Posts from crypto

Bleeding

The Nasdaq is down almost 15% from its labor day highs.

Apple is down almost 25% in the last two months.

Facebook is down about 40% since July.

Bitcoin is down about 80% from its highs last December.

Ethereum is down about 90% from its highs in January.

All of those are examples of bleeding, if you happen to own any of them.

So what do you do?

Close out your position?

Buy the dip?

Sit on your hands?

It all depends on your fundamental views on these various investments.

Here are mine.

Apple is the easiest one for me. They aren’t going anywhere, although growth is slowing as they are close to saturating the high end of the mobile phone market. It will be a value stock at $120/share. If it gets there, load up on it.

Facebook is harder. They own some incredible assets like Instagram but the outlook there is cloudier given likely regulation and it won’t be a value stock for another $100 of losses. 

The Nasdaq is even harder. Are we in a bear market now? Or just a painful correction? A bull market that is almost ten years old feels long in the tooth and I can see the arguments for a bear market more clearly than a correction.

Bitcoin will form a bottom at some point and is a buy when it does. But where is that bottom? Probably not $4500.

Ethereum feels like the easiest one to make a bull case for right now. It is hated. Everyone has lost their shirt on it by now. Nobody other than developers want to know about it. It feels like time to start nibbling on it but not loading up on it.

But the thing to understand more broadly about what is going on right now is that big sophisticated investors are reducing their risk exposure across all asset classes and have been doing that for some time. The pace of the “risk off” trade is accelerating. Which means a flight to safety is going on. And when that is happening, you really need conviction to be buying. 

Crypto Explorers Goes On The Road

The Crypto Explorers community was seeded right here on AVC. It is a community of over 200 people who are working in the crypto sector, interested in the crypto sector, and/or are invested in the crypto sector.

They have taken five group trips to Zug Switzerland (Crypto Valley) and built friendships, learned a ton, and had some fun too.

I found out yesterday that they are going global now, with planned trips to other crypto hot spots around the world.

The next trip is in a couple weeks to Singapore on November 26-27. And spots like Korea, Hong Kong, Malta and eventually the Americas are also on the roadmap.

If you want to join this community of crypto travelers and join the trip to Singapore, you can do that here.

Video Of The Week: Ethereum 2.0

I just watched Vitalik Buterin’s keynote at Devcon 4 in Prague last week, on Halloween and on the tenth anniversary of Satoshi’s whitepaper.

In this keynote, Vitalik explains what has taken so long in getting from Ethereum 1.0 to Ethereum 2.0, what Ethereum 2.0 will include, and how we are going to get there.

It is a bit geeky, I can’t say that I understood everything, but if you own Ethereum, or if you believe that a scaled decentralized smart contract platform is important, and I can say yes to both of those emphatically, then this is worth watching. It is 30 mins long.

Video Of The Week: The USDC Stablecoin

Our portfolio company Coinbase announced this week that they will be adding the USDC Stablecoin to their various services in the coming weeks. 

This video below explains what the USDC stablecoin is and why it is important.

Engaging In Cryptonetworks

Ever since the first cryptonetwork, Bitcoin, was created, investors have had the opportunity to earn returns by engaging in the network. In Bitcoin’s case, that was done by mining the network, effectively powering it.

As the sector has grown, investors have largely turned their attention to buying and holding cryptoassets, and not that many of us are actively engaging in them.

But that is likely going to change for several reasons.

First, in proof of stake networks, asset holders will want to stake their tokens and earn the rewards of doing that, or risk being diluted/inflated. Conversely, those who do stake will earn rewards that will feel a bit like collecting interest or dividends on a bond or stock.

This technique of turning an idle asset into an incoming producing asset by engaging in the network is part of the design of many cryptonetworks and investors are going to increasingly want to do these things (staking, validating, governing, etc) to earn the rewards of that engagement.

There is another aspect to this, outlined by Tushar Jain of Multicoin earlier this week on their blog.

Tushar points out that asset holders can act with their capital to help bootstrap the network by providing storage on the Filecoin network or transcoding on the LivePeer network or creating DAIs on the Maker network.

The good news for investors is that there are a whole bunch of entrepreneurs setting up shop right now to help us do these things without each and every one of us becoming super technical about the ins and outs of each of these cryptonetworks. We will see (and are seeing) staking as a service, nodes as a service, and the like. These third parties will be like the proxy companies are in the stock markets.

I expect the custodians, like our portfolio company Coinbase, to offer many of these services, either as the provider themselves or the gateway to the third party provider, thereby making it even easier for us to engage in these networks.

