In a month from now I’ll be launching Digitex 2.0. You’ll find out more from me over the coming weeks about what Digitex 2.0 is and how I plan to buy back and burn all the recently minted DGTX tokens.
In the meantime, the clucking from the Telegram echo chamber about me being a master criminal running a 4+ years-in-the-making exit scam has gotten particularly loud recently. And as much as I enjoy the notoriety, I’d like to take this opportunity to set the record straight. I will describe my Digitex journey so far, warts and all, but more importantly I’ll tell you my plans to revive Digitex and bring it roaring back onto the first page of cmc in a blaze of glory.
You can decide for yourself whether I’m a small-time scammer trying to steal a few million dollars from people who trusted me, or whether I’m an entrepreneur with a burning desire to become a billionaire and the determination to succeed at any cost.
My Digitex story starts in 2017. By this time I had become obsessed with cryptocurrency and its mindblowing potential for bringing chaos and disruption to the status quo, and I started having all kinds of product and token ideas. The most exciting thing about crypto was this new concept called the ICO where anyone with an idea could bypass the difficult and rigorous VC route of raising funds and present the idea directly to the public without being shaken down by the banks or regulators or anyone else in the old boys club. I had loads of ideas but eventually decided to build a Bitcoin futures exchange that charged zero transaction fees and which covered costs by minting and selling its own native token. Mum and I came up with the name Digitex.
I had been a scalper for a few years in the open outcry futures trading pits of the London International Financial Futures Exchange (LIFFE) in the nineties and trading commissions had been the difference between making a fortune and struggling to survive. So the idea of being able to build my own exchange that had zero transaction fees was beyond exciting. I envisioned creating a trading platform with millions of participants and with massive liquidity where retail traders could make a living from trading like I used to. With Bitcoin futures becoming a hot topic in the media, Digitex seemed to be the right product at the right time.
I had a great time trading manually against my own bots on the one-click trading ladder. I could do as many short term trades as I wanted without paying any commissions. All other cryptocurrency futures exchanges were charging commissions in the form of a small percentage of every trade, which made short term crypto scalping unprofitable. But the volatile and always open crypto markets are perfect for scalping, so Digitex was going to open up a whole new world of trading opportunities for millions of traders around the world.
That dream of Digitex becoming a level playing field exchange where there was no edge working against its traders was a very real one. That’s what drove me forwards because I truly believed that Digitex could have millions of users. And I understood more than most just how liberating it is to be able to make a living by spending a few hours a day trading from anywhere in the world.
During a 6 year long backpacking journey around the world I discovered the betting exchange Betfair.com in 2002. To me it looked exactly like the futures markets, but instead of buying and selling futures contracts I was laying and backing bets. I deposited $300 and started trading UK horse racing odds in the final 10 minutes before the race starts. Without any knowledge of horse racing and without caring which horse eventually won each race, I would make money on 9 races out of 10 and once went 8 months of full time trading without a losing day. Working out of internet cafes and Starbucks for a few hours a day in random parts of the world I would sometimes do 10% of the entire betting volume on a televised UK horse race. So I understand how liberating it is to be able to make a living from spending a few hours a day trading, and I liked that Digitex would give thousands of traders the opportunity to live like I did.
After I had built my prototype exchange I started to write the Digitex whitepaper which explained the concept of a zero-fee futures exchange that generates revenue by minting and selling DGTX tokens instead of charging commissions on trades. It explained that the trick to making it work was to create enough demand for DGTX that it offsets the effects of the minting. That’s the part we have failed to do – so far. My plan to finally create that demand is underway right now and almost at fruition – but more on that later.
Then I created a WordPress website for Digitex and set a date for the Digitex ICO. I think the original ICO date was in October 2017. But with about a week to go before the date and absolutely no interest from anyone and with my token sale smart contract in a big mess I quietly took that countdown page down and went back to the drawing board.
After another similar false start in December, an affiliate marketing friend of mine told me that I needed to make the ICO go viral by rewarding people who shared the link with their friends. So I set the ICO date for January 15th 2018, and created a mechanism on the website that gave away 1,000 DGTX tokens for every friend that someone referred to join our Digitex ICO waiting list. The ICO price of DGTX was going to be $0.01 so that was like getting $10 for every email you referred to our list.
After a slow start the emails started to trickle in at the start of January. Then the trickle became more of a stream and then we got discovered by the Nigerian spamming community and shit got absolutely crazy. Links to the upcoming Digitex ICO appeared just about everywhere – no Telegram or Facebook group was safe, and in the final days leading up to the ICO we were getting thousands of email signups per hour. By the morning of January 15th, our waitlist reached 250,000 emails, from a standing start of zero a few weeks earlier.
