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From Corporate Desperation to Ethereum Riches: A Journey

Sead Fadilpašić
Last updated: | 5 min read

Dan Conway, an author and a self-described “expert on crypto culture, decentralization and corporate America,” shared with the world how he bet his life savings on crypto and earned millions.

Dan Conway. Source: a screenshot, Instagram/danconwaywriter

Conway says he was an executive in a vast corporation, struggling with depression and an addiction he thought defeated. Then “Dan stumbles upon cryptocurrency, tumbling down the rabbit hole to discover a strange, anarchic, but captivating world. He decides to wager everything—his savings, his marriage, his family, his future—on the fledgling crypto, Ether (ETH),” says the synopsis of Conway’s book, ‘Confessions of a Crypto Millionaire: My Unlikely Escape from Corporate America’ published in September.

One of the three Forbs’ business books “you can’t afford to ignore” tells how, in May 2016, Conway went from his office to Wells Fargo to send USD 100,000 to New York-based cryptocurrency exchange Gemini. The writer says in the condensed version of the book published in the Hustle:

This represented my family’s entire life savings. It was money my wife and I planned to use to pay for our 3 kids’ college tuition, our eventual retirement, and emergency expenses. I was a middle-aged guy with a family who had never been on the cutting edge of anything. But I was about to bet everything I had on an unproven virtual currency called Ethereum. This could only end two ways: I’d lose everything I owned, or make a fortune.

Conway had a PR firm, Zealot Communications, focused on crypto projects, and he’s also the founder of one of the first Ethereum meetups in the San Francisco Bay Area, his website says. But before that, as he writes for the article, he was a 45-year-old middle manager at a major San Francisco multi-media company, leading a life many do – that of dissatisfaction and search for a way to escape. Though earning USD 150,000 a year, he disliked the corporate culture and its hierarchy, he says.

He wanted to tell the story of his journey as he found it interesting, not to present himself as a master of the universe who figured it all out, unlike other timid people, he said in an interview.

The door to the Cryptoworld

At the time when he and his wife were raising three kids and had a mortgage on their home, and he struggled with addiction to alcohol and drugs, Conway was sitting in his office before work, reading about the volatility of Bitcoin (BTC). It was mid-2015, and BTC fell from USD 1,200 to USD 300. And though he previously thought of putting ‘real’ money into a digital token as “bullshit,” now he suddenly wondered: “What if it goes up again? What if I put everything I had into this? I could get rich and never work another day in corporate America,” the author describes his thoughts. As is so often the case, the more he learned about crypto, the more interested in it he became.

The crypto of choice

Just around the time of Conway’s growing crypto interest, Ethereum launched in July 2015. He was excited about blockchain’s promise of a decentralized future without hierarchy, he says. “In short order, I developed an Ethereum obsession.” He consumed anything on Ethereum he could get his hands on, spending hours daily listening and reading about it. And while his tech friends were dismissive of blockchain, his “biggest source of conviction” were Ethereum’s developers, Conway says, adding that the smartest developers were going to Ethereum. Another thing, as he said in an interview with Morgan Creek Digital co-founder Anthony Pompliano, is that he knew that ETH hadn’t popped yet, since it was “a new, emerging coin.”

Occasionally, my Ethereum fever broke and I wondered if I’d gone off the deep end. Was my growing desire to invest in Ethereum a desperate attempt by a desperate man to find some kind of midlife salvation? Was this whole thing some kind of elaborate ruse to scam people like me out of their nest eggs?

Less than a year later, the Wells Fargo scene happened, and Conway owned his first 6,993 ETH, at an average price of USD 14 (it trades at c. USD 182 today).

The accompanying volatility

Yes. Crypto is volatile. And here’s a timeline of how Conway experienced it on his own skin:

  • in June 2016, Ethereum tanked
  • in December, USD 100,000 investment was worth less than USD 40,000
  • contrary to many people’s instinct at this point, Conway “decided to double down”
  • the source of funding became home equity line
  • in December he made three more increasingly larger transfers
  • he borrowed USD 200,000 on family home to buy more ETH
  • he owned 26,750 ETH, at an average buy-in of USD 11.21 per coin
  • he had USD 300,000 debt
  • in February 2017, ETH started rallying, going from USD 15 to USD 50 in March, USD 70 in April, and USD 230 in May.

“In a span of 4 months, my USD 300k investment ballooned to USD 6 million.” Worried about the constant rallies and drops, about the money he could lose, and about the safety of his coins, he became anxious, prone to mood swings, and even had panic attacks. “The coins consumed me and changed my entire persona.”

Hold and sell

ETH saw even a price of USD 400 that year, and 2,000% growth since the beginning of the year till October. When many HODLers started selling, Conway decided to keep on hodling. In December 2017, ETH shot up from USD 430 to USD 830, then it surpassed USD 1,000 in January.

If I didn’t sell and ETH tanked, I’d lose it all. I’d have to tell Eileen and the kids that dad had dropped the golden goose egg, that I’d squandered my lottery ticket.

As the price reached USD 915, over the course of two hours, Conway sold the majority of the coins he owned, 11,000 ETH, for USD 10 million.

“Nearly 2 years later, it’s still surreal looking at our bank account and seeing high 7-figures, post-tax,” he says, adding that he still believes “crypto will open up new possibilities for organizing the world in the decades ahead, and I’m confident it will pop again as a result,” but that he doesn’t recommend that anyone try to replicate what he did, as many more fail than succeed.

“I’ve since turned my efforts toward making the concept of crypto-based decentralization more accessible to the general public. My recent book, which chronicles my wild journey, encourages people to think about their own risk parameters,” Conway concludes. “Crypto no longer consumes me.”