It’s an exciting time to be a cryptoinvestor. A host of new cryptonetworks are starting to go live. The next 18 months will see many dreams come to fruition and with those dreams will come demands on the investors to engage instead of just hold. I am looking forward to doing that.

TxTenna Is Live

I wrote about something called TxTenna back in May. It is a way to move Bitcoin from one wallet to another without needing to be connected to the Internet.

Well TxTenna is now live and if you want to see it in action you can try it out by following the instructions here.

And here is a blog post by Richard Myers, the engineer at GoTenna (a USV portfolio company) who managed the TxTenna project in which he explains how it works and why they built it.

And for good measure, here are a few more links:

Play Store link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.samourai.txtenna … 

Github link: https://github.com/MuleTools/txTenna …

Certainly this is not a mainstream use case, but it does showcase the resiliency of decentralized systems and that is pretty neat.

Fully Diluted Market Value

When someone asks you how much of a company you own, the answer could be two very different numbers. You might own 10,000 shares and there might be 1mm shares issued and outstanding. That would suggest you own 1% of the company. And that would be correct, as of right now.

What is often not calculated in these sorts of numbers is future dilution, particularly dilution that is visible if you look closely. The most common form of future dilution that is visible are outstanding options and warrants to issue stock that have not been exercised.

Let’s say this fictional company that has 1mm shares outstanding also has a 20% unissued option pool (so 200,000 options in it), and lenders have warrants to purchase 50,000 shares.

That would be another 250,000 shares that are not issued, but will be at some point, making the “fully diluted shares outstanding” equal to 1.25mm, and your 10,000 shares now represent 0.8% of the company. That is your “fully diluted ownership.”

Nowhere is this issue more important than the crypto token sector. There are many crypto tokens trading in the market that have a relatively small amount of their total supply outstanding and the market value numbers on many of the sites that track this market are a bit misleading.

For this reason, I like the concept of “year 2050 market cap” that the site OnChainFx reports.

Take Numeraire, a token issued by our portfolio company Numerai, and a token that USV owns some of (that is a disclosure if anyone is confused).

Coinmarketcap reports Numeraire’s market cap at roughly $7mm suggesting that you could purchase 1% of Numeraire for $70k.

But by 2050, there will be a lot more Numeraire out there and as OnChainFX reports, the 2050 Market Cap is more like $110mm. It would take more like $1mm to purchase 1% of Numeraire’s total supply.

This concept of a market cap that includes future dilution is called a “Fully Diluted Market Value” and it is something investors need to be focused on when thinking about value, upside, and dilution.

The Apps=>Infrastructure=>Apps=>Infrastructure Cycle

My view has been, and is, that we are in the “infrastructure phase” of the crypto market development cycle.

To elaborate, I believe that we need better infrastructure (e.g. better base chains, better interchain interoperability, better clients, wallets and browsers) before we can see a robust application development environment and so I have stated many times that right now is a time to focus on building (and investing in) that infrastructure. That view has been the prevailing wisdom inside of USV for quite a while now.

Well a couple of our colleagues at USV decided to poke holes in that argument and spent a few weeks doing research and then writing this post.

The post is called “The Myth Of The Infrastructure Phase” and it was researched and written by Dani and Nick.

I have a feeling that this post may be headed to similar territory as Joel‘s now famous Fat Protocols post because, like that one, it takes a conventional wisdom and turns it on its head.

Dani and Nick argue that there are no distinct phases but in fact, a virtuous cycle of apps>infrastructure>apps>infrastructure that brings a new market/technology into its own.

Read the post, as this argument is well researched and well made.

However, as much as I agree with their arguments, I continue to believe that for investors, the best bets right now are infrastructure bets. It remains too hard, too expensive, and too frustrating, to build decentralized apps and the big value unlock will come when that changes. I think the returns on investment on infrastructure will be higher in the phase we are in right now. There will come a time when apps development will have a better ROI, but I do not think we are there right now.

USV has made investments in decentralized apps, like OB1 and CryptoKitties, and we will continue to do that. But our primary focus is on infrastructure right now.

Conversations Versus Interviews

I’ve been interviewed many times and while interviews are OK, what I enjoy a lot more are public conversations between two people.

Listening to two people talking as friends and peers is more enlightening to me.

My friend Chris Dixon was in NYC a few weeks ago and he came by my office and we talked about stuff for about an hour.

I told him it would be fun to do the same thing but record it and put it up online.

So I went over to the A16Z offices in NYC a few days later and we did that.

And this is an hour-long conversation between the two of us about what we are thinking about right now.

I hope you enjoy it.