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“Just buy sandpaper”: Cricketer Michael Clarke slammed for endorsing local cryptocurrency startup

Dominic Powell /

Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke. Source: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Well-known former Australian cricketer Michael Clarke has been roasted online after lending his endorsement to a Brisbane-based cryptocurrency company, with experts saying the alignment makes no sense.

The former Aussie cricket team captain shot out a tweet two days ago with a link to local crypto startup Global Tech with the message: “Exciting times ahead”. Global Tech is a blockchain startup based out of Brisbane, which is looking to raise between $10 million and $50 million to create a part social network, part cryptocurrency exchange.

Connected with the tweet was an image of Clarke and a quote from him spruiking the startup, saying: “I am really excited to be involved with Global Tech. Their ambition and drive is something that I resonated with straight away and I can’t wait to learn more about blockchain technologies”.

Since announcing his endorsement, Clarke has been slammed by commentators and fans, with numerous replies to the tweet questioning why the former cricket captain would risk his reputation on an unproven initial coin offering (ICO), given many ICOs have failed or collapsed in recent times.

One such tweet was from prominent investor John Hempton, who suggested Clarke buy sandpaper instead in a reference to to the recent Australian cricket scandal where members of the national team were found to be using pieces of sandpaper to scuff the game ball prior to play.

“Suggest Mr Clarke you just buy sandpaper. It will do less damage to your reputation,” Hempton tweeted.

Celebrities endorsing ICOs isn’t a new concept internationally, although few have emerged for local coin offerings. One infamous example is the now-defunct Centra project, which nabbed endorsement from celebrities such as Floyd Mayweather before the founders were charged for fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Similarly, Paris Hilton-backed LydianCoin has also faced intense scrutiny, with Hilton since distancing herself from the project.

It’s unknown how much Clarke received for his endorsement, but the Global Tech website states ambassadors (of which Clarke is the only one) will receive four percent of ICO funds, which is two percent more than the project’s advisors and one percent more than its legal costs.

This means if the ICO raises its minimum cap of $10 million, Clarke will receive $400,000 in cryptocurrency. If it raises the full $50 million, Clarke will receive $2 million.

So far the company has raised 8.3% of its $50 million target, or $4.15 million.

“Nothing to do” with blockchain

Speaking to SmartCompany, CanYa founder JP Thorbjornsen said the endorsement made no sense to him and in fact, lowered his respect for both Clarke and Global Tech.

Thorbjornsen’s company raised $12 million earlier this year in one of Australia’s most successful ICOs, with the money going towards establishing the CanYa crypto-based freelance services marketplace.

“As far as I understand Michael Clarke has nothing to do with blockchain tech. If he was endorsing new cricket tech it would make sense and I’d respect that, but endorsing an exchange with a shit website is definitely pushing it for me,” he says.

“I think he’s out of his depth here.”

Thorbjornsen says he’s wary in general of celebrities endorsing crypto projects, and views the tactic as a poor marketing strategy for crypto projects. Instead, he recommends crypto startups focus on building a working product.

“It’s just marketing hype before they have any products in development. If Global Tech wanted to assure a contributor of their ability to roll out a product and deliver, there should be a live exchange I could trade on, instead of spending money to get this endorsement,” he says.

“Michael Clarke has now pinned his tech entrance on Global Tech, and if they go under or get called out he’ll be left smeared. It’s a bit different to running an ad for a shoe or male perfume, it’s much higher risk.”

SmartCompany contacted Clarke and Global Tech but did not receive any responses prior to publication.

NOW READ: Crypto’s grisly underbelly: CanYa develops own accounting software after finding itself in a compliance “hole”

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the features and profiles editor at SmartCompany.

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