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Team & Founders Analysis
Summary:
A team composed of diverse individuals with experience from Bitpay, American Express, Apple, Dogecoin, VentureMe and Swipe Labs.

Introduction

Metal is the name of a mobile-based platform that wants to encourage users to adopt cryptocurrencies as well as give them the comfort of seamless inter-operability between fiat and crypto world in a fair manner. Metal’s cryptocurrency token is built upon the Ethereum blockchain, as an ERC 20 token. 

Metal allows both banked and unbanked individuals to send and receive money on their mobile devices. From this point of view, it can be compared to Venmo, Square or PayPal. However, the Metal app will support both fiat and cryptocurrencies.

Metal's platform pegs digital currency to fiat value to neutralize price fluctuations. This is important since most people do not necessarily understand the mechanics of cryptocurrency transactions.

Moreover, to encourage user adoption, it incentivizes people to transact through the Metal app via a reward mechanism called PoPP (aka Proof of Processed Payments). For every user who converts fiat currency into crypto through the Metal platform, both the sender and the receiver earn 5% of the gross amount transacted in the form of Metal tokens, once the payment is completely settled and the bank transfer or crypto issued.

Moreover, merchants may also receive an additional 5% off payment processing fees for offering a discount when paying with MTL. 

It is important to note that in the beginning, Metal will target small to medium sized cash-based business, that finds it hard to get credit because they have no credit history. High-risk industries, such as cannabis, nutraceuticals, eSports, and adult industry will be the first on Metal’s list.

Metal project has a team with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the digital currency and e-commerce space. Professionals from Bitpay, American Express, Apple, Dogecoin, VentureMe and Swipe Labs, as well as advisors from BitTorrent, Civic, Alphabit and Purse are all working towards Metal’s success. Details about them are provided in the next chapter.

THE TEAM

1. Marshall Hayner is the CEO and co-founder of Metal. He has certain experience in the crypto world before Metal, Marshall founded Quick Coin in 2014, a peer-to-peer digital currency with a distributed, decentralized public ledger. Quick Coin aimed to make Bitcoin easy and convenient to use – the company’s social wallet allowed users to send tiny increments of Bitcoin to their friends. However, the project failed. Later on, Marshall created a bitcoin event called the “Bitcoin Fair”. Its purpose was to bring bitcoin enthusiasts together and play a part in bringing bitcoin to the masses.

For 6 months, Marshall was the Chief Marketing Officer for Block.io, a firm building blockchain related API calls.

He also started a recording studio in Oakland and later founded Trees. The later was a medical cannabis delivery service, based in San Francisco and servicing all of Bay Area. This is in a way connected to Metal, since the crypto platform will target high-risk industries, such as cannabis, nutraceuticals, eSports and adult industry.

2. Glenn Mariën is Metal’s co-founder and CTO. Although rather young (finished his bachelor degree in 2012), he has experience in the crypto world. He founded Dogechain.info, an online service for the virtual currency called Dogecoin. Dogechain allowed users to send and receive units of the virtual currency or use the firm’s API to integrate external platforms, such as currency exchanges with the virtual currency.

He also co-founded BitBetween, a payment service provider for virtual currencies.

3. Oscar Munoz is the Chief Compliance Officer for Metal. He has a solid background in risk management and compliance, having worked for many years in the payments ecosystem. He worked as an Authorizations Team Leader and Centurion Card Manager for American Express, for eight years. Afterwards, he was part of Visa for almost 7 years. For his latest position, he worked as a Director of Data Security & Third Party Risk.

4. Sid Parihar is Metal’s Chief Designer. Before joining Metal, he spent 8 years at Apple, as a Senior UX Designer. Since Metal’s whitepaper makes references towards Metal’s user-friendly platform, Sid’s experience should prove useful to the team.

5. Ephraim Russo is Metal’s Sr. iOS Engineer. Although he completed his bachelor’s degree in 2017, he gained experience working as Head of Mobile at iubble, for almost two years. The company’s core product consisted of a web browser that made it easy to discover, organize, and share web content. Fintech studios, an artificial intelligence based financial information network, acquired iubble two years after its foundation. Later on, Ephraim founded VentureMe Inc, a startup meant to work as a personal planner that can be used for any occasion. The application used machine learning to curate and suggest events in users’ cities.

6. Kenan Pulak is Metal’s Lead iOS Engineer. He graduated in Computer Engineering in 2012. In the same year, he co-founded Roundpop, an application allowing users to discover where their friends are and what interests they have. He later was the CTO and co-founder at Retrace, a mobile app that puts users’ notes, photos, follow-up tasks and contact information in the context of a meeting. The company raised $100K in Seed financing from Crunchfund and Archimedes Labs.

Afterwards, before joining Metal, Kenan worked as an iOS Engineer for TheRealReal (an online luxury resale store), Motiv Inc (a brand focused on making devices that fit is user’s lives) and Swipe Labs (a think tank experimenting with new social products). In 2017 Swipe Labs was acquired by Uber for an undisclosed sum.

7. Brock Nordstrom was recently hired at Metal as a graphic designer. He previously worked for Apple as an art director. According to his LinkedIn profile, he still has numerous collaborations as Designer/Art Director with other companies such as Voyager, Logan.tv, Ant Farm and Wolf&Crow.

8. Virgil Bellini is the current sales manager at Metal. He has more than 11 years of experience as a salesman in real estate. He is still a Real Estate Investment Broker at Benin LLC, a boutique real estate firm with projects on the East Coast.


