Is your business ready for crypto? Source: Unsplash/Executium

Harvard Business Review

Case study: Is it time for all businesses to embrace crypto?

Harvard Business Review
12 minute Read

The phone buzzed on the nightstand — once, twice, three times — waking Ankit Jain from what had been a restful sleep. Before he could reach the phone, three more texts came through. He knew who it would be: his boss, Thorsten Konig, the CEO of Ivory Tower, the world’s leading online education platform.

In Sun Valley talking crypto. It’s time. Payments + investment. How fast can we do it? Pls call ASAP to discuss. Bring in Shira and Paul.

Ankit sighed. Thorsten was a brilliant technologist who had started and sold DayTradz, one of the first online retail trading platforms, before he was even 30. Ivory Tower was his second, also hugely successful, venture — one that was disrupting higher education by offering high-quality college and graduate-school courses to students around the world. Some, such as the intro to economics class taught by a Nobel Prize winner donating his time, were extremely affordable, while others, such as classes on personal branding with Kris Jenner and on M&A with Carl Icahn, were obscenely expensive. The idea was to have the platform’s wealthiest users subsidize its poorest. The impact Ivory Tower had achieved in the five years since its launch — and in the 13 months since its IPO — was amazing. But sometimes being the CFO of a fast-moving company led by a “crazy genius” was exhausting.

For months now Thorsten had been talking about integrating cryptocurrency into the business. He was a huge proponent of Bitcoin and had put about 5% of his own portfolio into it. Several weeks ago the CEO had asked Ankit to have his team look into accepting tuition payments and keeping some of Ivory Tower’s cash reserves in crypto. In media interviews, Thorsten had also started alluding to “our crypto future,” sparking speculation that he would build or buy a crypto trading platform. But Ankit knew that Thorsten was committed to Ivory Tower for at least the next few years; he just wanted to combine it with his new passion.

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