post is part of CoinDesk’s 2019 Year in Review, a collection of 100+ op-eds,
interviews and takes on the state of blockchain and the world. Scott Army is
the founder and CEO of digital asset manager Vision Hill Group. The following
is a summary of the report: “An Institutional Take on the 2019/2020 Digital Asset Market”.
No. 1: There’s bitcoin, and then there’s everything else.
industry is currently segmented into two main categories: Bitcoin and
everything else. “Everything else” includes: Web3 innovation, Decentralized
Finance (“DeFi”), Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, smart contract
platforms, security tokens, digital identity, data privacy, gaming, enterprise
blockchain or distributed ledger technology, and much more.
Non-crypto natives are seldom aware that there are multiple blockchains. Bitcoin, by virtue of it being the first blockchain network brought into the mainstream and by being the largest digital asset by market capitalization, is often the first stop for many newcomers and likely will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
No. 2: Bitcoin is perhaps market beta, for now.
In traditional equity markets, beta is defined as a measure of volatility, or unsystematic risk an individual stock possesses relative to the systematic risk of the market as a whole. The difficulty in defining “market beta” in a space like digital assets is that there is no consensus for a market proxy like the S&P 500 or Dow Jones. Since the space is still very early in its development, and bitcoin has dominant market share (~68 percent at the time of writing), bitcoin is often viewed as the obvious choice for beta, despite the drawbacks of defining “market beta” as a single asset with idiosyncratic tendencies.
size and its institutionalization (futures, options, custody, and clear
regulatory status as a commodity), have enabled it to be an attractive first
step for allocators looking to get exposure (both long and short) to the
digital asset market, suggesting that bitcoin is perhaps positioned to be digital
asset market beta, for now.
No. 3: Despite slow conversion, substantial progress was made on growing institutional investor interest in 2019.
education, education. Blockchain
technology and digital assets represent an extraordinarily complex asset class
– one that requires a non-trivial time commitment to undergo a proper learning
curve. While handfuls of institutions have already started to invest in the
space, a very small amount of institutional capital has actually made it in
(relative to the broader institutional landscape), gauged by the size of the
asset class and the public market trading volumes. This has led many to
repeatedly ask: “when will the herd actually come?”
The reality is that
institutional investors are still learning – slowly getting comfortable – and
this process will continue to take time. Despite educational progress through 2019, some
institutions are wondering if it’s too early to be investing in this space, and
whether they can potentially get involved in investing in digital assets in the
future and still generate positive returns, but in ways that are de-risked
relative to today.
Despite a few other
challenges imposed on larger institutional allocators with respect to investing
in digital assets, true believers inside these large organizations are
emerging, and the processes for forming a digital asset strategy are either
getting started or already underway.
No. 4: Long simplicity, short complexity
Another trend we
observed emerge this year was a shift away from complexity and toward
simplicity. We saw significant growth in simple,
passive, low-cost structures to capture beta. With the lowest-friction investor
adoption focused on the largest liquid asset in the space – bitcoin – the
proliferation of single asset vehicles has increased. These private vehicles are a result of
delayed approval of an official bitcoin ETF by the SEC.
In addition to the Grayscale
Bitcoin Trust, other bitcoin-focused
products this year include the launch of Bakkt, the launch of Galaxy Digital’s two new
bitcoin funds, Fidelity’s
bitcoin product rollout, TD Ameritrade’s bitcoin trading service on Nasdaq via its brokerage platform, 3iQ’s
recent favorable ruling for a bitcoin fund and Stone Ridge Asset Management’s recent SEC approval for its NYDIG Bitcoin Strategy Fund, based on cash-settled bitcoin
We also observed a growing
institutional appetite for simpler hedge fund and venture fund structures. For
the last several years, many fundamental-focused crypto-native hedge funds
operated hybrid structures with the use of side-pockets that enabled a barbell
strategy approach to investing in both the public and private digital asset
markets. These hedge funds tend to have
longer lock-up periods – typically two or three years – and low liquidity.
While this may be attractive from an opportunistic perspective, the reality is it’s
quite complicated from an institutional perspective for reporting purposes.
