Helium founder races cars while the crypto startup is on collision course
It’s been a difficult year for crypto project Helium Network and its founder, Amir Haleem. Initially lauded as a competent startup and internet-of-things darling, it floundered this summer when it was revealed that some advertised big-name ‘partners’ — including Salesforce and Lime — weren’t actually in business with the firm.
Things have only gotten worse. In September, Forbes revealed its native token HNT was highly centralized, with insiders holding the majority of tokens. It also announced the launch of a dash-cam-based mapping network that seems to suffer from almost the exact same pyramid-like arrangement of the Helium Network.
The startup was backed by now-defunct FTX Ventures. On Monday, billionaire Bill Ackman oddly announced he liked Helium, too. He previously tweeted support for FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) while his empire was crumbling.
“You have to give [SBF] credit for his accountability here. I don’t know any of the facts, but I have never before seen a CEO take responsibility as he does here,” Ackman posted when news of its “liquidity crunch” broke. The tweet was deleted very soon after publishing.
FTX has filed for bankruptcy, with lawyer John J. Ray III taking over as CEO from SBF. In a first day declaration, Ray said he had never seen “such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information.” The lawyer famously handled Enron’s bankruptcy.
Before the FTX fallout, Helium pivoted to working with Solana to launch a crypto phone and network — its largest backer was SBF. In September, the Helium community voted to ditch its own token for Solana’s token, SOL. At the time, one SOL was worth $31. Its value has since dropped over 62%, to $11.70 at press time.
Yet somehow, amidst the turmoil, Helium’s founder has quietly decided to start his own professional racing team.
Helium founder starts Cyber Dynamics Racing, LLC
Cyber Dynamics Racing was founded in September this year. There’s little information about the LLC — the homepage is a blank screen depicting merely a logo.
A quick delve reveals the company is based in the Bay Area of California, in a modest five-bedroom, five-bathroom, five-acre luxury mansion. It sold last year for over $4 million.
The expansive mansion features a four-car garage and a “motor court,” apt for a professional motor racing company. There is, of course, a pool and putting green.
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Founding Cyber Dynamics Racing is a puzzling move, to be sure. An individual who has launched a failed crypto mesh network and is in the midst of launching a new dash-cam mapping network, with nearly $365 million and $21 million invested in each project respectively, is likely to be busy.
But venture capitalists shouldn’t be surprised: the Helium founder’s Crunchbase profile picture shows him racing a car. In a small biography, he claims to “build and race 90s Japanese sports cars.”
At least we know he’s focused on something.
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Update 18:50 UTC, Nov 22: Since publication, it has come to our attention that:
- Hivemapper (referenced in paragraph 2), while consisting of several shared team members and the same pyramid-like design as Helium, is not owned by Helium or Nova Labs.
- Nova Labs representatives insist that none of the funds raised by Helium have gone into Nova Labs. It should be noted that this doesn’t explain where the money has gone or what happened to the $365 million invested in the Helium Network.
- HNT will now be built on top of the Solana network, not entirely nixed.