At 9am EST on January 15th 2018 I nervously revealed the token sale smart contract address on our website and the Digitex ICO began. The website had been under intense Ddos attacks for days and there was a hardcore of eastern European hackers trying to hack the website so that at the start time of the ICO they could replace the token sale smart contract address with their own Ethereum wallet address. Fortunately our security held up and they failed to get anywhere.
I had been up since 3am deploying the token sale smart contract and taking care of final details and as the seconds counted down to 9am I remember thinking that I had put absolutely everything I had into this one moment. I had worked on this full time for the past 6 months and spent every penny I had on getting to this point. The entire adventure of getting to this point had cost over $100k and I was literally flat broke, I didn’t even have the rent money due in 2 weeks time. This had to work, please please please just let us hit the soft cap so that it’s not a complete flop.
I had the token sale etherscan page open and at 9am EST I started refreshing the page, desperately hoping that this wouldn’t be too much of an embarrassing disaster. Turns out I didn’t have to worry. Every time I refreshed the page, thousands of dollars worth of Ether would show up in my wallet. For a moment I thought I might be reading it wrong because some refreshes would show hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the last refresh a few seconds ago. Wait, is that one million dollars worth of Ether collected in the last few minutes? Two million after a few more minutes. Three million. Four million. Wait, is this correct, am I looking at the right number here? After 17 heady minutes I was staring at an etherscan page with $5,400,000 worth of Ether just sitting in my wallet and all 650 million DGTX tokens that were for sale had gone.
So there I was, sitting in my little apartment at 9.20am on a Monday morning with over five million dollars in my wallet. Erm, what now? In a kind of dazed shock, I unplugged my computer and went for a skate to try and process what the hell had just happened. Barefoot and shirtless I skated around Miami Beach for hours at full speed, doing handstands on my board and laughing like a madman. I think that skate was one of the happiest moments of my life.
That a gambling man like myself whose never even had a real job, and who has no experience of developing a complex software product or recruiting and managing a team, managed to get into a position of raising millions of dollars to fund a tech startup is a function of those unusual times. Digitex Ltd was literally a one month old Seychelles company bought online for $400 from an offshore company formation website. With no team, no infrastructure, no business plan, no processes, no governance, no experience and just no idea, Digitex was fully funded and in the futures exchange business. What could possibly go wrong?
The day after the Digitex ICO the crypto market crashed. Literally, the next fucking day. Without a honeymoon period to think and figure out exactly what to do, my $5.4m was now $4m and it got gradually worse from there. No, I had not converted the ETH made in the ICO into Tether. I had just experienced an insane year where Ether went from $10 to $1400, and everytime I sold some of my ETH stash to cover costs then the price of ETH would go up and my stash would be worth the same amount of money or more, even after spending what I’d taken out. It was this meteoric rise in 2017 that gave me the time and the $100k I needed to do the ICO, so as far as I was concerned my strategy of holding ETH was already a proven one that had yielded millions. I was holding onto this ICO Ether until it reached $10000 and then I would cash out with $30m instead of $5m.
In hindsight that was a terrible decision – my first of many. I never dreamed that ETH could crash so badly and that the crypto winter would be quite so brutal. I stuck with my position waiting for the turnaround but it didn’t come – in 2018 Ether lost 95% of its value. I had been selling some ETH on the way down to pay development costs and wages each month but the majority of the ICO raise disappeared in that vicious crypto winter that followed. As fast as the money had appeared, it disappeared.
That’s why 92% of the ICOs from that same period didn’t make it. A few of them were scams but I bet most of them were not. Most ICOs were probably a genuine effort by someone who had no idea how to effectively execute on their idea. And then when the crypto market crashed it wiped them out.
So how did Digitex survive the crypto winter when so many others perished?
Halfway through 2018 I fired the entire marketing team and hired Lidia Yadlos as CMO. At this point the DGTX token was at half a cent and 6 months after the ICO all the excitement around the project was waning. We were still in the relatively early stages of developing the Digitex exchange and up until that point our marketing had sucked, so there was little interest in the DGTX token. The crypto winter had set in properly and ICO projects were dropping like flies and nobody wanted to buy tokens. We were also chronically underfunded after keeping the ICO funds in ETH and I realized that our only chance of survival was to make the DGTX token pop so that we could sell tokens to generate revenue.
We needed to do something. We needed to breathe life into Digitex. I wasn’t just going to give up like all the failed ICO projects did. I would do whatever it took to make this work and not just lose all the money that people had trusted me with. I had promised to build a zero-fee cryptocurrency futures exchange and that’s what I was going to do. Development was in full swing and if we could just launch the product everything would be fine. We had to figure out how to make money from selling DGTX tokens, otherwise everything would stop and the DGTX token price would go to zero.
So we created a viral marketing campaign that rewarded DGTX to people who joined our launch waitlist. The first few weeks of this waitlist campaign started quietly and the number of emails slowly started to climb. And then one of the big Indian crypto influencers found it and made a video about our waitlist campaign and that’s when it all went batshit crazy. The waitlist ended up reaching 1.5 million emails collected. Suddenly our social media channels blew up and Digitex was the center of attention.