No. 5: Active management’s been challenged, but differentiated sources of alpha are emerging.
For the year-to-date period ended Q3 2019, active managers were collectively up 30 percent on an absolute return basis according to our tracking of approximately 50 institutional-quality funds, compared to bitcoin being up 122 percent over the same time period.
Bitcoin’s performance this year, particularly in Q2 2019, has made it clear that its parabolic ascents challenge the ability of active managers to outperform bitcoin during the windows they occur. Active managers generally need to justify the fees they charge investors by outperforming their benchmark(s), which are often beta proxies, yet at the same time they need to avoid imprudent risk behavior that can potentially have swift and sizable negative effects on their portfolios.
Interestingly, active management performance from the beginning of 2018 consistently outperformed passively holding bitcoin (with the exception of “opportunistic” managers who also take advantage of yield and staking opportunities, as of May 2019). This is largely due to various risk management techniques used to mitigate the negative performance drawdowns experienced throughout the extended market sell-off in 2018.
Although 2019 has challenged the large-scale
success of these alpha strategies, they are nonetheless in the process of
proving themselves out through various market cycles, and we expect this to be
a growing theme in 2020.
No. 6: Token value accrual: Transitioning from subjective to objective
At the end of Q3 2019, according to dapp.com, there were 1,721 decentralized applications built on top of ethereum, with 604 of them actively used – more than any other blockchain. Ethereum also had 1.8 million total unique users, with just under 400,000 of them active – also more than any other blockchain. Yet, despite all this growing network activity, the value of ETH has remained largely flat throughout most of 2019 and is on track to end the year down approximately 10 percent at the time of writing (by comparison, BTC has nearly doubled in value over the same period). This begs the question: is ETH adequately capturing the economic value of the ethereum network’s activity, and DeFi in particular?
A new fundamental metric was introduced
earlier this year by Chris Burniske – the Network Value to Token
Value (“NVTV”) ratio – to ascertain whether the value of all assets anchored
into a platform can be greater than the value of the base platform’s asset.
The ETH NVTV ratio has steadily declined throughout the last few years. There are likely to be several reasons for this, but I think one theory summarizes it best: most applications and tokens built and issued atop ethereum may be parasitic. ETH token holders are paying for the security of all these applications and tokens, via the inflation rate that is currently given to the miners – dilution for ETH holders, but not for holders of ethereum-based tokens.
This is not a bullish or bearish
statement on ETH; rather it is an observation of early signs of network stack
value capture in the space.
No. 7: Money or not, software-powered collateral economies are here
Another trend we observed this year is a larger migration away from “cryptocurrencies” in an ideological currency (e.g., money/payment and a means of exchange) sense, and toward digital assets for financial applications and economic utility. A form of economic utility that took the stage this year is the notion of software-powered collateral economies. People generally want to hold assets with disinflationary or deflationary supply curves, because part of their promise is that they should store value well. Smart contracts enable us to program the characteristics of any asset, thus it is not irrational to assume that it’s only a matter of time until traditional collateral assets get digitized and put to economic use on blockchain networks.
benefit of digital collateral is that it can be liquid and economically
productive in its nature while at the same time serving its primary purpose (to
collateralize another asset), yet without possessing the risks of traditional
rehypothecation. If assets can be allocated for multiple purposes
simultaneously, with the risks appropriately managed, we should see more
liquidity, lower cost of borrowing, and more effective allocation of capital in
ways the traditional world may not be able to compete with.
No. 8: Network lifecycles: An established supply side meets a quiet but emerging demand side.
Supply side services in digital asset
networks are services provided by a third party to a decentralized network in
exchange for compensation allocated by that network. Examples include mining,
staking, validation, bonding, curation, node operation and more, done to help bootstrap
and grow these networks. Incentivizing the supply side is important in digital
assets to facilitate their growth early in their lifecycles, from initial fundraising
and distribution through the bootstrapping phase to eventual mainnet launches.
