A seasoned blockchain journalist & consultant keenly interested in crypto...
Too Long; Didn't ReadI recently sat down with the CEO of BeInCrypto Alena Afanaseva to discuss the rise of crypto journalism and the recent spate of anti-crypto narratives circulating in mainstream media. You can also read Forbes’ story on How BeInCrypto Took On The Sector’s Macho Image - And Won.
A seasoned blockchain journalist & consultant keenly interested in crypto educatio...
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I recently sat down with the CEO of BeInCrypto Alena Afanaseva to discuss the rise of crypto journalism and the recent spate of anti-crypto narratives circulating in mainstream media. You can also read Forbes’ story on How BeInCrypto Took On The Sector’s Macho Image - And Won.
Does BeInCrypto Have a Physical Office?
Thanks to the culture of the Web3 industry, BE[IN]CRYPTO proudly adopts a remote-first and asynchronous work culture. As a result, we have successfully built one of the world's leading crypto media companies, covering 65 markets in 14 languages without needing a physical office or headquarters. Our team, comprising over 260 members across 65 markets, operates entirely remotely.
I am based in Argentina, there are opportunities for in-person meetings, and we do occasionally gather with team members at BE[IN]CRYPTO. While I still believe in the importance of face-to-face interactions, I recognize that they are not as crucial as once. Moreover, as a leader committed to sustainability and mindful of our carbon footprint, we embrace a remote-first culture to achieve a net-zero impact.
What's your route to blockchain and Web 3? Is crypto journalism a promising industry?
I take great pride that BE[IN]CRYPTO's editorial arm has achieved self-sustainability, making us one of the rare news media organizations within the crypto industry and globally capable of building an editorial model that generates sufficient cash flow to maintain profitability. This accomplishment is due primarily to our remote-first approach, which has significantly reduced our financial requirements.
However, we are not resting on our laurels. We recognize the strength of our community and readership base and are actively working towards diversifying our portfolio of services. With the emergence of technologies like AI and the changing landscape of content consumption, we are committed to reimagining the future and meeting the evolving demands of our readers.
Regardless of any future changes, I firmly believe that the need for a trustworthy news organization with an unbiased narrative will remain as crucial in the future as it is today.
Thanks to this strategy, we operate in 14 languages and cover 65 markets while keeping our operational costs lower than our competitors through our remote-first culture. Being financially independent allows us to remain fully transparent and unbiased, enabling us to explore different growth directions, such as developing our education portal, dedicated HR product for talent management, and other services that build our financial strength.
As we look towards the future of BE[IN]CRYPTO, our focus remains on diversifying our revenue streams by developing new products that address the needs of industry participants. By continually innovating and providing value for our readers and partners, we are confident that we will maintain our position as a leading media organization in the crypto industry.
One such new offering we are developing is an advanced learning portal, providing users with a comprehensive learning experience to develop new skills and gain a competitive edge in the job market through upskilling and reskilling. We aim to bridge the talent gap and fuel adoption by offering a learning and development platform that benefits job seekers and employers.
Additionally, we offer managed HR services to top businesses in the industry, facilitating team building, hiring, and talent upskilling. We are confident that our platform will soon become the go-to resource for traditional companies seeking to upskill their existing talent to meet the demands of web3 adoption and development.
In addition to vertical diversification, our goal is to become the reference point for everything web3 in all languages. We operate in 14 languages and plan to expand our linguistic capacities to provide even more coverage. BE[IN]CRYPTO offers services in more languages than any other direct competitor, giving us an edge in the industry.
How did you set up Beincrypto?
In 2018, the idea for BE[IN]CRYPTO was born during the ICO boom. With a decade of experience as a fundamental analyst, I saw the vast potential of blockchain projects and recognized a dire need for reliable information in the industry. Many inexperienced entrepreneurs were attempting to cash in on the burgeoning industry, leading to many scams, misinformation, and shilling around crypto. I had the right background and experience to develop a crypto news media project that could fill this gap.
Our mission to simplify the first steps for non-experienced users set us apart from competitors, making the web3 space accessible for everyone. We focused on providing trustworthy and accurate information for all things crypto, aimed specifically at newbies. This approach proved successful, and within six months of launch, we attracted 500K monthly users.
We soon realized that while crypto market information was accessible in English, it was scarce in other languages. This prompted us to change our focus from growing within the English-speaking audience to expanding worldwide, offering more opportunities to people from emerging markets. After a year of operation, we formed local teams to provide original content in their language, starting with Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, and Turkish. Two years later, we added four more languages, becoming the world's leading international crypto new media.
In 2021, we became the first crypto news media to adopt globally recognized trust indicators through the 'Trust Project.' The project honors news sites that comply with its 8 Trust Indicators aiming for news transparency and accuracy. This recognition helped us establish ourselves as a reliable source of information and cemented our commitment to providing only fact-checked information. Today, we publish unique content in 14 languages written by locals who understand the audience's pains.
At BE[IN]CRYPTO, we strive to empower your web3 journey, regardless of your background and skills. Our mission is to make the web3 space accessible to everyone, and we will do our best to provide you with all the needed information without misleading or complicating things. While the costs were on us for the first six months after we launched BE[IN]CRYPTO, we continue to expand and provide a platform for all things crypto.
