Although China has continued to relentlessly clamp down certain subsets of the crypto industry, the nation’s blockchain scene continues to swell at an unbridled pace, backed by hotshot entrepreneurs, billions in Renminbi (China’s currency), and world-renowned incubators and venture capital consortiums. Most recently, a notable Chinese blockchain startup hired a legendary Bitcoin investor, accentuating that this industry is far from dead in the water.
Grandshores Hires Li Xiaoli, China’s “Bitcoin Evangelist”
On Monday, Grandshores Technology Group, a blockchain investment group, has divulged that it had formally brought on Li Xiaolai, a bigwig in China’s crypto scene, according to reports from the South China Morning Post (SCMP). Per the Asia-centric outlet, Grandshores, a Hong Kong-listed firm indirectly backed by a large endowment stemming from Hangzhou’s municipal government, has appointed Li as its new co-chief executive officer.
In an official statement, released to its shareholders, the Hangzhou-tied blockchain upstart purportedly claimed that Li, dubbed China’s in-house “Bitcoin evangelist,” will also operate as its executive director. Per Grandshores, Li will be taking the helm of a number of startup’s ventures, namely, a stablecoin slated to be pegged to the Japanese Yen. The statement, elaborated, reading:
“Mr. Li will mainly be responsible for various projects in which the company is taking part, including the establishment of a stable digital currency system (focusing on mainstream international currencies).”
After consulting with Grandshores insiders, SCMP claimed that the Asian blockchain group plans to launch the unnamed Yen stablecoin, originally unveiled in September, by February 2019, with such a crypto asset being one of the first of its kind. Other reports indicate that Yao Yongjie, chairman of the startup, claimed that his firm is also looking into stablecoins tied to other notable currencies, such as the Australian and Hong Kong dollars.
Li is expected to work with the Singapore-headquartered group at least until August 2019, the month of Grandshore’s next annual general meeting, at which point he presumably will be reevaluated. Even if the evangelist’s tenure doesn’t post stellar results, with this move, it is abundantly apparent that Grandshores is well on its way to achieving its long-time vision of funding the “next blockchain unicorn.”
Li, for those not in the know, is most well-known for founding BitFund, a China-rooted cryptocurrency-focused fund that once held 3.8 billion yuan (~$550 million) in assets. Although Li’s brainchild has since vanished from the limelight, the investor is still lauded as China’s richest Bitcoin investor, along with an array of other whimsical titles that would make crypto’s self-proclaimed “experts” jealous.
Didn’t Li Xiaolai Quit Crypto And Blockchain?
While the onboarding of such a notable industry participant is logical, especially considering Hangzhou’s involvement in Grandshores, Li’s involvement in the cryptosphere has been up in the air in recent months. Li’s appearance on Grandshores’ top brass comes just months after he reportedly quit investing in blockchain-centric projects. As reported by TechNode, who originally broke this intriguing development, through a Weibo post, the supposed billionaire wrote (has been translated by TechNode):
“From this day on, I, Li Xiaolai, will personally not invest in any projects (whether it is blockchain or early stage). So, if you see ‘Li Xiaolai’ associated with any project (I have been associated with countless projects without my knowledge, 99% is not an exaggeration), just ignore it.”
The Chinese Bitcoin tycoon went on to add that he plans to sit on his laurels for “several years,” as he contemplates his next steps in life. This statement, while not explicitly stating he won’t join a blockchain startup, obviously throws a wrench in Grandshores’ exciting announcement, as it indicates that Li has lost faith in this industry.
Some have suspected that he underwent a burnout, brought upon by the tumultuous market and years of putting the pedal to a metal. Others have claimed that events in his checkered crypto history, such as calling Binance “fraudulent,” and reportedly owing creditors 30,000 BTC, sent him to a frenzy. Still, a Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed company, like Grandshores, wouldn’t be caught dead lying about such a development. So for now, it seems that Li has been legitimately brought onto Grandshores’ team.