While there has been significant growth of this supply side of the equation in
2019 from funds, companies, and developers, the open question is how and when
demand for these services will pick up. Our view is that as developer
infrastructure continues to mature and activity begins to move “up the stack”
toward the application layer, more obvious manifestations of product-market fit
are likely to emerge with cleaner and simpler interfaces that will attract high
volumes of users in the process. In essence, it is important to build the
necessary infrastructure first (the supply side) to enable buy-in from the end
users of those services (the demand side).
No. 9: We are in the late innings of the smart contract wars.
While ethereum leads the space on adoption and moves closer to executing on its scalability initiatives, dozens of smart contract competitors fundraised in the market throughout 2018 and 2019 in an attempt to dethrone ethereum. A handful have formally launched their chains and operate in mainnet as of the end of 2019, while many others remain in testnet or have stalled in development.
been particularly interesting to observe is the accelerative pace of innovation
– not just technologically, but economically (incentive mechanisms) and
socially (community building) as well.
We expect many more smart contract competitors operating privately as of
Q4 2019 to launch their mainnets in 2020. Thus, given the incoming magnitude of
publicly observable experimentations throughout 2020, if a smart contract
platform does not launch in 2020, it is likely to become disadvantageously
positioned relative to the rest of the landscape as it relates to capturing
substantial developer mindshare and future users and creating defensible
No. 10: Product-market fit is coming, if not already here
We don’t think human and financial capital would have
continued pouring into the digital asset space in such great magnitude over the
last several years if there wasn’t a focus on solving at least one very clear
problem. The questionable sustainability of modern monetary theory is one of
them, and Ray Dalio of Bridgerwater Associates has been quite vocal about it. Big Tech centralization is another. There are also growing
global concerns related to data privacy and identity. And let’s not forget
cybersecurity. The list goes on. We are at the tip of the iceberg as it
relates to the products and applications blockchain technology enables, and mainstream users will come with growing
manifestations of product-market fit. As more time and attention gets spent on
diagnosing problems and working on solutions, the industry will begin to
achieve its full potential. Facebook’s Libra and
Twitter’s Bluesky initiative confirm that as an industry we are heading in the
A 2020 look ahead
We see 2020 shaping up to be one of the brightest years on record for the digital asset industry. To be clear, this is not a price forecast; if we exclusively measured the health of the industry from a fundamental progress perspective, by various accounts and measures we should have been in a raging bull market for the last two years, and that has not been the case. Rather, we expect 2020 to be a year of accelerated industry maturation.
Digital assets are still an emerging asset class with many quickly evolving narratives, trends, and investment strategies. It is important to note, that not all strategies are suitable for all investors. The size of allocations to each category will and should vary depending on the specific allocator’s type, risk tolerance, return expectations, liquidity needs, time horizon and other factors. What is encouraging is that as the asset class continues to grow and mature, the opacity slowly dissipates and clearly defined frameworks for evaluation will continue to emerge. This will hopefully lead to more informed investment decisions across the space. The future is bright for 2020 and beyond.
Disclosure Read More
The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.
Canada's CarbonCure to receive Climate Pledge Fund investment from Amazon – Daily Commercial News
CarbonCure Technologies of Dartmouth, N.S. has attracted more high profile financial investment, this time from a group of global high-tech companies under the banner of Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund. The Canadian company is one of five technology companies to receive the first tranche of what Amazon says is a new $2 billion venture capital initiative.
The other investment recipients announced this month by the Climate Pledge Fund include a technology company that verifies carbon capture in forests; a developer of commercialized technologies to recycle end-of-life lithium batteries into high value metals and chemicals; an EV delivery vehicle manufacturer; and a manufacturer of energy efficient motor systems for use in building infrastructure.
Amazon’s commitment confirms CarbonCure as a recognized leader in global carbon dioxide reduction (CDR).
“The fact that this investment is being led by big tech companies signals a broader change for industries and governments across the board,” CarbonCure said in a media release.
Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund partners include Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV).
BEV had previously announced its own investment in CarbonCure back in June 2019. In addition to Gates, BEV investors include Michael Bloomberg and Sir Richard Branson.
The patented CarbonCure process involves redirecting CO2 headed into the atmosphere and instead embedding it into concrete used for construction. CO2 emissions are collected from local industrial emitters, purified using the company’s technology, and injected into the concrete at the point of manufacture, after which it is transported to local project sites.
