Two of my favorite techniques in investing are dollar cost averaging (when buying and selling) and rebalancing.

The early stage venture capital business has dollar cost averaging built into its buying model. You build up a position over multiple rounds and years. That is a great thing. I also try to exit investments, particularly public stocks, via this technique. But when a company is sold in an M&A transaction, you generally have to sell everything at once.

In public stocks and other marketable assets, these techniques are particularly important. I believe you can spot a long term trend and ride it. But I do not believe you can spot a market bottom or top until it is in the rear view mirror. So that is why I like to average into and out of a position over time.

Rebalancing is even more important. If you have a position that has worked incredibly well and it starts to become a very large portion of your overall portfolio, it is wise to take some of that position off the table and reinvest it in other attractive assets. This gives you more diversification, which I believe is generally a good thing, and also de-risks your portfolio from a big selloff in the largest position.

The reason I mention this is that I have been rebalancing my crypto portfolio. I got into BTC early and have held a highly concentrated position in BTC for the past five years. As other crypto assets have developed enough liquidity and maturity that they become attractive holdings, I have been taking profits on my BTC portfolio and reinvesting, mostly in ETH for now. But I am also looking around at other crypto assets to start buying.

The macro thesis around crypto has been building for the last six years that I have been investing and following it. I think it is certainly time to have a diversified portfolio and start using best practices for investing in marketable assets in this sector.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Max Mersch

    Do you rebalance even when the one with the largest share/stake in your portfolio is the one you believe in the most by far?And for a more cheeky question: Which other tokens are you looking at?

    1. LIAD

      that’s a great question.having partially-rebalanced’ over the weekend out of fear rather than better options, now wish i hadn’t. btc up, all else down.

      1. fredwilson

        Don’t second guess yourself over shortly term moves. This is a long game you are playing

        1. LIAD


      2. William Mougayar

        Look at the % upside. If btc goes from 1200 to 1700 vs. another currency from 20 cents to 80 cents for example.

        1. LIAD

          that was exactly my thinking. still feels like a move from ‘safety’ to get to ‘safety’

        2. Richard

          Read Market Wizards by Jack Schwagger, hopefully before your conference. Written in the early 80s, it interviews the best traders of its time. There are critical lessons on investing that every crypto currency trader should consider.

          1. Girish Mehta

            Good book. “Some people were lucky enough to be born smart. Others were even smarter and got born lucky.” – Ed Seykota. Market Wizards.

          2. greggdourgarian

            tx for the suggestion…ordered it!

          3. William Mougayar

            Will do. Thanks

      3. Kent Karlsen

        I am sure you made a great profit. I sold ETH apx one week ago, then regret and bought back at higher price. 15% loss because of stupid behavior as human being with feelings. Now I think about the 15% loss instead of 2x profit so far. Maybe we should invest as robots.

    2. fredwilson

      Yes. We did that with Twitter several times and it was a good thing. I think it is even more important when you start drinking the Kool Aid.I am very interested in the Filecoin token that our portfolio company IPFS is working on. Hasn’t launched yet though

      1. Max Mersch

        Interesting, might have to move some Eth into newer tokens. How big is too big in your opinion (as a % of portfolio)?A lot of interesting ones launching in the coming months. Looking forward to Filecoin as well!

        1. fredwilson

          More than 60% in any crypto token feels high to me now. I am over that with BTC and this rebalancing. But I like to take my time to do it

          1. Oguz Serdar

            I’d suggest Factom (FCT) and Golem (GNT) if you’re looking for immediate re-balancing. Both look very promising.Realizing some of the gains to re-allocate on promising ICOs such as Basic Attention Token (BAT) and Tezos also makes sense in the long term.

      2. Panek

        How would you view re-balancing out of a well-performing asset vs. re-balancing using new funds (“fresh fiat”)? I suppose then it’s a question of overall portfolio but it’s hard to kill your darlings.

        1. Panek

          Rebalancing early can also trigger taxation in the U.S.

      3. jason wright

        is Filecoin still being developed? the website looks ossified. everything is ‘2014’, including the blog. ‘the lights are on, but…..

    3. Mike Cautillo

      A very interesting project is Golem, GNT which has garnered support from Polychain Capital which I believe USV has invested in. And just around the corner is Tezos which is also backed by Polychain. I think this ICO will be grand to say the least.

