On Saturday the Wizink Center in Madrid hosted the celebration of Metaverse Day, a massive event (gathered 7,000 to which must be added those who followed it online) dedicated to cryptocurrencies that was preceded by a very well used controversy by Mundo Crypto, the organizing company. Still yesterday, four days after the meeting, Mani Thawani, its founder and CEO, continued to incite on his social networks those who questioned the real objectives of the “world’s largest contest on crypto assets.”
Thawani knows a lot about blockchain, cryptocurrencies and the metaverse, but also about marketing. And of course he knows that, even if the channels change, the important thing is always that they talk about you. Even if it’s bad. So a little controversy never hurts to heat things up on the eve of what you hope will be your big moment. And inadvertently, the CNMV and Facua made him the fat broth.
On the one hand, the National Securities Market Commission recalled days before the event that Mundo Crypto has been on its gray list for a year, the one in which it includes entities that, without registration or authorization from the market supervisor, « they could be carrying out some type of fundraising activity or providing a service of a financial nature. In addition, it underlined that three of the sponsoring or collaborating cryptocurrency trading platforms are considered financial bars. On the other, the consumer association denounced before the General Directorate of Commerce and Consumption of the Community of Madrid that, despite announcing it as a free event, the organization demanded the collection of 47 euros (plus a commission of 2.35) to reserve the square and only had the intention of returning this deposit to those who finally attended. After the complaint, the organizers announced the change of criteria and the general return of 49.35 euros. And, between one and the other, the media that echoed both information, earning the accusation of acting under the mandate of banks and governments to discredit the cryptocurrency industry. «They prefer that young people go out on Saturday night to spend their money on alcohol and tobacco. Why will it be? Perhaps because for each pack they charge 50% tax? », The young man has come to assure.
“I haven’t had it easy”
And who is this self-proclaimed guru who claims to have amassed a fortune of more than ten million euros in just seven years? Manish Mohandas Thawani is a young man of Indian origin born in 1992 in San Bartolomé de Tirajana (Gran Canaria) and today living in Dubai who, according to his own statements, “has not had it easy.” «My brother -today his business partner- and I were orphaned very young; In a matter of days, our life changed radically, I changed schools -a British one-, debts that we did not know how to solve… At 16 years old, I have no choice but to stop studying, start working and help my mother and brother », he told last year in an interview. His first income was achieved as a clerk for Mango and Hugo Boss and as a waiter at the Subway fast food restaurant chain, until an acquaintance told him about bitcoin.
When he made his first investment (he does not say how much it was) the cryptocurrency was trading at $273. From that moment he was convinced of the potential of crypto assets. “I have always been a bit of a dreamer and quite an entrepreneur, seeing financial problems at home since I was little, I have always thought of ideas to generate wealth and not suffer those difficulties again,” he assured. «I studied hundreds of online courses for years, and in the end at 22 years old I had a competitive advantage (compared to his friends with a university degree). I didn’t have a diploma, but I had taken courses in mathematics, physics, sales, marketing… That’s where my passion for online training comes from », he explained days before the event.
Another question is what this training is really for, which he claims to have given to more than 50,000 people since 2015 and which, according to him, is the basis of his fortune since it belongs to “the maximalist geeks who do not sell their bitcoins.” After the first two editions of the event, he was accused of using the courses as a hook to recruit young people as disenchanted with traditional banking as seduced by the standard of living that gurus like Thawani show on Instagram. That is to say, willing first to pay to learn and then invest in the crypto assets for which he predicted good results in order to inflate their price. There was also someone who, before the IM Academy scandal broke out, accused him of creating a pyramid scheme in which those who convinced his friends and family to sign up for his courses were rewarded. He defends himself by assuring that training involves talking about both opportunities and risks and that the more people understand the message, the more people will gain “the freedom of their money” while he attacks by asking “where was the CNMV” when the banks sold preferred and were Afinsa and Philatelic Forum operations.
This time, the commotion has been greater and while the economists Daniel Lacalle, Juan Ramón Rallo and Pablo Gil as well as the representatives of the Government of El Salvador (the first to adopt bitcoin as legal tender) did remain in the program of the event, Playstation and Coca Cola canceled their interventions and Cristina Pedroche and Jorge Fernández gave up presenting it. “Due to media pressure, Jorge Fernández, the one from La Roulette de la Suerte, believes that playing roulette is the right thing to do, but cryptocurrencies are not, so he does not come. Christine? Either. But nothing happens, the event continues because the crypto companies will be there,” Thawani retaliated, who also called a press conference two days before the event.
There he used all his ‘Spanglish’ verbiage to clarify that his company does not need any supervision from the CNMV because it is only dedicated to teaching courses on blockchain technology and the event (whose organization had involved an outlay of two million, as he pointed out) did not intended to encourage anyone to invest despite the presence of companies dedicated to it. His only objective was to present a platform in the metaverse that will be “disruptive” both for the world of training and for that of information, since in addition to courses it will host a “decentralized” news portal. In it, those who serve as instructors or journalists will receive income based on the number of visits generated by their content, which in his opinion will guarantee their quality.
“We are sustainable. We generate revenue from training sales, instructor commissions, banner advertising, and our B2B model. I can’t reveal anything yet, but we have reached an agreement with one of the top ten blockchains to create its school and train the developers it needs for free. But, nevertheless, I have 200 employees whose parents have called this week to ask them ‘where are you’, ‘what does your company do’”, he assured, despite the fact that, according to Cinco Días, the parent company of Mundo Crypto (Grupo Mundo Blockmatica) only has six permanent employees and in 2021 it registered a turnover of 916,000 euros and a profit of 81,900.
Another of the announced objectives of Metaverse Day was to appear in the Guinness Book of Records for achieving the largest number of people connected simultaneously to an event through virtual reality. He didn’t make it. With all attendees decked out in welcome kit goggles, Wi-Fi went down and Thawani’s avatar had to dedicate his metaverse debut to apologizing for technical issues. And it was not the only failure caused by technology; Yesterday, the founder of Mundo Crypto used social networks to explain that, due to a confusion with usernames and profile photos, the winner of the Audi drawn during the event was not the one initially announced, but another of the participants. After laughingly congratulating the new owner of the car, he dedicated a laconic “I’m sorry, that’s the way things are” to the other.