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Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Is Officially Into Blockchain




Wozniak, known for his constant refusal of investment opportunities and business hopefuls, has agreed to take a step into cryptocurrency and blockchain, in the form of a company called EQUI Global.

EQUI Global is an Ethereum-based venture capital fund that will let investors discover and invest in new business opportunities using a cryptocurrency token called EquiToken. Wozniak is approached daily with business pitches and since founding Apple with Steve Jobs in 1976, has turned away just about all of them.

Now, Wozniak has become a co-founder of EQUI Global alongside career investor Doug Barrowman and Ultimo lingerie founder Baroness Michelle Mone. In the official press release, Wozniak explains:

"I get ideas pitched to me every single day in fact dozens and I always say no. Since I co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs, this is about the second time in twenty years that I actually said yes, I want to be a part of this."

Wozniak is no longer involved with Apple but is still on the payroll and remains a key influence in the world of technology. He doesn't dabble in stocks and shares and tends to only invest in things important to him. Wozniak has invested in museums in his hometown of San Jose, California, and is worth around $100 million. The technology icon says that he believes in EQUI Global, founded to fund technology startups and mentor them:

"I know that we have something very special with EQUI. I've since enjoyed giving my feedback to the technical side of the initiative and will very much be an actively involved proud co-founder." 

The Apple founder and engineer will focus on heading up technology investments and finding "tech stars" of tomorrow. "Woz," says the release, "will then bring them to the table and the board of serial entrepreneurs will mentor and coach them with world class expertise and guidance."

EQUI Global aims to disrupt traditional venture capital funding by bridging the gap between the cryptocurrency market and traditional investment models. To invest in the fund, you must be an accredited, sophisticated investor, though Barrowman claims that most people would qualify as such.

The fund differs from traditional venture capital investing in that investors can buy in and leave when they want to through the liquidity of the EquiToken. The token can also be owned and speculated with like any other cryptocurrency, without its owners needing to get involved with the EQUI platform.

Wozniak's backing and active involvement adds an incredible amount of weight to EQUI Global's offering, but it's a venture that arrives with a shadow. Reporting in August and September of 2018 critiques the then-EQUI Capital's ICO. The Financial Times' Alphaville details the ICO, the issues, and its findings at length.

The ICO, launched by EQUI Capital in March 2018, hoped to raise $75 million, but according to reports, it only raised a fraction of that and was extended for another six weeks. The ICO closed in June without meeting its target. It was then hit with scandal when the ICO's so-called "bounty hunters" were not compensated as promised for their work promoting the coin sale.

The Financial Times reporting also indicates that many who bought tokens in the ICO were refunded, with the exception of "sophisticated investors."

In a blog post on the EQUI Global website on October 15, Barrowman talks about "the story so far." The post appears to be an explanation of some of the issues surrounding EQUI Global and begins:

"Our EQUI journey started nearly a year ago. You will have noticed that the EQUI model has changed since the original launch."

Barrowman seems to regret the choice of an ICO, saying instead the fund should have been the driver, not the token. He explains the launch of EQUI was postponed while they rethought their approach. In his words, the new EQUI concept:

"[is] a venture capital fund with a tokenised back end. In so doing, we entered the world of regulated activity, with our token being reclassified as a security token. This meant that our token could only be traded on security exchanges, which are only now coming into existence."

Barrowman then indicates Wozniak joined during a "period of evolution," and that his "advice was pivotal in forming this revised EQUI model." He confesses:

"We did make mistakes with the original EQUI, despite taking best advice at the time of the original launch."

The investor and entrepreneur goes on to describe a "new EQUI," which instead of an ICO will raise funds from "sophisticated investors, whilst still allowing a wider participation than is normally seen in more conventional venture funds."

Barrowman says that EQUI global has retained the major investors that supported its original concept.

EQUI Global has been criticized but appears to be comfortable with its mistakes and has managed to recruit and convince an iconic figure. Wozniak appears to be very supportive and involved with the project. EQUI Global is no longer running an ICO, instead targeting experienced investors. These investors will likely be armed with enough experience and capital to make their own informed decisions. It may be interesting to see how this blockchain-based project pans out in the coming months.

Melanie Kramer

Melanie Kramer is a freelance FinTech, blockchain, and cryptocurrency writer based between France and Canada. Melanie has studied, and retains an avid interest in, global politics, business, and economics.

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