  2. William Mougayar

    Yup. The market liquidity that exists today within these new cryptoassets is very attractive. Start here:

    1. DJL

      This is nuts. Some of these have gone up 200% in 24 hours? This scares the heck out of my rational investing mind. (Which rarely wins anyway.)

      1. Oguz Serdar

        The pump & dump schemes are pretty much happening everyday. Those who orchestrating them (whales?) are mostly parking their gains back to Bitcoin and most recently Ethereum IMO.

        1. Vasudev Ram

          Good point. As they say, fear and greed are the biggest drivers of stock and similar markets.

        2. DJL

          So how do people pull cash out – or do the just buy more bitcoin?

      2. HarryGreenhouse

        Fred wrote it in his most recent blog. But Jack Bogle (apologize if I’m a fan-boy) has been screaming well into his upper 80’s or perhaps 90’s now to IGNORE THE NOISE!!!! If you can do that you’re ahead of the vast majority of people in business or certainly investing. Not everything is a signal or a pattern or …. sometimes the hardest thing to do is to do nothing 🙂

        1. jason wright

          “sometimes the hardest thing to do is to do nothing” – i like that. some people think that doing ‘nothing’ is ‘nothing’. it isn’t. it’s waiting for everyone else to lose patience.

  3. Pointsandfigures

    Of course, the way to make big money is increase the beta risk in your portfolio. To put that in Layman’s terms “When you gotta hunch bet a bunch”

    1. fredwilson

      In a 10x-100x asset class you don’t have to behave the same way as you behave in a 2x asset class

      1. William Mougayar

        Yup. A basket of diversification is the best approach. Not many real signals exist to warrant a rational strategy. As I said before, many of them quickly go into darkness for a long time. So it’s crap shoot really. http://startupmanagement.or

        1. Richard

          Maybe, the problem with diversification is within a early stage sector is that you multiple return at least equal to the number of coins just to break even. Think of the early auto industry (where a group of winners was essentially a guarantee), there were more than 1500 companies in the race.

      2. HarryGreenhouse

        This is a massive caveat to much of what I wrote about rebalancing.From a ‘life perspective’ when you are dealing with a 30x or 50x or 100x asset class or return you are probably going to take a lot of risk beyond a certain point for relative small marginal gains in life utility / happiness. So the risk of the downside probably dictates that you’d be quicker to rebalance at 20x or 50x because you are taking risk for financial return but not a lot of ‘life return’ I suppose.

      3. JamesHRH

        Context is the most important adult word ever.Followed by principles.And results.

  4. Sebastian Wain

    In this context it is important to differentiate between just cryptocurrency and token clones and original ones with interesting research behind. One that is worth analyzing now is DFINITY which has original consensus and scaling ideas.

  5. Simon Elliston Ball

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to rebalance effectively in a seed stage portfolio, where liquidity is limited. Would you push to create liquidity, or just wait to balance with follow rounds? Any other mechanism to adjust?

  6. Greg Kieser

    It seems ETH, BTC and other alts are becoming assets on their own, which grow and shrink in value based on their projected future utility (as they should). Yet, at times they all move in the same direction based on what seems to be irrational exuberance or irrational fear. Further, if there is a major tech issue with BTC or ETH, it seems the whole market could crater and stay that way for a long time.Are you tempted to rebalance out of crypto?

  7. Kent Karlsen

    Great reading. I prefer to invest long term 6-24 months (entering a profitable asset is usually the easiest part, but I suck at selling smart). Fred, do you have a pre-defined sell strategy (mathematically) or do you sell/rebalance with human feelings from week to week?

  8. Jason Yannos

    “The macro thesis around crypto has been building for the last six years that I have been investing and following it.”Was wondering exactly what this thesis is from your point of viewBest

  9. DJL

    Probably a dumb question – but are there mutual funds or other baskets of crypto assets that are marketed separately for non experts?

  10. Frank W. Miller

    Based on our previous discussions, I imagine you have made a handsome profit on those portions you are moving to other assets. While we may disagree on the blockchains and such for the future, you obviously saw something, took the risk, and are reaping the rewards. I wish you sincere congratulations.

  11. Oguz Serdar

    How does the process of dollar cost averaging work for the early stage venture capital business?Is it investing in all of the following rounds even if it’s a down round?

