CoinGecko Podcast - Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency Insights

Nicolas Van Hoorde Talks About Delta And His eToro Acquisition - Ep. 8

March 17, 2020 Bobby Ong Season 1 Episode 8
CoinGecko Podcast - Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency Insights
Nicolas Van Hoorde Talks About Delta And His eToro Acquisition - Ep. 8
Chapters
CoinGecko Podcast - Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency Insights
Nicolas Van Hoorde Talks About Delta And His eToro Acquisition - Ep. 8
Mar 17, 2020 Season 1 Episode 8
Bobby Ong

In this episode, Bobby Ong, co-founder of CoinGecko is joined by Nicolas Van Hoorde, CEO of Delta. Bobby interviewed Nicolas on the story behind Delta, its features, as well as his plans for Delta in 2020 and beyond.

[00:00:02] Intro
[00:00:39] Nicolas Van Hoorde’s personal story
[00:02:02] Background on Delta
[00:05:28] Monetization of Delta app
[00:06:39] Acquisition by eToro
[00:09:20] Stats on Delta
[00:13:47] Plans for Delta in 2020
[00:16:03] Reaction of the Delta community regarding the eToro acquisition
[00:36:06] Where to follow Delta?

Quotes from the Episode

“I think a lot of services and products in crypto at that time were, I would say run by people that weren't really very engineering focused.” [00:04:18]

“Some people or companies might say it's a bit stupid, but it's really a philosophy for us that we don't go diving into user data even if it's aggregated.” [00:10:43]

“And to this day I can say very honestly that we've been successfully keeping the promises that we've made and we, of course, do everything to keep those promises. And I have no, I see no reason why this would change in the future.” [00:17:06]

Links

Website: https://delta.app/
iOS App: https://itunes.apple.com/app/delta-crypto-ico-portfolio/id1288676542?lang=en
Android App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=io.getdelta.android&lang=en
Twitter: https://twitter.com/get_delta

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Bobby Ong, co-founder of CoinGecko is joined by Nicolas Van Hoorde, CEO of Delta. Bobby interviewed Nicolas on the story behind Delta, its features, as well as his plans for Delta in 2020 and beyond.

[00:00:02] Intro
[00:00:39] Nicolas Van Hoorde’s personal story
[00:02:02] Background on Delta
[00:05:28] Monetization of Delta app
[00:06:39] Acquisition by eToro
[00:09:20] Stats on Delta
[00:13:47] Plans for Delta in 2020
[00:16:03] Reaction of the Delta community regarding the eToro acquisition
[00:36:06] Where to follow Delta?

Quotes from the Episode

“I think a lot of services and products in crypto at that time were, I would say run by people that weren't really very engineering focused.” [00:04:18]

“Some people or companies might say it's a bit stupid, but it's really a philosophy for us that we don't go diving into user data even if it's aggregated.” [00:10:43]

“And to this day I can say very honestly that we've been successfully keeping the promises that we've made and we, of course, do everything to keep those promises. And I have no, I see no reason why this would change in the future.” [00:17:06]

Links

Website: https://delta.app/
iOS App: https://itunes.apple.com/app/delta-crypto-ico-portfolio/id1288676542?lang=en
Android App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=io.getdelta.android&lang=en
Twitter: https://twitter.com/get_delta

Bobby Ong:   0:02
Welcome to the CoinGecko podcast. I'm your host Bobby Ong. Each week we will be interviewing someone from the blockchain industry to learn more about this fast moving crypto currency economy. If this is your first time listening, then thanks for coming. The CoinGecko podcast is produced each week to help you stay ahead of the curve. Show notes can be found at podcast.coingecko.com. I highly encourage you to join our newsletter where we send out top news in the crypto industry every Monday to Friday. Come back often and feel free to add the podcast to your favorite RSS feed or iTunes. You can also follow us on Twitter and Telegram at CoinGecko.

Bobby Ong:   0:39
Welcome to the CoinGecko Podcast. For today’s episode, let’s welcome Nicolas Van Hoorde, CEO of Delta. Delta is a cryptocurrency portfolio tracker app that was recently acquired by eToro. Welcome to the show, Nicolas.

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   0:51
Thank you and also very pleasing to hear that you invited me, so thanks again.

Bobby Ong:   0:57
For the first question, we want to know a little bit about your personal story. When do you first hear about Bitcoin and what got you to move full time into this industry?

