Recently, Alon Goren built WP Crypto Exchange, a WordPress plug-in that allows sites to offer their users the ability to exchange tokens without having to leave the site. Since the plug-in uses portfolio company Totle’s API, it also grants users the best possible decentralized exchange rates.
In theory, any site running WordPress can implement this plug-in in under 30 minutes and offer their users the ability to trade digital assets, a feature companies such as Coinbase and Binance spent hundreds of millions to build.
This launch is exceptionally notable when considering the sheer size of the WordPress community. WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS), and roughly 35% of websites on the internet use it. To put this into perspective, one of every three sites is built using WordPress. Of the CMS-built sites, 60% of them use WordPress. There are roughly 400 million people that visit a WordPress-built site per month.
Alon Goren, along with Josef Holm, founded Goren Holm in 2018, a fintech venture studio that primarily focuses on incubating and accelerating early-stage blockchain startups. Along with an investment from billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper, the fund was rebranded as Draper Goren Holm in 2019 and has since expanded its activity in the blockchain investment space.
Draper Goren Holm has made investments in companies such as:
- Totle, a decentralized exchange aggregator with an API that allows users to get the best possible decentralized trading rates.
- Vertalo, a company helping tokenize company cap tables and other assets.
- DeFi Money Market, a company offering interest-bearing accounts for cryptocurrency deposits.
Today, we got to chat with Alon Goren about the cryptocurrency industry, his blockchain venture studio Draper Goren Holm.
Could you give us a two-minute movie trailer of your life? How did you end up involved in the cryptocurrency space?
I’ve been a techie since I was a kid. In college, I worked as a teller in a couple of banks then got a tech job at one of them but quickly got a full-time job offer from MySpace so I took that and finished school at night.
While there (and working later at IMDb/Amazon), one of my friends and I from MySpace decided to try and use social media technology to help people raise money on the internet. It was crowdfunding before that word existed. Over time that industry grew and for the most part got sucked into the crypto space.
While I was at that company we experimented with crypto and mining to see if it would work for microtransactions but it was wayyyyyyy too early for primetime. Also, one of our first partners was Boostfunder, the crowdfunding platform that Adam Draper created that eventually became BoostVC. He went all-in on crypto real early and so got to learn a lot from watching them, attending their demo days, and meeting a lot of their companies.
A few years ago, I went all-in on the space when joining one of my previous investors to start a crypto fund and rebranding our crowdfunding conference to Crypto Invest Summit (now LA Blockchain Summit). I have since left that fund and began Goren Holm Ventures which we rebranded to Draper Goren Holm last year when Tim Draper became our partner.
How did Draper Goren Holm come to be? Could you tell us a bit about the firm?
Draper Goren Holm used to be called Goren Holm Ventures. Essentially it was the portfolio of early-stage blockchain startups that Josef Holm and I amassed by either advising or investing in companies. We had no outside investors at the time.
Early last year, we realized what we had built was extremely valuable and working really well so I decided to scale it by raising some money and growing the team and opportunities. During that process, Tim Draper was our 2nd investor and took the whole rest of the funding round. Part of that deal was that we would rebrand and become equal partners. We’re now scaling! We invest in and amplify pre-seed blockchain startups and we produce epic blockchain/crypto events.
For someone looking to get involved, either as an investor or as an entrepreneur, how would you define opportunity in the cryptocurrency space?
Opportunities are abundant, chaotic and awesome. EVERYONE should be participating, but everyone should take their time to understand the space. In emerging and hyped up industries there are a lot of wannabes, scammers, and bad deals.
Don’t go all-in until you can navigate that. Make friends with the community. You will meet the smartest people in the world and you will learn A LOT.
Can you help bring readers up to speed on Totle? Why did you guys choose to work with Totle’s API?
Totle is one of our first portfolio companies. I fell in love with them the first time I saw their product. It was the first time I didn’t feel fear while using a decentralized exchange.
They created a way to route DEX trades to wherever you will get the best prices on that trade and created an API that makes it easy for engineers to integrate that tool into their products. I wanted it to be that simple for non-techies and so decided to use it to make the Cryptocurrency Exchange WordPress Plugin.
Can you touch on your experience with Totle?
I think I mostly answered this above, but their product is great. If you go direct to Totle.exchange you can see the details of how they route the trades to get you the best prices. In my opinion, it is the best place to trade crypto. I love Uniswap, Kyber, and all the rest of the awesome DEXs, but being able to swap the best prices across all of them in one place is what is really epic.
I also love the PAY function of their API. Accept ANY ERC20 token on your product and have it show up in your wallet as a token of your choosing. Super simple, clean and how the future of money should look.
Can you walk us through the process of launching your own exchange from scratch using the plug-in? How does the plug-in work?
It was actually easier than I thought it would be. Essentially I had to relearn some PHP basics and it was just a few levels harder than cutting and pasting Totle’s code, but making it many, many steps simpler for the average content creator that is not technical.
I had it built in a day or two, but it was important to me to get it through the WordPress.org approval process so it would be in the official plugin directory for easy updating and maximum exposure to people outside of our DeFi bubble. In that time I customized it further to allow anyone to collect their own fees and optimized it.
It works insanely simply. You install it (just a couple clicks since it’s in the directory) and then you type [wpdex] anywhere on your site and you have an exchange! I created tutorials on wpcryptoexchange.com to teach people how to customize the plugin and collect fees if they want to get fancy.
Does use of the plug-in come with the same liabilities as running an actual exchange?
No…you really don’t have your own exchange in that sense…it’s non-custodial, and it routes the trades to the best existing decentralized exchanges. It’s how it should be.
You’re bringing the customer, existing exchanges do the work, you get your fee (if you want) and the user never leaves your site and never deposits their crypto ANYWHERE. Totle is also protected by Quantstamp so you have some protection from bugs, etc…
Does the plug-in create any additional responsibilities for sites using it?
No, but I think everyone should be responsible in educating the public and exercising caution.
How does the holding company of the plug-in plan to monetize it?
Nope…there is no holding company for this. It’s open-sourced and anyone that wants to extend it or improve it can reach out and help me do it. 🙂
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