    1. ShanaC

      I’m curious about this too

      1. Richard

        It would not. Do the back of the envelope math on a portfolio of 10 companies, 2 with 10x returns, 3 break even and 5 that bust. Assuming you could rebalance once a year for 10 years add in the tax consequences and you’ll quickly see what a bust this would be.

    2. Aaron Fyke

      I think you mean, “especially” if it is a down round. If it’s a down round, as an investor, you’d want to be in on it.

      1. Oguz Serdar

        Makes sense, thanks!

  12. Richard

    I can’t see the fundemental rationale for rebalancing within a sector. Take the auto industry for example. If one were to have invested in all the auto stocks in 1915 and periodically rebalanced, one would have a suboptimal return when the fogged cleared and the 3 winners emerged.

    1. HarryGreenhouse

      But would your returns have allowed you to achieve your life goals? I don’t mean to be holistic or pretend money isn’t important, but let’s say you underperformed but made $10m instead of $50m — pretty extreme. But you still won in the game of life. And you did so with a whole lot less risk.

      1. Richard

        Yes to a degree when the rebalancing is across asset classes portfolio (stocks and bonds for example). The underperformance within a sector (within crypto for example) would be (assuming you have a winner) would be huge.

  13. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:Be aware of irrational exuberance.Trends shouldn’t be followed. Be ahead of the curve.

  14. creative group

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  15. Tom Labus

    Mr. Market will be collecting the fare for the recent run in all markets. It will be more than expected.

    1. Girish Mehta

      The VIX hit a 24-year low yesterday and Bitcoin hit a new High.Make of that what you will :-).

      1. Tom Labus

        My inner alert system is going off but could be political too

        1. Girish Mehta

          There is nothing to fear but the absence of fear itself.

  16. Mike Kijewski

    I thought you didn’t own a lot of BTC currency; just stock in companies working in the space?

  17. sigmaalgebra

    At first I thought that BTC and crypto coins would flop because they are too close to what criminals, terrorists, drug dealers, illegal importers (rum runners), and tax evaders want to use, and since the world financial system has been successful in making banking life hard for terrorists that system should also be able to make crypto coins just something for back alleys.Also there is not much for a barrier to entry; so, there can be a lot of different crypto coin systems. Further, for coin mining, there’s a chance someone will find a computationally fast way to do that, if not always in principle then often enough in practice. Besides, Intel can build a 1000 core processor as soon as very many people want them.I still believe that is the case.What I didn’t see is how long it is taking to throttle crypto and the opportunities to make money with it in the interim.

  18. Damien Tanner

    Is there a particular system you are using for rebalancing? Currently I am balanced between the top 3 by market cap, weighted by market cap.

  19. creative group

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    1. Fun guy

      you have lost all credibility, Podesta bot.

  20. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:Rebalancing our portfolio has involved the reallocation of assets to a defined makeup. This applies whether the target allocation is 50/50, 70/30 or 40/60.

  21. jason wright

    you said previously that you would not sell your bitcoin – have you glimpsed something in the fog?are you still with the ‘fat protocol, thin client’ analysis?

  22. Greg Phillips

    Did you (or anybody here) do a 1031 exchange between crypto assets? I think it could be possible based on current IRS guidance but I am wondering if anybody here has already done it successfully?

  23. Francois Royer Mireault

    Thanks for sharing your tips Fred. One article that I liked about asset diversification in the crypto sphere is this one:

  24. fried okra

    hi allany crypto currency newsletters you recommend–that advises on allocation ?Hard to keep track of them all and don’t want to put all my eggs in 1 basket….

  25. Per Hansa

    What are the tax implications of rebalancing? Do you expect to simply pay capital gains (long or short term)? The tax question with crypto is non-obvious.

  26. Per Hansa

    Bitcoin has the advantage of its returns being uncorrelated with other major asset classes, which potentially makes it worthwhile to allocate 1-3% of a portfolio to bitcoin.This paper is a bit dated, but you get the idea:”Spanning tests confirm that Bitcoin investment offers significant diversification benefits. We show that the inclusion of even a small proportion of Bitcoins, say 3%, may dramatically improve the risk-return trade-off of well-diversified portfolios.”…also:

  27. Nitin

    How about using decentralized indices for crypto, that rebalance periodically? create sector ones like computing index, data storage index and market cap indices – large, medium, small etc.