Jez San has been a pioneer in games, online gambling, and crytocurrency. And his latest startup, FunFair, allows him to combine all of those passions at once.
San believes the future of games and online gambling lies in Ethereum, a cryptocurrency that distributes itself across many computers in what is called a blockchain. Similar to Bitcoin, Ethereum has become a hot platform for secure and transparent trading. But Ethereum is different from Bitcoin because you can build software programs (dubbed Smart Contracts) on top of it, and San’s new company uses Smart Contracts to build online casino games on top of Ethereum.
San has raised $26 million via an initial coin offering (ICO), as pre-sale event for the Singapore-based company. He was able to do that in part because of his rich history in tech and games, where he has been immersed since the 1970s. He founded Argonaut Games (1982-2006), an early video game company that started with games for the Commodore 64 and Amiga and then moved on to making titles like Star Fox and Malice. In 2002, San received the honor of officer of the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to computer games.
He has also had a career in online gambling. A decade ago, he founded PKR.com, a real-money gambling online poker game room with 3D avatars. He started that in 2004 and he left in 2006. The audience grew to more than 5 million users, and San tried to keep investing in the company. But online poker became an increasingly tough business and PKR.com finally shut down in May.
But San believes FunFair has a shot to provide a platform for Ethereum casino games for companies with gambling licenses. Programs that run on Ethereum’s Smart Contracts can be slow, but FunFair has architected a platform for fast games. Those games can use Ethereum’s transparent random number generators to create fair games. And since the blockchain ensures secure and transparent trading, players don’t have to...