One would be hard-pressed to find a more thoroughly international phenomenon than the borderless nature of Bitcoin, so it is fitting that it also attracts people for whom internationalism is not only a core value, but a mark of their personal identity. Meaning people like Fabio Federici, he of the musical-sounding name, who took a hot idea in hand to create a Bitcoin-related company, and leveraging an international, multi-lingual background into a kind of personal melting pot that makes him truly a citizen of the world.
Federici, a 25-year-old wunderkind CEO of the Bitcoin blockchain intelligence company Coinalytics, was born in Switzerland to an Italian father and a Spanish mother. He earned an undergraduate degree in Germany, did graduate work in Spain and Switzerland, attended an entrepreneurship school in Belgium, won “Most Innovative Idea” honors at a German “start-up weekend,” and got a recent major round of funding from the U.S., where he launched “Coinalytics” in Palo Alto, smack in the American tech heartland, with co-founders James Edwards and Bill Gleim.
Not coincidentally, he writes and speaks fluent German, English, Spanish and Italian, with much more than a smattering of French thrown in for good measure.
One other language in which he shows exceptional facility: Bitcoin, and all the specialized engineering vocabulary that it requires as Federici goes about his self-appointed task of helping it change the world.
“We’re entering a new paradigm with Bitcoin as the world’s first open financial network,” he says. “It’s very exciting to be part of this growing industry, and to be able to play a role in something I think will become as big a thing as the Internet itself.”
Federici plans to use the multiple tools of Coinalytics to “analyze transactions so that people can better understand what’s happening on the blockchain.” Despite the transparency of Bitcoin transactions on the public ledger, the parties behind them remain pseudonymous. Coinalytics analyzes data on those transactions for a variety of purposes, the most basic one being to detect potential risks, such as money laundering and problems in compliance with reporting requirements among various nations. Additional applications include providing clients with business and operational intelligence.
“What we do requires a very robust infrastructure combined with machine learning to better capture metadata about each transaction,” Federici says. “As we continue to build that out, we are able to derive more and more intelligence that leads to actionable insights. We’re helping companies do business globally in a way that leaves them less naked and vulnerable in the marketplace.”
Federici caught wind of Bitcoin early in 2013 when he was still in school in Madrid. “My career path was leading me toward product management, but I realized I’d have to ramp up my technical know-how and skills,” he says. That’s when he signed up for an online course in “startup engineering” with Stanford Professor Ballaji Srinivasan, who, among numerous other dazzling career interests and accomplishments, has a passion for Bitcoin, which Federici readily absorbed.
”We’re helping companies do business globally in a way that leaves them less naked and vulnerable in the marketplace.”
“He did an entire section on Bitcoin and sent out the Satoshi white paper. I had done some programming, but my focus had been digital and online marketing. I decided right then to understand the technology and cryptography behind Satoshi’s paper in a lot more detail. That got me down the rabbit hole, and the potential applications seemed very powerful to me.”
How powerful? “Six months later, I decided I wanted to be part of the Bitcoin world. I went to a ‘startup weekend’ for entrepreneurs in Berlin so I could meet people and get involved. I got placed into a three-person group, and together we came up with the basic idea for Coinalytics. It was literally born that weekend.”
The notion got some immediate legs under it by winning “Most Innovative Idea” to emerge from that weekend, which compelled Federici to inject some seed money into the venture, followed by more from his family, still more from the “500 Startups” accelerator program, and just recently, a tidy $1 million dose of inspiration and affirmation from noted venture capital firm The Hive.
All the while, Federici has continued to seek and profit from the counsel of his father, an electrical engineer and longtime CEO himself in the semi-conductor industry. “I think I incorporated my dad’s DNA and mindset,” he says. “I have a number of trusted advisors and mentors, but he’s still my first source of advice.”
So: humble (and mature) enough to continue seeking his father’s counsel. Adventurous enough to go overseas to launch a global company at an age when many of his peers find it a challenge just leaving their childhood bedrooms. And now, both competent and inspiring enough to land serious venture capital money for the next phase of his company’s build-out.
That’s a history whose forthcoming chapters the Bitcoin world will be awaiting with great anticipation.