To many in the crypto community, Richard Heart needs no introduction. Depending on who you ask, the polarizing founder of the rapidly growing yet polemic HEX, which reached a market cap of over $3 billion as of 14 November 2020, may either elicit images of a revolutionary thought leader who seeks to eliminate third-parties and counterparty risk, or an alleged "scammer" who aims to make an easy buck off of foolhardy crypto traders. Love or hate him, there's no denying that the well-versed and contentiously candid entrepreneur has made his mark as a prolific personality in the crypto world.
Understanding the man himself would be impossible without a first understanding of HEX and the motivations behind the project. Heart's journey into crypto began in 201X when he first bought Bitcoin for $1 after coming across the cryptocurrency on Reddit. Initially attracted by the prospect of a financial system devoid of counterparty risk and the disproportionate clout held by intermediaries, Heart eventually became disillusioned by what he perceived to be a betrayal of the tenets of crypto's original principles.
"Cryptocurrency was invented to remove middlemen and counterparty risk. Yet what do these so-called crypto proponents do? They re-introduce middlemen and counterparty risk," says Heart in his usual blunt manner
While not necessarily the most diplomatic in the way he communicates his views, perhaps he has a point. Many in the crypto community, particularly those who started before the boom of 2017, point out that crypto has transformed into what it set out to disrupt: a centralized industry dominated by those who could care less about the principles of crypto and seek to capitalize on becoming unnecessary conduits. Like Heart, many have become disillusioned by the fact that crypto has transformed into yet another incarnation of mainstream finance.
It was this dissatisfaction that led Heart to conceive HEX in 2019 which, according to its website (http://hex.com), offers a way for Ethereum holders to stake their funds for a period of time in exchange for a reward in the form of HEX tokens. While the project is considered more secure than ubiquitous cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in offsetting inflation bugs and paying interest directly to buyers, HEX has been unfairly labeled as an unscrupulous scheme by many in the crypto industry due to its meteoric rise in market value that continues to this day.
"I'm in a decentralized industry designed to improve the world run by a bunch of centralized opportunists who lose everyone else's money, and yet I'm the bad guy," Heart laments. "On HEX, there is no counterparty risk, there is no spoofing. It's all on-chain and verifiable. You can see when people put in funds when they take it out, whether they gain money or lose money – it's all very transparent."
While Heart admits that the project used tactics that may be associated with scams, he purports that the negative perception that has unfortunately latched onto HEX may be attributed to a form of tribalism that has become endemic in the crypto industry. Alongside a lack of understanding of the motives behind the project, Heart points out that users' blind loyalty towards coins they are familiar with has caused them to become unwilling to open their minds to new players in the industry, causing them to call HEX a scam without considering reasons why it may not necessarily be so.
"Don't be a loser. Be productive."
While Heart has become synonymous with HEX and "gains" associated with it, it is also important to note that Heart is also a proponent of living and improving one's life given his stint as a self-help guru. In order to do that, Heart believes that truth is paramount.
"Some people don't feel comfortable telling you what better or worse looks like. I'm not that coward," he exclaims. "Leave the world better than you've found it."
Heart has stated in the past that he shares his experiences to help others live a fulfilling life. Being brought up in a school for talented students, running a multi-million dollar company, and traveling the world, he certainly has a lot to say about numerous subject matters, particularly with regard to the crypto industry. While certainly brash and even combative in his approach, Heart does bring to light concerns that have been swept under the rug – and it is perhaps his willingness to ruffle a few feathers which made him notorious in the industry in spite of his aim of steering the crypto community back to its roots.
Having said this, while Heart still retains a somewhat controversial reputation in the community, his supporters are adamant that the man truly has a "heart" of gold.