What drives your career decisions?
Lifestyle? Money? Happenstance? Friends?
Curiosity + luck has consistently led the way for me.
I've found that curiosity is strong enough to help create your own luck. I've been fortunate to work in the fintech startup world for the last ~15 years.
With that context, it's understandable why my next move is a shift towards investing from operating. I've now worked at every stage company and have been through multiple exit types (acquihire, opportunistic m&a, IPO) – From day 0 (pre-seed) to a 'legacy' bank, and every stage in between. I've seen and been through a lot. But there's still so much I want to learn and do.
This move will help me do that while broadening my reach and impact on the world by supporting multiple companies instead of just one.
I'm joining Costanoa VC as a Fellow to focus on crypto and fintech. My curiosity + a little luck landed me in this fortunate position. I couldn't be more excited to join this thoughtful, successful, experienced, and curious team.
I'm even more excited to meet and support early-stage founders.
Opportunities, Problems, and Thoughts around Crypto Specifically
People often ask me questions regarding crypto resources or my crypto thesis and investment ideas.
I reply generically to most of my friends – 'when you invest often matters more than what you invest in. Just stick with quality and invest consistently for a while. Fight FOMO. And whatever you do, don't capitulate.'
But I'd love to go deeper with any of you who are building or even just thinking of building. Here are some thoughts going through my head these days:
I frequently have to remind myself and others how early it is. It's really, really early—proof of concept early. It's literally the experimentation phase still. Yes, an attempt to build an alt financial system is taking place, but it all sucks right now. Leapfrogging will happen. Explore with patience. Remain mindful of investing vs. trading vs. gambling. Maximalism will never die, and maximalism is blinding.
For example, the masses won't value decentralization for all use cases. It's not even crucial for all applications, just like blockchains aren't always necessary. Don't be dogmatic. Focus on value. The word "Web3" incites controversy. Let's focus on value creation and creating a future better than the past. Strike that balance between open-mindedness and closed, with a slight hint of naivety. Opportunities live in the middle. Independent thinkers win.
Fintech & CeFi - Helpful enablers of mass adoption
Crypto has reached cultural and institutional acceptance. "It" is more than just money now. ATH's, DeFi, and NFTs dominated 2021. Coinbase went public. We'll see media cycles about CeFi vs. TradFi as incumbents and startups aggressively converge on similar roadmaps. Corporate VC arms like Binance, Coinbase, FTX, Gemini, and Kraken will continue to be highly active, as will M&A activity. Talent is a bottleneck. Fintech, serving as just a better interface and distribution arm for banks, will soon pivot to bridging organizations and people with crypto as well.
Just raise the bar
While understandable and explicable given how early it is, the bar is currently quite low, creating massive early-stage opportunities. There's a burning need for more and better infrastructure and services for every player in the ecosystem – web3 developers, fintech startups, financial services incumbents, consumers, and 'modern organizations' (aka businesses). Custody, insurance, development tooling, auditing, education, accounting, operations, fraud, risk and compliance enablers, etc.
Take wallets, for instance. A 2021 wave of new entrants who came for NFTs will inevitably lose access to theirs over the next 2 years. We'll lose these retail participants forever. Key management aside, most wallets have been designed for holding, transferring, and swapping digital tokens. New wallets need to emerge as more use cases are born. Perhaps wallets & DeFi dashboards will converge? Perhaps wallets make bridges invisible? Perhaps "wallet" will be replaced by a new name and app that looks and functions differently than those most popular today.
The great convergence
What's a business? What's a SMB? What's a consumer? What's a retail vs. professional investor? What's a finance executive? B2b, B2c, C2c... everyone is converging. Hell, what will we call gamers in the future– SMB owner/investor? Definitions and roles are evolving.