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   1:06
Well, the thing is, I'm not one of the very early adopters. I think it was March 2017 when I first started looking into different types of investments because I'm still relatively young and I first got my savings. Yeah, it started to accumulate and I saw, okay, this isn't, basically it's not giving any yearly return on investment. So I started looking into stocks, ETFs and crypto and I think it was fairly quickly that I got most attracted by the cryptocurrency industry because it was very young as well and the technology behind it, of course it's very interesting since my computer science background and yeah, I think it was in May 2017 when I started doing my first investment. So it was right before, I would say the big boom in end of 2017, beginning of 2018.

Bobby Ong:   2:02
Yeah. You certainly got started at the right time I would say. What inspired you to start Delta?

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   2:08
Well, so I was working at a previous company together with a colleague and we both started, like our first investments. And back in the time, even more so than today, the landscape of crypto was even more scattered. So you could buy Bitcoin on Coinbase, but if you want it for instance, I don't know, Ripple you had to go to somewhere else like the Bittrex and yeah, basically it was very hard to keep an overview of all your investments. Blockfolio back then was the only solution or not the only one, but basically the only one. And while they have made great improvements over time, back then my colleague and I thought, okay, this is working, but it's, it's not really working super well. I think we can do it better. And we try to think about ways where we can really build something that would improve on what was already available. And that's what we tried to do and ultimately also did.

Bobby Ong:   3:01
Interesting. So when exactly do you start Delta and how large of a team do you currently have and where are you guys located?

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   3:11
Like I said, we started investing in May 2017 and then in summer of 2017, I would say June, July we had the first concepts worked out and then we started development around end of July, August, we launched in October, the 1st of October 2017. And then Delta expanded extremely rapidly. So it was first us two, then we had other co-founders joined as well. Um, then our first employees in the beginning of 2018 and then today over time you get, we just hired three new people. I think the team in Ghent, Belgium is little over 10 people. And then we also have four community managers who are working remotely across the world. So, I would say a total of 50 right now.

Bobby Ong:   4:04
So you mentioned that you guys grew very fast in late 2017. What do you think you guys did right as compared to Blockfolio for example?

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   4:16
Well, not necessarily only Blockfolio. I think a lot of services and products in crypto at that time were, I would say run by people that weren't really, that were very engineering focused. And that's maybe the one advantage that we had is that we had the combination of, of engineering and product and marketing a bit, I would say. So what Delta did really well compared to the other services out there was being very transparent, we openly communicated, okay, this is what we're building, these are our numbers. We literally said, okay with "X" many users. We clearly stated, okay, we are fully anonymous. We interacted with the users. So we basically had an open up system where they can request features. So basically, yeah, this openness was for the crypto industry, something that was relatively new and combined with the fact that actually the product, of course, was also considered one of the better looking product, say in crypto. We got applauded for really easy to use interface, good UX, et cetera. I think that made us stand out from the get go.

Bobby Ong:   5:28
Yeah, I remember your app was one of well-designed app and a lot of people were using Delta back then. Even now I suppose actually. How do you guys monetize the app?

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   5:40
Well, I think that's also an important piece of the success puzzle in a sense because as you know, crypto had had its highs and then afterwards it's lows. And the good thing was that we launched in October 2017 and then in December 2017, we already introduced our premium subscription, Delta Pro and launching that relatively fast after our initial launch helped us to create our current business model because we had recurring revenue from our monthly subscriptions and also our yearly subscription. So even, in like the worst month, end of 2018, we had people that were recurring their yearly subscription because the Delta Pro subscription is, I wouldn't say cheap, but it's also not so expensive that people say, okay this is not bringing any value. So we have thousands of users recurring their Delta Pro subscription and this allowed us to keep growing even in downtimes and was also a key element I would say, in the acquisition of eToro.

Bobby Ong:   6:39
Yeah. I mean you guys recently got acquired by eToro so congratulations on that. Why did you guys choose to sell to eToro and how was it like having your first exit?

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   6:50
Well, I think, end of 2018, I think Delta's board made a wise decision into saying, okay guys, we are doing well, but we need to make sure that we are diversifying either vertically or horizontally. And to be able to do this with success, we need a strategic partner. So the plan was not necessarily to find somebody that fully acquire Delta, but to find a strategic partner to help us get bigger, to become really a house in the FinTech industry, or at least the crypto industry, which we kind of achieved already, but we can always do better. And there were several parties that we talked to and I think ultimately eToro was most aligned with our plan to diversify in the sense that we want to become more than just crypto tracker. We want to become an investment tracker that you can check anything that has value, stocks or equity ETFs, et cetera. And of course, with eToro's offering that made a lot of sense. The only thing was that eToro was only interested if they could acquire Delta for the full 100%, and then one thing led to another and ultimately there was a quite a big time span, when we first started talking and when we ultimately closed. But ultimately I would say by the end of October 2019, which is end of last year, the deal was fully finalized that we were fully acquired.