The process has a measurable, positive impact on carbon reduction.
During a recent webinar, Ryan Cialdella, vice-president of research at Ozinga, a major U.S. ready mix concrete supplier, presented performance data collected by his company as a result of using CarbonCure’s technology. The data indicated an average Global Warming Potential (GWP) reduction of 6.2 per cent due to CO2 mineralization across a variety of psi specifications.
GWP is a “measure of how much energy the emissions of one ton of greenhouse gas will absorb over a given period of time relative to equal emissions of carbon dioxide,” as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency.
In addition to removing carbon permanently from the atmosphere, CarbonCure’s CO2 compound actually strengthens the concrete mix, reducing the amount of material required to meet a project’s performance specifications. That reduction in turn offsets the bottom-line costs associated with including the CarbonCure product into the concrete manufacturing process, Ozinga executive vice-president Paul Ozinga explained during the same webinar.
CarbonCure has already gained recognition around the world and claims their technology represents 90 per cent of the current permanent carbon dioxide removal market. The company says that to date seven million cubic yards of low embodied carbon concrete have been supplied across its global network of nearly 300 producers.
The Climate Pledge Fund’s commitment is important for CarbonCure, allowing it to further accelerate its product distribution around the world, said company CEO and Co-Founder Robert Niven.
“The latest investment presents a wonderful opportunity for the global concrete industry to capitalize on the increasing demand for sustainable concrete.”
Matt Peterson, director of Amazon’s new initiatives and corporate development, explained the tech giant’s reasoning behind the creation of the $2 billion venture capital fund in a recent Axios interview.
“This all has to do with Amazon meeting its own corporate goals of being zero carbon by 2040. We are asking, ‘What does Amazon need as a company to de-carbonize?’ We are finding companies that produce those products and investing in them that way. The purpose of the Climate Pledge Fund is to put money behind companies building those solutions. It’s not just what we can do today to de-carbonize but what we can do in the future.”
It should not be forgotten, however, that Amazon is a huge, profit-driven company with investments in a variety of technologies.
“We are not doing this as a charity,” said Peterson. “This is meant to be an investment program that returns on investment.”
New report finds VC investment into climate tech growing five times faster than overall VC – TechCrunch
VC and corporate investment into climate tech grew at a faster rate than overall VC investment as a whole between 2013-2019, according to a major new report — to the tune of $60 billion of early-stage capital.
The new research by PwC (“The State of Climate Tech 2020“) found that although it’s still early days for climate tech in terms of the overall VC market (approximately 6% of total capital invested in 2019), VC investment into the space is growing at a clip: it increased from $418 million per annum in 2013 to $16.3 billion in 2019. According to the report, that is approximately three times the growth rate of VC investment into AI over the same period, and five times the average growth in VC.
The reasons are, predictably, to do with market economics. It’s quickly becoming more capitally efficient to prove and scale the technologies involved, and carbon-neutral or even carbon negative solutions have fewer costs than carbon-producing ones.
Nearly half of this venture cash ($60 billion) went to U.S. and Canadian climate tech startups ($29 billion), while China comes in second at $20 billion. The European market attracted $7 billion. The majority of investments for the U.S. and China go to mobility and transport solutions.
Climate tech startup investment in the San Francisco Bay area, at $11.7 billion, was 56% higher than its nearest rival, Shanghai, which reached $7.5 billion. Europe is more invested in renewable energy generation (predominantly photovoltaics cells) and batteries.
Celine Herweijer, global leader, Innovation & Sustainability, PwC UK, said in a statement: “The analysis shows the urgency of the opportunity, and gap to close, to support and scale innovative technologies and business models to address the climate crisis. Climate tech is a new frontier in venture investing for the 2020s.”
“Some of the technologies and solutions critical to enabling this transformation are proven and need rapid commercialization, which is why venture capital is key. It will not need trillions invested in startups to make a difference. But for the trickier technologies and markets it will need targeted support, including from governments, to make it through research and development, and the early stages beyond which capital increasingly is lining up,” she added.
