Personal Reflections on 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, I think of it as the year of validation and gratitude, personally and for so many people around the world who have been marginalized and silenced in so many different ways. A year of validation for those who have lived as minorities in a world that has valued and listened to the majority voice –the status quo, the male, the white person.

 

What happened this year was a reckoning, when collectively minorities decided to voice their experiences so that they could no longer be ignored or viewed as one-offs.  Every professional woman I know has been sexually harassed.  Many to the point of giving up on their careers.  The amount of lost talent and productivity from this is staggering to think of.

 

I was lucky – I was born to persevere and grew up with parents who told me Continue reading "Personal Reflections on 2017"

Bitcoin at $10K – The Beginning

The price of bitcoin reached $10K earlier today.  Over the years I have seen a significant change in conversations around virtual currencies (“it’s for drug dealers!”; “there’s no underlying asset!”; “it’s a fraud!” to “how do I buy bitcoin”?;“can you help me look at this ICO?”) and we are no doubt at the cusp of more widespread acceptance of the concept.  It’s important to note that a fair amount of the recent capital in the market is driven by speculation from the astronomical returns that cryptocurrencies have achieved in 2017, and a “fear of missing out” (FOMO).  True alpha returns have been difficult to achieve in the globally low interest rate environment and softening of many real estate markets, all factors that have been fuel for cryptocurrency market cap growth.  Many of these investors have not experienced the price volatility many Continue reading "Bitcoin at $10K – The Beginning"

Blockchains and Society

In July, I sat down The Falkes Group, organizers of the annual Women’s Private Equity Summit in Half Moon Bay, to talk about my fund, and how I got interested in investing in bitcoin and blockchain technology in 2013.

As we see bitcoin near $6000 (it was near $1000 in the beginning of this year), it’s important to remember that there are still many question marks on how the technology will develop, particularly as we see more cryptocurrencies come to market. The pace of growth in the blockchain sector has exceeded what those of us who got involved in 2013 (or earlier) could have predicted. I think it is a testament to pent-up demand for better mechanisms for value transfer, authentication, and security. As if on cue, Equifax recently showed us how a large, well funded company whose sole job it was to protect our data, failed at its basic Continue reading "Blockchains and Society"

Blockchains and Society

In July, I sat down The Falkes Group, organizers of the annual Women’s Private Equity Summit in Half Moon Bay, to talk about my fund, and how I got interested in investing in bitcoin and blockchain technology in 2013.

As we see bitcoin near $6000 (it was near $1000 in the beginning of this year), it’s important to remember that there are still many question marks on how the technology will develop, particularly as we see more cryptocurrencies come to market. The pace of growth in the blockchain sector has exceeded what those of us who got involved in 2013 (or earlier) could have predicted. I think it is a testament to pent-up demand for better mechanisms for value transfer, authentication, and security. As if on cue, Equifax recently showed us how a large, well funded company whose sole job it was to protect our data, failed at its basic Continue reading "Blockchains and Society"

Token Thoughts on the Blockchain Boom

The past 10 days have been heady for anyone in the cryptocurrency space.  The market cap of digital currencies increased to over $90 billion last week (a 50% increase in 7 days).  Bloomberg put together the chart below to show relative value increases in major cryptocurrencies.  
There is also a lot of buzz about ICO’s, or initial coin offerings, a new asset class of cryptocurrencies being issued in crowdsales to fund development of projects on top of Bitcoin or Ethereum (or in some cases, entirely new protocols).  I spoke at the inaugural Ethereal Summit in Brooklyn on May 19th on this topic, stating that there is undoubtedly a bubble in the market, driven by speculation.  I also said that I think these ICO’s can eventually change the world. Longer term, I believe tokens can enable a whole new ownership model, where consumers will be incentivized Continue reading "Token Thoughts on the Blockchain Boom"

Token Launch

This is not the story of another cryptocurrency coin offering, but of a product that is using a tangible, age-old form factor to manage and secure our digital and analog identities. I am pleased to announce that Future\Perfect Ventures portfolio company Tokenize has launched its latest product: Token, a ring that allows users to make payments, use public transport, log into websites, and enter our homes, cars and offices without carrying around keys or credit cards. Using advanced biometric technology and sensor detection, the ring is disabled when the user takes it off and has a battery life of 14 days on one charge.

Over the past few years as I’ve invested in the thesis of rapid decentralization, I was on the lookout for a company that represented what I call the “post smartphone” world. In the future, we will be accessing services and products through more seamless means, rather Continue reading "Token Launch"

My Talk at MIT: Beyond Finance, Considering Business and Social Impact of Blockchains

A couple of weeks ago I spoke at a conference entitled “Business of Blockchains” that the MIT Technology Review and MIT Media Lab organized in Cambridge.

