doesn’t blow up the world, the automotive industry doesn’t blow up the world, but the banking industry keeps, through history, causing massive panic and dislocation.
Hopefully by the time I’m done now, we’ll be taking hundreds of billions of dollars of [banking] fees away from consumers around the world, giving them more direct access to their money.
What would be fantastic if we got a much safer system that doesn’t have the same problems that all the banks had in 2008.