ADVISORS

The company is backed by a team of experienced advisors as well.

1. Bram Cohen was the founder and CEO of BitTorrent, one of the world’s leading peer-based technology companies. He also founded and managed Chia Network, a company focused on improving crypto-currency infrastructure. The company is building a blockchain based on proofs of space and time to make a cryptocurrency which is less wasteful, more decentralized, and more secure.

2. Vinny Lingham is a South African entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of Civic Technologies, a blockchain based identity management company. He is also General Partner at Multicoin Capital, a venture style fund investing in liquid crypto assets. Vinny was also a Board Member at The Bitcoin Foundation and co-founded Newtown Partners, a Cape Town-based seed investment fund that focuses on early-stage technology startups in South Africa. among many others.

3. Juan Llanos is a certified Anti-Money laundering specialist since 2003. He worked as a Chief Compliance Officer and co-founder for Unidos Financial Services, a platform technology and financial services company catering to under-banked end consumers and merchants in the U.S. He had the same position for Bitreserve (now Uphold), a digital payments platform that addresses bitcoin volatility and provides real-time transparency, transaction traceability and proof of solvency. 

He is an advisor for multiple startups, focusing on fintech, govtech, legaltech and regtech. Moreover, since March 2017, Juan is collaborating with ConsenSys, a blockchain venture production studio.

4. Andrew Lee is the CEO and CoFounder of Purse, a platform that allows users to get a discount on their Amazon purchases by matching bitcoin holders with those who have a balance on the e-commerce platform. Andrew has further experience in the crypto market, being an advisor for Huiyin Blockchain Venture and BuyBitcoin.ph. The former company is a venture capital fund focused on investing in blockchain & bitcoin companies, while the latter is the first Bitcoin exchange in the Philippines.

Andrew also worked for the Bank of America Merill Lynch, as a Technology Associate/Partnership Dev.

5. Jeff Lunsford is the CEO and President a Tealium, a company helping brands make data actionable, in real-time, across every customer experience touch point. Before Tealium, Jeff co-founded DefenseStorm, a technology platform and community that helps financial service providers to combat threats. Ex-military and financial services cyber-security experts joined the said platform. Additionally, Jeff is Chairman & Investor for nCino Inc, a cloud banking provider, with an operating system built on the Salesforce platform. 


INVESTORS

Metal investors include Ben Nguyen Tang Le, whose experience is mainly related to the real estate sector. Ben worked for CBRE/McKesson, the largest real estate services firm, as a Sr. Portfolio Strategist. He also worked for Starwood Land Ventures as a Senior Financial Analyst, for a couple of years.

Another Metal investor is Erik Voorhees, who has been in crypto since 2011. He worked as Head of Marketing at BitInstant, a platform for buying Bitcoin with cash. He co-founded and managed Coinapult, a Bitcoin company, providing liquidity and secure wallet services for both businesses and consumers. 

For the past three years, Eric has been CEO of ShapeShift, an instant exchange for digital assets such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Mario Pazos is also a Metal investor. He has over 14 years of experience in varied projects. He worked as a Senior Vice President for Citi and afterward switched to MasterCard, where he was Vice President – Regional Prepaid & Personal Payments Head. 

Mario recently became an advisor at WaBi, a project dedicated to developing a blockchain based loyalty program for the global market. In January 2018, he co-founded Security Token Partners. 

Other investors are G2 Ventures, a venture capital firm, collaborating with early-stage startups and SMBs, Gateway, a cannabis business accelerator and Alphabit, a digital currency fund.  


ONLINE PRESENCE

Metal’s Facebook page has approximately 2000 fans, while the number of followers on Twitter reaches 30,000. There does not seem to be a lot of interaction between Metal fans and the company’s team, although the latter answers any questions raised by followers. There is a similar situation on Youtube, where one can find some AMA or presentation videos. However, the number of followers is rather low. 

An interesting thing to note is that Metal is an official sponsor for Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Cup. The tournament is an event featuring top professional tennis players and Sir Richard Branson who are paired up with amateur teams of all levels.

CONCLUSION

Many of the team members are rather young and perhaps lack experience, but they seem to compensate the latter with enthusiasm and passion. Moreover, the internal team surrounded itself with some strong advisors, that have experience in the crypto market. Additionally, another plus is the fact that Metal is a Necker Cup sponsor. 

On the downside, however, the company still has some milestones to reach. There are some parts where Metal seems to lack the necessary attention – for instance, the project’s whitepaper doesn’t say anything about the team members. Moreover, in my opinion, Metal should add one or two marketing and social media specialists, in order to better communicate the platform’s goals and objectives.

Personally, on a scale from 1 to 10, I would give the Metal Team an 7, meaning that I believe in their expertise and in their capability to deliver.

References:

  • https://www.crypto-news.net/is-metalpay-mtl-the-omisego-for-america/
  • https://www.metalpay.com/assets/pdf/whitepaper.pdf
  • https://support.metalpay.com/hc/en-us/articles/115000443413-Metal-Announces-MTL-Token-Launch 
  • https://angel.co/marshall-hayner
  • https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/iubble
  • http://crownmade.net/About-Sid
  • https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/metal/
  • https://twitter.com/metalpaysme
  • https://pando.com/2014/05/26/san-franciscos-quickcoin-bitcoin-so-simple-even-mom-can-use-it/
  • https://thestute.com/2017/02/24/stevens-student-places-second-in-global-student-entrepreneur-awards/

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