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.



USV TEAM POSTS:

Bethany Crystal — November 2, 2018
Listening vs. sharing

Albert Wenger — November 1, 2018
Uncertainty Wednesday: Thinking about Ruin

Bethany Crystal — November 1, 2018
31 days of blogging

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

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Video Of The Week: Coinbase’s Vision

Fortune recently did a big profile on Brian Armstrong, founder and CEO of our portfolio company Coinbase and in concert with that, they made this video featuring Brian and Emilie Choi, who leads corp dev, M&A, and a few other strategic efforts at Coinbase.

It’s a short video, less than five mins, and does a nice job of explaining the company’s mission and strategy.



USV TEAM POSTS:

Bethany Crystal — October 20, 2018
Meeting in the middle

Bethany Crystal — October 19, 2018
That special something

Bethany Crystal — October 18, 2018
Theatre talk-backs

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

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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

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Cloudflare’s IPFS Gateway

This post is jam-packed with conflicts. It is about not one, but two, of USV’s portfolio companies. The more the better in my view.

Our portfolio company Cloudflare announced yesterday that they have launched an IPFS Gateway.

IPFS is an open protocol built and supported by our portfolio company Protocol Labs that facilitates a peer-to-peer file system composed of thousands of computers around the world, each of which stores files on behalf of the network.

So why is this a big deal?

Well, here are a few reasons. You can all add more in the comments.

1/ Cloudflare is a massively scaled infrastructure company. By offering a hosted IPFS gateway, none of us need to download and run IPFS software on our computers anymore. Cloudflare will do it for us.

2/ IPFS is awesome. It decentralizes file hosting, which has historically been a centralized affair on the internet. The Cloudflare

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Video Of The Week: Brian Armstrong at Disrupt

There is a narrative in crypto land that you are either in the “crypto is money” camp or the “crypto is tech” camp. This blog post from Erik Torenberg sums that up pretty nicely.

The interview below is from TechCrunch Disrupt a week or so ago. Brian Armstrong, founder and CEO of our portfolio company Coinbase, was interviewed by Fitz Tepper.

There are a couple points in this interview where Brian is presented with a version of that narrative. For example Fitz asked Brian “are you a tech company or a finance company.”

I like how Brian acknowledges that framework but ultimately concludes that the answer is neither, that Coinbase is a crypto company and that crypto is both tech and money.

I am of that view as well and I am glad to see leaders in the crypto sector articulating it.

Stablecoins Galore

Several big announcements this morning: Gemini, headed by the Winklevoss twins, announced that they had received approval to issue its first cryptocurrency, a stablecoin called the Gemini Dollar (“GD”). Designed to facilitate the use of cryptocurrency as a medium of exchange, each GD will be backed by a US dollar, “in order to give it the stability of the fiat currency and the speed and borderless nature of a cryptocurrency”. Notable in this announcement is a partnership with State Street Bank, which will hold the cash deposit account tied to the GD. Gemini also acquired a crypto custody patent last week (link here).

Over the past year, several stablecoin projects have raised capital including Basis, Reserve and Carbon. Also announced today by itBit (the 50th largest crypto exchange in the world): a stablecoin initiative and related regulatory approval. In last week’s newsletter, I linked to the funding announcement for Continue reading "Stablecoins Galore"

Crypto On Campus

Our portfolio company Coinbase partnered with Qriously to study the adoption of blockchain and crypto on campuses around the world.

They published their findings on the Coinbase blog yesterday.

Here are some interesting findings:

Stanford, Cornell, and Penn lead the way in the number of crypto and blockchain courses offered to students.

Blockchain and crypto courses are taught by math, science, business, finance, and social sciences departments.

 

Almost 20% of surveyed students own crypto assets and 26% want to take a course on crypto.

You can read the entire report here.

