Ripple is pleased to announce that Cory Johnson has joined Ripple as chief market strategist. Johnson will work closely with the rest of the executive team managing the company’s growth and telling Ripple’s story to regulators, Wall Street and global financial markets.
Few reporters have the skill set and credibility Johnson brings to the table. As an investigative journalist he’s covered organized crime, sports, the Dot Com boom and bust, the emergence of mobile and the cloud and the emergence of blockchain.
After a gig as CNBC’s first Silicon Valley correspondent, Johnson joined a San Francisco hedge fund as a long-short analyst, specializing in neglected equities. Later he became a dedicated short seller, running a large short-only portfolio for another Bay Area hedge fund. He returned to TV to help create Bloomberg West, a daily technology show on Bloomberg television.
But he’s also something of a startup guru — he is the founding editor-in-chief of SLAM magazine, helped create Vibe magazine with Quincy Jones, and was the founding reporter of theStreet.com with Jim Cramer. His latest creation was a daily, national radio show on Sirius XM station 119 called “Bloomberg Markets” which he anchored with Carol Massar.
His voice has been a trusted constant to both the tech and financial industry. We sat down with him to discuss his career and his new role here at Ripple.
Ripple: Tell us about your experience before joining Ripple.
CJ: My experience in media has been anchored around a constant theme — finding and telling the untold story. At SLAM magazine, I focused on the moment that gets people excited — the crossover dribble, for example — instead of reporting on stats and scores and dead white guys. The idea was to be inclusive of every level of the game, from the playground to the NBA.
At theStreet.com we covered companies that the mainstream press hadn’t yet discovered. At the Industry Standard we focused on little-known startups gearing up to change the world.
It was this kind of experience that brought me to Wall Street as a hedge fund portfolio manager. It was the same challenge: trying to identify deeply undervalued stocks no one was paying attention to. Or uncovering crummy companies that weren’t what they claimed to be.
Eventually Bloomberg asked me to do a tech stock TV show. Initially I declined but, instead, pitched a show to explain what tech businesses actually did, rather than merely report on stock prices. Bloomberg loved that idea and this became Bloomberg West.
Ripple: How does your experience as a reporter and a hedge fund manager translate to what you’ll do at Ripple?
CJ: I believe in Ripple and I’m convinced that the technology is real and revolutionary. But I am also convinced that a lot of blockchain-related companies and crypto projects are exaggerated. This space is confusing and over-hyped.
As the world tries to make sense of the crypto market and the role blockchain plays in it, my role is to help investors, financial institutions and regulators understand not only how XRP fits within markets but also the overall impact crypto and blockchain will have in the future.
Ripple: What predictions do you see for the blockchain and digital asset space this year?
CJ: One man’s regulation is another man’s protection. We need more investor protections and they can’t come fast enough. And I’m hopeful that regulators will see the real use cases for digital assets. As the venture capitalist Bill Tai says: blockchain is to banks as TCP/IP is to telecommunications. It’s time to bring the banking system out of the 1970s.
As a reporter covering this, I’ve seen the focus on price trump a real understanding of the differences between ICOs, digital assets and the companies that use them. The financial press needs to work harder at this.
In the Dot Com bubble, illegitimate companies — the Global Crossings and WorldComs of the world — only disappeared when the entire ecosystem collapsed. It’s that great Warren Buffett line: “You only find out who’s swimming naked when the tide goes out.”