Bobby Ong:   8:17
Nice. So I haven't done an exit before, so I'm just curious, how long did the whole conversation take from the first time you started speaking to eToro until the day you signed an agreement to sale Delta to eToro?

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   8:29
Um, let me think. I think it was between eight and 11 months, something around those times.

Bobby Ong:   8:41
Well that's pretty long actually. Yeah. But I guess in terms of acquisition that's pretty normal, in between a one year time-frame.

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   8:49
Well, I must say it's also because the road to the full acquisition was a bit different because like I mentioned, we first started looking for a strategic partnership. So that delayed the process a bit and in that sense that, yeah, we weren't fully aligned yet from the start on a full acquisition. So once we were fully aligned, I would say that the process took five to six months. So I think that's maybe a more realistic time-frame if you basically start looking for a full acquisition from the start.

Bobby Ong:   9:20
Can you share some stats on Delta, for example, how many users you guys have, where are they mainly from, etc.?

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   9:28
And so yeah, we have a 1.5 million users right now in total. Across different platforms and also Android and also small piece that is on desktop. And then from those 1.5 million users, I would say that 250,000 are monthly active users, which is for us the key metric. And we're trying to grow, of course as we speak. Right now, we are of course working on our big diversification project as I mentioned, which should see the day a wide, I would say later this year. So yeah, we're definitely trying to keep on growing and building Delta into a broader platform.

Bobby Ong:   10:10
And are there any interesting stats that you saw, like for example, most users for example, love Bitcoin, 50% of users you know, are from the US or something else. Do you know any of these stats?

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   10:23
That's the thing. Like I said in the beginning of the conversation, we really take anonymity very close to our hearts. So we don't really do even, of course there's no way to do individual data cause we don't have any identifiable data. But even aggregated data is something we don't really use. Some people or companies might say it's a bit stupid, but it's really a philosophy for us that we don't go diving into user data even if it's aggregated. So yeah, I can't really share those things because I truly don't know them.

Bobby Ong:   10:58
And this is quite different from the way that Blockfolio is organizing the data in a sense and they know which users have which assets and how much they own and where they're from. Do you think anonymity is a very important characteristic for people in the crypto industry?

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   11:19
I think it used to be more important than it is today, if I'm honest. Because the crypto industry mature over time. I would say it's still not as mature as other financial markets, but it's at least going into the right direction. That being said, it's not because you truly value anonymity that it's immature, of course. I'm just saying that people are, I would say less anal about the fact if something that is not really that important, it's part of the public domain or something. So I think yeah, it's in healthy space right now. Also for Blockfolio, even if they do stuff with aggregated data, it's something that is not tied to a specific user. So it should be okay, we just made the choice so far to not go down that route, which is of course a business decision and, Blockfolio doesn't, for instance, doesn't have a premium subscription, so they need to get revenue through data and businesses. So that's a big difference.

Bobby Ong:   12:24
Yeah. You brought out a very good point. I believe that in the early days of crypto it attracts a lot of libertarians and a lot of people that care a lot about privacy and anonymity but as this industry matures further, it attracts a lot more mainstream audience and these people may not really care too much or they do care, but not as highly important as what the early timers who used to come to crypto care about for anonymity. Talking about the premium subscriptions, like your main competitor Blockfolio who gave their app for free and they don't charge subscription. Why do you think people want to pay for Delta when they can get pretty much a similar product on Blockfolio for free?

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   13:01
The thing is Delta I would say is for 95% free. And the 95% that is free is also the same feature sets that is free for Blockfolio. So the things you can do with Delta Pro, which is the premium subscription are things that you can't do on on Blockfolio anyway. So there is no real time price, don't look forward, there is no portfolio, analytics. So all these features are basically things that their free features are on par or even above the competition. So for us the user is not losing anything. He can just get even more than on other platform.

Bobby Ong:   13:47
So you've mentioned earlier just now briefly about some of your diversification plan. Like do you want to own share a little bit more what's your big plan for 2020 and how do you guys plan to expand further into other asset classes beyond crypto?