What were the early challenges you faced setting up your media company? How did you overcome them?
At BE[IN]CRYPTO, we lead by example when it comes to finding top talent. We believe in hiring individuals who share our values of responsibility and self-drive, are passionate about new technologies, and are willing to work hard to build something from scratch.
However, finding high-quality talent can be challenging, especially when working with a limited budget and in a new industry like web3. When we started, we faced the same hurdles, but through perseverance, we built the right team of 250+ employees spread across 50+ countries.
Managing a 100% international and remote team from different cultures, backgrounds, and time zones in a decentralized setting is an ongoing improvement process. Local teams produce our content, and we have partners in over 160 cities worldwide. These regional teams take timely global information and fine-tune it to their target audience, speaking their language - literally.
Building on this success, we are now developing our HR product offering to help similar businesses in the industry build the right capacities in a decentralized and asynchronous manner. Through our expertise in managing a remote team, we aim to help others navigate this new way of working and build their successful decentralized teams.
Does crypto journalism have a common philosophy?
Bloomberg, Financial Times, and CNBC are increasingly entering the crypto sphere by establishing dedicated news branches. While several successful crypto information portals cater to various needs, we closely follow the work of our colleagues at Decrypt, Cointelegraph, and Coindesk. Despite the intense competition, we take pride in that BE[IN]CRYPTO, the youngest among them, has established itself as one of the top three players in less than four years.
At BE[IN]CRYPTO, we differentiate ourselves by simplifying the initial steps for non-experienced users and helping a less mature audience understand the web3 and crypto industry, explore its potential, and embark on their journeys. This sets us apart from competitors who primarily target the needs of experienced "crypto geeks," making the space exclusive and inaccessible to a broader audience.
Our mission is to empower individuals on their web3 journey, regardless of their background and skills. We firmly believe that anyone can enter the space and are committed to providing all the necessary information without any misleading or complicated jargon. Our goal is to make web3 accessible to everyone by offering learning opportunities and employment possibilities within the industry, allowing individuals to develop the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the crypto world.
Today, we can confidently assert that BE[IN]CRYPTO and most of our direct competitors in the industry take journalism very seriously and adhere to the highest journalistic ethics when collecting and publishing news. However, as the sector is forward-thinking, we must also be agile and creative.
It has become common for media outlets to reference tweets from insiders, access community information, and build stories around bite-sized knowledge. This agile approach is driven by the need for financial market players to have firsthand information to make informed decisions. As a result, I believe that crypto media is challenging the status quo and traditional media while maintaining trustworthiness and a solid reputation.
Is it reactive to mainstream media pushing a wrong narrative about crypto?
Mainstream media has long been influenced by bias shaped by sponsors and external funding. As I mentioned earlier, at BE[IN]CRYPTO, we firmly believe that only financially self-sustainable media organizations can maintain unbiased reporting in today's complex entrepreneurial environment.
Traditional media has exhibited bias not only in their coverage of crypto and web3-related news and stories but also in the handling of incidents like the FTX scandal, where media outlets tended to approach the story with a victim-blaming perspective, failing to hold criminals accountable and using language that softens the severity of the situation. The New York Times, for instance, was among those guilty of this approach. In other words, it is exhibits bias against crypto.
I firmly believe that any media organization should recognize its power and act with goodwill, serving as an open platform for education and enlightenment without bias. It may sound overly optimistic, and perhaps it is, but this is how we operate within our organization.
Where do you see it heading?
As I mentioned earlier, the trustworthiness of a news media organization cannot be achieved when it heavily depends on external factors. At BE[IN]CRYPTO, we take pride in being an independent news media organization with a positive cash flow. We have chosen a different path in an industry where many players receive heavy subsidies, such as Coindesk, owned by Digital Currency Group, and Binance, investing in news media organizations.
Binance, for example, made a $200 million investment in Forbes shortly after suing the publisher for defamation and even secured seats on the media organization's board. Instead of relying on external financial support, we believe in sustainable and steady growth, reinvesting our profits into developing markets.
The question of how a news media organization can remain unbiased when it heavily relies on external investments for survival is not unique to crypto media but applicable to the entire news business and media industry.
While financial support and funding may offer a competitive advantage to some businesses, our focus on sustainable growth allows us to maintain independence and make decisions that prioritize the needs of our readers and the markets we serve. This strategy also enables us to attract top talent, enhance our editorial capabilities, and expand our user base in alignment with our values and mission.
We have established several revenue streams at BE[IN]CRYPTO contributing to our positive cash flow. Our primary source of revenue comes from advertisers and affiliate partners, reflecting the value of our platform as a leading source of information and insights for the crypto industry.
In addition to advertising, we have experienced a surge in demand for our expert HR product, which assists emerging Web3 businesses in building their teams, streamlining hiring processes, and establishing remote work foundations. Our job portal, featuring opportunities from top employers in the industry, has also seen substantial growth, attracting over 20,000 job seekers every week.
Our newly developed education portal and consulting business have started generating revenue after years of steady investment and product development. These areas hold significant potential for further growth and expansion in the coming years.
Looking ahead to 2023, our goal is to diversify our revenue streams through new product development that caters to the needs of industry participants. We are confident in maintaining our position as a leading media organization in the crypto industry by continuously innovating and introducing offerings that add value for our readers and partners.
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