Kazakhstan’s Liberal Environment Has Potential to Create Unicorns, Says Tim Draper

ASTANA – A leading American venture capitalist and co-founder of Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and Draper University Tim Draper commended Kazakhstan’s political freedom as an important step towards fostering creativity and business development, during a press briefing on the sidelines of the Digital Bridge international forum on Oct. 13.

Tim Draper. Photo credit: astanatimes.com.

“In Kazakhstan, I’m seeing great freedom. I’m seeing smiles from everybody. This place is starting to hop. I think creativity is going to flow. I think we’re gonna see a lot of great entrepreneurs coming out of Kazakhstan. And I think this is going to be one of the hotbeds. It will take maybe a decade. But you know, we’re hoping to find the next unicorn here. And once you find that one unicorn, all the money comes to that country,” he said.

Draper stressed the importance of freedom and a strong leader for the country to thrive.

“I think people globally need more freedom. I think weak leaders are the ones who try to control everybody and tell them all what to do. The strong leaders are the ones who trust people and set them free,” he said.

He described the President of Kazakhstan as a “strong leader.”

“One who’s willing to say ‘I don’t need to be the president for life, I am just going to be here for seven years.’ He is a strong leader because he is trusting people, setting them free. He’s creating the beginnings of a democracy. This is going to be a really exciting place to be,” he added.

Freedom will also have a positive impact on entrepreneurship and the creative industry.

“Freedom gives you the expanse, the ability to create and to imagine a new world, a better world, a better consumer experience, a better way of living, a better health. All those things happen because of freedom. When you don’t have freedom, you’re constrained and you can’t think outside of the box. You’re stuck in a box. That has been the case in too many countries. And fortunately, here in Kazakhstan, it’s all opening up,” Draper said.

When asked about his investment plans in Kazakhstan, Draper said that he is excited about investment opportunities in the country.

“I have some entrepreneurs in mind and yes, I do believe that we will be investing in many Kazakhstan entrepreneurs. I sure hope so. I’ve seen a lot of really interesting companies here. Some are on ‘Meet the Drapers,’ our show, some are coming to Draper University or have gone to Draper University and have become heroes. We’re very excited about what we’re seeing in Kazakhstan,” he said.

The partnership between Kazakhstan and SpaceX to provide 2,000 rural schools with the internet also caught the attention of the venture capitalist.  “I also loved hearing more about Starlink. I’m an investor in SpaceX. I’m pretty excited about what it’s going to do for all the rural people here,” he said.

As a supporter of bitcoin, Draper said that integrating cryptocurrency into Kazakhstan’s economy could assist the country by facilitating simple and transparent transaction records.

“I think what’s great about bitcoin, in particular, is that it keeps perfect records on the blockchain. I could imagine, all businesses working in a wallet garden, all in bitcoin, where they’re paying their taxes in bitcoin, all the accounting is done in bitcoin. And it can be very simple. It can streamline the whole process, all of commerce, and you won’t need the accountant, the auditor, the bookkeeper, the transfer agent, the tax lawyer, because the system is all automatically done on the blockchain. It keeps honest books, it pays the right people and moves to the right place,” he said.

As artificial intelligence (AI) is gaining momentum globally, the question of regulation has been brought up. According to Draper, to spur the development of AI and to maximize its potential economic benefits, it should be “set free.”

“I don’t really feel as though we need to regulate AI. I think we ought to set it free and see if there are some things that happen that go against people. And if they go against people, that’s when you need to regulate,” he said.

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