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   13:59
So yeah, like I mentioned back in the end of 2018 we made the conscious decision to diversify. They're still two different routes we're exploring, which is diversifying horizontally or vertically. I'm repeating myself. So on the one hand it means that we could go even deeper in crypto and allow people to trade and to purchase crypto within the Delta application. The other route is to say, okay, we're going to stick being a tracker, which we're going to introduce more asset classes. And yeah, I think in the following, I would say, six months you will or by the end of the next six months you'll hear and see what it's, what it will be.

Bobby Ong:   14:45
And you guys are now part of the eToroX team, I believe? This is part of the team that eToro has to work on the exchange platform that they launched. Do you see any difference since your acquisition?

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   14:58
Well, the, the big thing I need to mention is that it's not 100% correct to say that Delta is part of eToro or within the umbrella of eToroX, I mean. Delta is part of eToro, the normal eToro, not eToroX. It is true that the manager of eToroX is also managing Delta. But other than that, it's not the case that Delta is part of eToroX. We are trying to be a separate entity within the eToro and trying to find synergies between both eToroX and eToro. And you'll see those come to fruition in the coming months. So for us, it's, we don't try to label this as part of A or part of X. We're part of everybody and we're trying to help everybody and they're trying to help us. And yeah, so it's true that the exchange that eToro runs, being eToroX, It's also one of the reasons why it's easier for us to diversify by allowing people to purchase and to trade. So it has opened a lot of gateways for Delta to do these things.

Bobby Ong:   16:03
And when you guys got acquired by eToro, what was the reaction from your community? Did they view it positively, did they view it negatively? Do they see any conflict of interest in the sense that Delta is no longer neutral and is owned by one of the big exchanges, for example?

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   16:20
It's a good question. When the acquisition came to a final conclusion, which was one of my main worries and it was actually nice to see that indeed the crypto industry has matured and has come to realize that these types of business deals are actually good. It means that people are working together. That projects like Delta, small startup can become a success, can become bigger, yeah, ultimately be a good thing for the industry. And I think, uh, we had almost zero concerns or complaints. I also wrote an open letter to all the Delta users on our blog to basically made sure that they are, that all their concerns, that we share their concerns and we will be safeguarding those concerns. And to this day I can say very honestly that we've been successfully keeping the promises that we've made and we, of course, do everything to keep those promises. And I have no, I see no reason or why this would change in the future.

Bobby Ong:   17:24
That's very good to hear. At the end of the day, like providing what the user wants is the most important thing and if the users are happy with what services that you provide they will stick to the service that they are used to and there's no reason for them to switch to someone else if you're doing everything correct.

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   17:39
Yeah, indeed. So we made sure, okay, we said, everybody, the company behind Delta, the team, they'll keep working as it always has, the entire team remains in Belgium. We will keep on trying to improve the app. Our core values also match those of eToro. So we are still paying retrospects to security, privacy and data and we are still known and will try to stay being known for beautiful user experiences. So reassuring the users of all those things I think helped a lot. And also big thanks to our community managers who are, who were available on Telegram the first few days after the news broke, replying to the concerns of the users and sharing our take on what's next for Delta. I'm going to say that it's been months since we've any question or minor complaint even about the fact that we're part of a bigger entity. So it turned out really well.

Bobby Ong:   18:36
That's great to hear. Very, very happy to hear that. Lastly, before we close off, so if someone's interested to find out more about Delta, how can they find and follow you guys?

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   18:43
Well first of all, our website is very easy. delta.app. And if you want to really connect with us on Twitter, it's twitter.com/get_delta and then that's the best place I would say to get in touch. You can also always reach me, which is @NicholasVH on Twitter or NicholasVH on Reddit, where we are also very active. Our Telegram group is open. Our community managers will happily answer any question you have. So definitely get in touch, give it a try. Also let us know what you don't like. We are not saying the app is perfect, it's far from it. We are trying to improve it on an ongoing basis and we hope that's by Q3, Q4 of 2020 you have a Delta is really something that helps your everyday life as an investor.

Bobby Ong:   19:33
Awesome. Cool. I guess I asked all the questions, so thank you very much for joining us on the CoinGecko podcast, Nicolas. 

Nicolas Van Hoorde:   0:00
Thanks for having me. 

Bobby Ong:   0:00
All right, that wraps up the show. Thank you for listening to the CoinGecko podcast with Bobby. If you like our show and want to know more, check out podcasts.coingecko.com or please leave us a review on iTunes. Do you have any feedback? Do drop us an email at hello@coingecko.com. Join us for more next week. See ya.

Disclaimer:   19:59
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