If you have been in Saigon for a while as an expat – there is a good chance that you have run into Jon or at least know several people who’ve been rolling with him on occasion.
Sometimes also described as the “godfather” of the Digital Nomad movement to Saigon, it was Jon’s seminal “Bootstrapping in Saigon” piece from 2013 which created a huge pull towards Vietnam’s Southern Metropolis and put it distinctly on the map in the Digital Nomad world.
But not only that: Early adopter of Bitcoin since 2013 he has since then worked on a variety of projects and in various roles in the industry, before he decided last year to join forces with other Saigonese Crypto Veterans such as Mario Gomez-Lazada and Tom Howard to bring Powertrade into the world, catering to a growing market which is increasingly eager to utilize derivatives such as Options in order to manage their portfolio risk.
Q1: Hi Jon! Vietnam has been seeing a pretty harsh 2021. Lockdown measures which in severity and length probably topped every other country in the world devastated the previously booming local economy and forced a lot of expats out of the country over the course of this summer.
How is the situation in Saigon/Vietnam right now?
Well, right now the country is more or less open and things appear to be running smoothly here. Things seem to be getting better as it appears we are entering the endemic phase and living with Covid.
Q2: It’s now close to a decade that Saigon/Vietnam is your “homebase”. What made you stick around here for that long? What enticed somebody like you to plant your roots in this very specific place? What was it compared to your previous stay in Thailand that tipped the balance for Saigon/Vietnam?
I think Vietnam, specifically Saigon, was a bit of “love at first sight” with me. I really loved the people, the country, city and culture. I’ve always felt welcomed, and at home in Vietnam. The country itself with its favorable youth demographics and skilled technical populations is in a favorable position for an economic recovery.
Q3: When was the first time you stumbled upon Bitcoin – and when did it “click” for you?
Somewhere around 2010/ 2011 I believe. I stumbled onto Bitcoin through a private community I’m in. The thing that “clicked” the most for me would be the “censorship resistance” and a particular world view of the increased politicization and technocratic control of commerce.
Q4: Last year you set out again as a (Co-)Founder of a new venture in the space: Powertrade.
How did the idea for the new platform develop, why did you decide to go ahead with it – and how has the journey been so far?
So far, so good. I’m really proud of the company we have built. My cofounder Mario and I saw a market opportunity for crypto derivatives that was underserved.
Q5: What’s next up for Powertrade? And are you guys hiring?
Yes, we’re always hiring – designers, engineers, marketing folks, etc.,
Q6: What do you expect for the market and general adoption in 2022? And what’s your view of what’s ahead in general in the rest of this decade?
2022 will be more complicated. One crypto “trend” I guess I see from my vantage point is I’m seeing the rise of more structured products that may end up replacing traditional CLOB trading products.
Q7: Back to Vietnam – after the pretty horrific year of 2021 which saw quite possibly the most severe and long-lasting lockdown restrictions on Earth and which led to a huge exodus of foreigners as well as general deep disruption of the local economy: What’s ahead for Vietnam?
And since a lot of people these days are looking for an “alternative home” due to their own countries’ policies: Would you recommend Vietnam as a possible “exit option”? And for who this is *not* the place-to-be?
I’m generally quite optimistic on Vietnam and will be here for the foreseeable future. The entrepreneur community goes through its waves of people in and out of the country. I think we are entering a new wave as far as I can tell with new people arriving. Personally, I’m excited by the prospects here and look forward to the future.
You can follow Jon for more on: Twitter