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How LinkedIn Founder’s Book, Blitzscaled, Inspired a Cryptocurrency Start-up

How LinkedIn Founder’s Book, Blitzscaled, Inspired a Cryptocurrency Start-up

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South China Morning Post | 2020/07/09

  • Michael Wu, founder and CEO of Amber Group, says Reid Hoffman’s book changed his life and influenced his company

  • Blitzscaling echoes Wu’s sense of urgency, ‘that if we don’t solve problems fast enough we’ll stop growing’

Michael Wu, founder and CEO of cryptocurrency finance firm Amber Group. Photo: Handout

Michael Wu, founder and CEO of cryptocurrency finance firm Amber Group. Photo: Handout


Blitzscaling (2018), by LinkedIn co-founder and venture capitalist Reid Hoffman and entrepreneur Chris Yeh, advocates a technology-driven, hyper-fast growth strategy, popular in California’s Silicon Valley, that prioritises speed over efficiency in order to dominate winner-takes-all markets. Michael Wu, founder and CEO of Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency finance start-up Amber Group, explains how it changed his life.


I only recently read it. We just got our series-A funding, and it was recom­mended by our lead investor. Our chief technology officer, Thomas Zhu, read it before me, and he said to me, “You should read it” – we call it the Amber Reading Club. He felt a lot of things the book talks about match things we’re going through as a young start-up.


One of the things I had to give up when I decided to become an entrepreneur was my reading time – it became a luxury. I used to read a lot. This kind of book is a good excuse; it’s relevant to what we do.


The authors are both entertaining writers, and there are a lot of good metaphors and analogies. One of my favourites is: launching a start-up is like jumping off a cliff first, and then trying to assemble a plane as you’re falling. That echoes what we feel. We’ve always felt that sense of urgency; that if we don’t solve problems fast enough, we’ll stop growing.



Another good metaphor is that as a start-up you go from a family to a tribe to a village to a city to a country. Headcount-wise, we’re now at about 120 people. I realised that instead of being a village, we were still acting like a tribe. We needed to be flatter, more flexible and more adaptable as a company.


The message of the book is applicable to us. With tech companies, there’s always going to be first-mover advantage. Cryptocurrency is a fast industry – it crammed what took traditional finance 30 to 50 years into just a few years. So speed is everything. We think we know how the space will eventually look, and everyone’s racing towards it; whoever gets there first will have a tremendous edge, and the market will become very big.


Our company has grown in unexpect­ed ways. We were just guys who wanted to apply more AI stuff to the business of trading, and then we found ourselves in the crypto niche. We’ve been expanding a lot faster than we were expecting. It’s happened in an organic way, but along with growth there are always problems.


Our next stage is exponential growth, and we have a lot to learn. It’s just the beginning of our journey, but this book has added a lot of knowledge to that. I read it at the right time; these things happen for a reason.


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