VNX launches a blockchain platform to democratize the VC industry


As the blockchain technology space matures, we‘re seeing an increasing number of platforms designed to help traditional markets tokenize, decentralize, and take advantage of distributed ledgers. VNX Exchange is now launching a European digital asset marketplace aimed at bringing liquidity to the $620 billion global venture capital industry. It has…Read More

Crypto, Identity & the Need for Self-Sovereignty

Last week I wrote about how geopolitics can impact demand for public blockchain cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. Cryptocurrency can serve as a (relatively) stable store of value when local currencies are devalued or taken out of circulation – most recently witnessed in Turkey.
In Venezuela, where citizens have flocked to bitcoin in light of hyperinflation, the government countered by announcing a state-controlled cryptocurrency called the petro. President Nicolas Maduro claimed to have raised over $700M for the oil-backed coin in February, although that account has not been verified. The petro also does not trade on any exchanges. Last Friday, he announced new economic measures as the IMF warned that Venezuela’s inflation could hit 1 million percent by the end of 2018:

Capitulation?

One of the things I have disliked the most about the crypto sector is the idea that people should “hodl” or “hold on for dear life.”

I have written many times here at AVC that one should take profits when they are available and diversify an investment portfolio.

The idea that an investor should hold on no matter what has always seemed ridiculous to me.

Now, the crypto markets are in the eighth month of a long and painful bear market and we are starting to see some signs of capitulation, particularly in the assets that went up the most last year.

Whether this is the long-awaited capitulation of the HODL crowd or not, I can’t say.

But capitulation would be a good thing for the crypto markets, releasing assets into the market that until now have been locked up by long-term holders.

Until then it is hard to get excited

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ICE Heats up the Sector

The big news this morning is that Intercontinental Exchange, parent of the New York Stock Exchange, announced the formation of a new company, Bakkt, a global platform to allow consumers and institutions to buy, hold and store digital assets. Its first use cases will be for trading and conversion of Bitcoin versus fiat currencies. Partners include Microsoft, Starbucks and BCG:

“ ‘In bringing regulated, connected infrastructure together with institutional and consumer applications for digital assets, we aim to build confidence in the asset class on a global scale, consistent with our track record of bringing transparency and trust to previously unregulated markets,’ said Jeffrey C. Sprecher, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange.

As an initial component of the Bakkt offering, Intercontinental Exchange’s U.S.-based futures exchange and clearing house plan to launch a 1-day physically delivered Bitcoin contract along with physical warehousing in November 2018, subject to CFTC Continue reading "ICE Heats up the Sector"

Kin Developer Program

Kin, the cryptocurrency launched by Kik (a USV portfolio company), recently launched a developer challenge. The challenge: build a breakout cryptocurrency-based consumer experience.

Kin is a cryptocurrency focused on driving mainstream consumer transactions. Kin envisions a world where cryptocurrencies are used by people every day.

Consumers have no problem buying coffee with dollars every day. Dollars work great for that transaction.

Kin is focused on driving daily consumer utility in the digital world. Digital value for digital goods.

So, Kin launched a program designed to incentivize developers to build consumer apps with the Kin SDK.  The incentives are described here.

Developers are invited to submit ideas by August 10th. If you’re selected, and you publish an app, and you drive a significant number of active Kin wallets, you will receive the incentives.

This is a greenfield opportunity for developers. There are all sorts of consumer use cases to be discovered. So

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Drinking From The Crypto Firehose

It is my view and our view at USV that the crypto market is in what Carlota Perez calls the installation phase.

We believe that we are still putting the pieces in place for a new technology architecture to take hold.

The “big bang” for this technology cycle was the publishing of Satoshi’s whitepaper, almost ten years ago.

But we still don’t have consensus mechanisms that can scale to transaction speeds that are typical of mainstream web apps, we don’t yet have consensus mechanisms that are energy efficient and battle-tested at scale, we don’t have an array of development tools that make building applications on this stack easy, quick, safe, and secure, we don’t have hundreds of millions of users with crypto browsers & wallets, and we don’t have all the other things that would need to be in place in order to move into the deployment phase.

But we

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