In the midst of this viral marketing campaign we started publishing daily content on our blog about how Bitcoin futures trading was going to be the next biggest thing, and with zero fees Digitex was going to be a game changer for millions of traders. We were relentless. We paid to be interviewed, we paid to publish articles and press releases on other websites and we paid for traffic. Combined with an ever swelling waitlist, this barrage of content promoting zero-fee futures trading caused huge interest in the project and the DGTX token price popped.
In October 2018, the DGTX price reached an all time high of $0.16, from an ICO price of $0.01, giving it a market cap of $160 million. When coupled with the big drop in ETH, ICO holders were sitting on 100x returns. Suddenly everyone was interested in zero-fee Bitcoin futures trading, creating a surge in demand for DGTX which we could sell into. We breathed life into DGTX by systematically generating traffic and creating content funnels.
The waitlist viral marketing campaign saved Digitex and allowed us to continue developing the product. But when we failed to launch in December 2018 the DGTX price collapsed.
Up until this point I had been pretty popular with the Digitex community. Before the failed launch the ICO holders were 10x at a time when ETH and BTC had crashed so against ETH they were more like 100x on their original ETH investment. But the failed launch unsurprisingly upset a bunch of people and this was when the accusations of Digitex being a scam started. The accusation was that we were never actually developing anything and the whole thing was a ruse to sell tokens.
Digitex survived the crypto winter that killed off so many other projects because of my determination and unwillingness to quit when there seemed to be no other viable path forwards. The only reason that Digitex is still going after over 4 years is because on this occasion and on multiple occasions since then I gambled everything and figured out how to get the money we need to continue, without ever considering quitting.
And yet my persistence and dogged refusal to quit is turned against me and presented as proof that I’m some kind of scammer who didn’t have the decency to quit like everyone else did. All those other leaders of hundreds of failed ICO projects whose token price went to zero aren’t being constantly accused of being scammers because they just quit and everyone has forgotten about them. They gave up and took the remaining ICO money for themselves and ended up just fine. But because I stuck around and gambled everything and spent the last penny and figured out a way forward and actually went on to create a product and launch it and market it, that somehow makes me a scammer. Fuck that, and if you think I’m a scammer then fuck you too.
But the fact is we did fail to launch in December 2018. How did we fuck up the development of Digitex so badly that after a year we were at square one? It was a fair question and to be honest it was almost entirely my fault.
The development team I hired to develop the Digitex futures exchange was already a functional, small team of friends who had recently sold the last software product they had built to Erikson for GBP12 million. These guys weren’t idiots, one of them had even worked at NASA. I had already dealt with their lead developer who had secured the Digitex ICO website from hackers and the inevitable Ddos attacks during the token sale and he did a superb job under heavy fire and he had a great attitude. The team was based in Dublin so immediately after the ICO I traveled to Ireland and ended up hiring them and putting them in a WeWork office to get started.
Long story short, I didn’t spend enough time in Dublin. Also, my chaotic and energetic personality is entirely unsuited to dealing with the glacial speed of software development. I messed them up with several requested changes to the specs throughout the year that I thought would be easy but which totally derailed their development plan. It turns out that you can hire the smartest developer around but if you give him bad specs and then keep changing them you still end up with a big stinking pile of shit. And that was on me. After almost a year we were moving slower than ever and technical debt was building and after missing our very well publicized December launch date I realized how far behind we actually were and fired the development team.
I’ll continue this story about my Digitex journey in the next installment of this article which I’ll post in a few days time.
I’m the first to admit that I have made many mistakes along the way. Under someone else’s leadership maybe the Digitex futures exchange could have been a massive success already. But those mistakes were just that: mistakes. I’m not a master criminal running an elaborate scheme to separate people from their money, I’m just a guy trying to create a successful business and doing whatever it takes to keep going so that success can be achieved.
And I would argue that my failures so far have now become one of my biggest strengths. I know what it’s like to face adversity and ridicule and criticism and keep going anyway. I know the bitter taste of failure firsthand and instead of being defined by it I use it to drive me forwards, determined to learn from my errors and one day become a skilled, battle-hardened leader with proven resolve who learnt everything the hard way. The education I’ve received in the last 4 years has been money well spent compared to the avalanche of money that will come Digitex’s way in the coming years, all of which will directly benefit DGTX token holders. I’m very aware of where the money that funded my education came from. It came from DGTX token holders, and it kills me that DGTX is so low now, but I’m going to buy back and burn every single DGTX token that was recently minted and take DGTX to a new All Time High. I am Digitex. As bleak as it might look right now, my success over the coming years will be directly reflected in the price of DGTX. I will explain more in the next part of this article which I’ll post in a few days.