The biggest drivers for growth in climate tech, according to the report, relate to mobility and transport, heavy industry, and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) capture and storage. These are followed by food, agriculture, land use, built environment, energy and climate and Earth data generation.
Anyone who reads TechCrunch will be well aware of the electric scooter and e-bike wars that have broken out in recent years. And sure enough, the report finds that investment in these micromobility startups has grown dramatically, recording a CAGR of 151%, and representing 63% $37.4 billion of all climate tech funding over the past seven years.
Azeem Azhar, senior advisor to PwC UK, founder of Exponential View, and co-author of the report, said: “The climate tech market is maturing. As a society we are seeing more entrepreneurs launch startups, more investors back them, and an increasing number of larger funding rounds for later-stage high-potential deals. But PwC’s analysis shows the ecosystem is still nascent, with key gaps in the depth and nature of funding available to founders and tricky structural hurdles for them to navigate as they scale their businesses.”
Where is the investment coming from? From a wide range of sources: traditional VC firms and venture funds specializing in sustainability, corporate investors, including energy majors, global consumer goods companies and big tech, government-backed investment firms and private equity players.
The report found that corporate venture capital (CVC) looms large in the sector, especially startups typified by high capital costs aimed at disrupting incumbent industries with high barriers to entry, such as in energy, heavy industry and transport. For mobility and transport, 30% of the climate tech deals include a CVC firm, and in energy, 32% of capital deployed came from CVCs. Overall, nearly a quarter of climate tech deals (24%) included a corporate investor.
Herweijer said: “The involvement of corporates will be key to the continued success of climate tech – both in terms of their net-zero commitments driving demand for new solutions, and their investments into commercializing innovation. It’s not just the financial means they bring, but the commercial know-how, and industry knowledge to help startups navigate how to rapidly deploy and scale new innovations into the market.”
Amongst the top 10 cities for climate tech startup investment — outside of the U.S. and China — are Berlin, London, Labege (France) and Bengaluru, India, attracting $1.3 billion, mainly across energy, agriculture and food and land use.
The sections perhaps most relevant to a TechCrunch audience occur on page 44 onwards, which shows that the climate tech market is starting to behave like the high-growth tech startup world. Where barriers existed before, such as technical risk, product risk and market risk, these are being addressed. Recognizable VC names such as Sequoia, GV, Kosler, Horizons, YC, USV are all getting involved.
And although almost 300 global companies have committed to achieving net-zero emissions before 2050, “with just ten years to reduce by half global greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 1.5C, climate tech needs a rapid injection of capital, talent and public-private support to match its potential to build and accelerate faster, bolder innovation,” added Herweijer.
How to Buy Gold for Investment for 2021 – GlobeNewswire
New York, NY, Sept. 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Financial expert Ken Poirot, who oversaw the investment of billions in client assets, shares how to buy gold and how to invest in gold for an incredible return on investment in 2021.
According to Ken Poirot’s article titled, How to Buy Gold: How to Invest in Gold, he states, “Owning physical gold is the best way to buy and invest in gold.” In this article he also reveals where to buy gold and the mistakes the average investor might make when investing in gold.
As Ken Poirot explains, “Rather than investing in physical gold, many investors attempt to pick the best gold mining stocks, ETFs, or even try the gold futures market; all these alternatives to physical gold investing could cost investors their potential return on investment.”
In contrast, Ken Poirot says, “When investing in gold, it is best to keep it simple: buy physical gold.”
Furthermore, Ken Poirot documents in his recent article, Gold: Investing in Gold?, “More and more Wall Street gold analysts are coming forward with bullish forecasts for the future price of gold…analysts say $3,000 is assured; $10,000 is likely; $20,000 is possible.” To put these predictions in perspective, today gold is trading at less than $2000 an ounce.
Just like most gold analysts, Ken Poirot has also increased his predicted future return on investment for gold as recorded in a recent press release, Money: Investing in Gold for a Huge Return on Investment in 2021.
Ken Poirot cites the global recession, the crumbling US economy, China’s looming economic collapse, and the Fed’s new willingness to let inflation rise unabated all as factors contributing to higher gold prices. For these reasons he believes investors may double their money by investing in gold over the next year.
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