iCash Prepares for Launch by Will McDonough, and He’s Supported by Tom Brady, Gary Cohn, and Marc Lasry
Will McDonough has recently started working on his own startup called iCash, which had its own initial coin offering (ICO) in last month. They have already been backed by many players in the financial world, like 1 Confirmation Fund, which is an investment firm born out of a collaboration between Peter Thiel, Marc Andreessen, and Mark Cuban. He also has the support of BlockTower, a hedge fun from Matthew Goetz.
Back in January 2005, Will McDonough was just a 25-year old with big dreams at a celebrity gold tournament for Michael Jordan. He had a seat at a table with big names, like Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Alex Rodriguez, Bill Clinton, Gary Cohn, and Marc Lasry, at a Japanese restaurant. He used the opportunity as a way to get him in a position on Wall Street, which McDonough says is “still not lost on me how pretty damn cool that is.”
Even with his success, he still has not gotten used to the discussions about himself, apart from the new startup. Due to his associations, the interviews he used to participate in were about his famous former bosses, like Brady and Cohn. However, with the potential of his iCash platform to succeed, he will be talking a lot more. Cohn has said,
“He’s acutely aware of where he is, that he’s out on a frontier and he’s aware that this could be a huge success. But with opportunity for success comes risk of failure. He is not naively involved. He’s very much in the world of reality, what could or couldn’t be the outcomes.”
An Interesting Resume From Impressive Connections
McDonough has not had the most traditional path to success, considering that he does not have the same education or resume as others in the business. Instead, his start was when he became the manager for Tom Brady, a result of a years-long friendship that earned him the trust of the football star. Former All-Pro Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel said, “We’d see Will around Foxborough, he’d say,
‘Hey, you need help with anything? Do you want to get into this bar, or this club?’ – you just start to trust him over the course of time as a guy who was really looking to help.”
Once McDonough wanted to get out of sports management, he was invited by Lasry to work at Avenue Capital. Of the decision, Lasry said,
“We ended up putting him in business development, and it turned out to be a great decision on our end. For a kid who had not been in finance he’s done really well.”
McDonough managed to meet Cohn, who was the president of Goldman Sachs at the time. Eventually, that relationship evolved into working as the Vice President at Goldman Sachs, during which time he closed a deal as Facebook’s IPO.
McDonough was responsible for ensuring that these investments were diverse, which led him to interests in Africa. A world Bank executive saw this opportunity, and they approached McDonough to use a “special purpose acquisition company” (SPAC) to purchase banks in the area. Since Goldman was not interested in the bank at the time, McDonough left in 2013 to go after it. Created the Atlas Mara with Bob Diamond and Arnold Ekpe, which was later added to the London Stock Exchange. He left after the IPO, though he regrets this move now, even though it is now years later, saying
That’s been the biggest lesson learned — you need to be control of a project you pitch, you can’t leave that subject to outside things you can’t control. All you have is your word.”
McDonough And Blockchain
McDonough advised friends against getting involved with Bitcoin in 2013, and this is another one of his big regrets.
“I felt bad I shouldn’t have just written it off — people tend to listen to me, and I gave him a perspective hadn’t done much research on. I called my friend back two weeks later and said I was wrong,”
The actual potential he saw in the industry was less about cryptocurrency, and more about blockchain. He started learning about the different aspects of the tech, including details about smart contracts and even why big institutions were resistant to the idea.
He sees that there are both good and bad aspects, saying, “There’s no layer that allows for assurance that the inputs are accurate.” With iCash, he said that there is a layer of code that basically double-checks with the user to make sure they are certain about the transaction they have initiated.
The ICO And The Potential Of iCash
Right now, iCash is preparing for their ICO, which is a technique that many cryptocurrency ventures have used to raise funds. In fact, the last year alone has raked in over $12 billion for the industry. A managing partner of iCash from Union Venture Squares, Albert Wenger, has said,
Either you develop one of those winning protocols or you don't, in which case your value will probably be zero. In this particular field, the stuff that actually works will float to the top, it might take a while.
Despite any concern, McDonough realized that he is betting his career on this venture, hoping that it pans out. “I’ve measured three times over, I’ve gone deep and put the time in to really understand the underlying technology,” he said. “Trust is the most important thing you have to return — people know that if I’m putting something in front of them, it’s something I’ve vetted,” he said.