One of the reasons I started investing in the blockchain space 4 years ago was the rush I got learning about the tech at my first bitcoin conference – akin to the chills I got when I first logged into the Internet in 1994, when I was deeply passionate about more equal access to education. There were some debates at the MIT conference on where we were in blockchain development vs the internet (is it 1960’s or 1990’s?). I’m not sure that this is the right way to frame it. Successful investors know when to draw inferences – but are also aware of conditions that create new opportunities. Pattern recognition is straightforward and linear– the way to recognize and invest in disruption is Continue reading "My Talk at MIT: Beyond Finance, Considering Business and Social Impact of Blockchains"

The LP Opportunity to Change Tech Culture

Over the past month, Silicon Valley has been at the forefront of many conversations outside of the technology world.  Unfortunately not for groundbreaking technology, but for rampant sexual harassment and predatory behavior. The stories outlined by a number of brave women in the NY Times last week recount investors using their power and position to proposition female founders.  Just a week before, Justin Caldbeck, founder of Binary Capital, admitted to sexually harassing a number of women who were seeking investment from his fund.  Binary Capital was dissolved within days by its investors once the extent of the allegations were revealed. While this behavior has existed in the industry for years, women are now standing up and speaking out.  For too long, too many men have taken the view that women were “reading too much” into behavior, didn’t have a “sense of humor”, or just didn’t Continue reading "The LP Opportunity to Change Tech Culture"

Hamilton & Democracy 2016

Back in January I bought tickets to go see Hamilton on Broadway, purposefully the Friday before the Presidential election.  I hoped we would be on the verge of electing our first female president.  I thought going to see the show would be a tribute to how far our country has come.  After all, what better way to celebrate the milestone than with a history-making AND historical show about the founding of our country – told via infectious hip-hop by a Latino and African American cast.  An incredible reminder of the sacrifices made, and compromises made, to get our democracy to where it is today. I could not have predicted the painful 11 months of campaigning that would ensue after I bought those tickets.  But as I watched the show Friday night, I had deep comfort in knowing that this country was on the brink many Continue reading "Hamilton & Democracy 2016"

9/11: Bravery, Luck, & Resilience

On this 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I am particularly aware of the march of time and how, as each year passes, those who study it or learn about it outnumber those that experienced that day.  The picture I posted with this blog post is one I took at the 9/11 Museum – a mosaic of people’s remembrance of the color of the sky that day.   Today I walked over to the firehouse near my office, Ladder 20, on Lafayette Street. They had opened it up to the public and were hosting breakfast/brunch. Firefighters from the memorial service were just starting to make their way back. It was a somber, but hopeful, scene. So many young children were there, fascinated by the fire engines and uniforms. There was so much life and laughter in there, so different from the chaos 15 years ago.   When I Continue reading "9/11: Bravery, Luck, & Resilience"

How The Blockchain Can Unshackle Us

Once every 20 years or so, new technology comes to market that has the potential to change how we communicate, how we do business, and pushes the boundaries of everything we thought was possible. In the 1970’s it was the personal computer; in the mid-1990’s, the commercial Internet.

We are now in the early stages of another major technological development called the blockchain. The “blockchain” is a distributed consensus system that allows transactions, or other data, to be securely stored and verified without any centralized authority. All transactions are part of a chain, verified in blocks via different nodes in the network (hence…the blockchain) – through mathematical algorithms which ensure that transactions cannot be tampered with once they are recorded. The transactions are stored on a global ledger (which is why the concept is often referred to as a distributed ledger). While banks are currently testing out the technology for Continue reading "How The Blockchain Can Unshackle Us"

How The Blockchain Can Unshackle Us

Once every 20 years or so, new technology comes to market that has the potential to change how we communicate, how we do business, and pushes the boundaries of everything we thought was possible. In the 1970’s it was the personal computer; in the mid-1990’s, the commercial Internet.

We are now in the early stages of another major technological development called the blockchain. The “blockchain” is a distributed consensus system that allows transactions, or other data, to be securely stored and verified without any centralized authority. All transactions are part of a chain, verified in blocks via different nodes in the network (hence…the blockchain) – through mathematical algorithms which ensure that transactions cannot be tampered with once they are recorded. The transactions are stored on a global ledger (which is why the concept is often referred to as a distributed ledger). While banks are currently testing out the technology for Continue reading "How The Blockchain Can Unshackle Us"

Leapfrogging into the Future

We live in strange times, and sometimes it seems that the world is spinning backwards. Donald Trump is a leading presidential contender and the North Pole saw December temperatures rise above freezing without any sunlight.   As every year comes to an end, I marvel at all of the unexpected twists and turns of the year.   One of my favorite parts of my job is interacting with brilliant people around the world –while speaking, emailing or via my blog. In a year of fascinating conversations, a few stood out. One such conversation was with a doctor from Burma. He approached me after I spoke about the potential of bitcoin and blockchain (at Summit Series’ Summit at Sea). He was intrigued by what this distributed infrastructure could mean for his work in Burma. We discussed how Burma is now the first “smartphone only” country in the world.   When speaking Continue reading "Leapfrogging into the Future"