BLOCKCHAIN FUND INITIAL CLOSING

 

The initial closing of Valcour Blockchain Fund was well over half of our target – done in the first three months of a twelve-month fundraise.  

 

The next close will be at the end of September.  

 

To accommodate new investors, we will have subsequent closes on December 31st and March 31st, 2022.

 

 

We believe this new fund is the most efficient way to get exposure to the blockchain asset class.  It is a continuation of the strategies we have employed for eight years across eight venture and hedge funds which have collectively generated an average IRR of 104%.

 

It has one very important benefit – the new fund is able to capture the often-large swings in value between equity and tokens.  Tokens reset quickly.  In May, tokens dropped 55% in the span of a few weeks.  On the other end of the spectrum, venture equity is very slow moving.  People are still executing term sheets from months ago.  Entrepreneurs still want the valuations they heard months ago.  It takes 6-9 months for venture to reset.  The new fund can buy liquid tokens when they are cheap.  When they become rich to venture, we can sell the liquid tokens to invest in venture and illiquid early-stage token deals. 

 

As in previous Valcour venture funds, a Co-Investment Class is offered.  Limited Partners investing $15mm or more will have the option to collectively co-invest at least 10% of each venture and early-stage token deal.

 

The summary of terms can be found here.

 

Capital calls will be at fiscal quarter ends, with 40% of commitment due at the September close, and the balance called quarterly thereafter.

 

Click the button below to begin the investment process online.

 

 

If you are interested in exploring this opportunity further, please email ir@valcourcapital.com.

 

Also, please join us for our Valcour Blockchain Fund Launch Call on October 12th at 9:00am PDT.  You can register here.

 

Valcour BLOCKCHAIN FUND :: STRATEGY OVERVIEW

 

Valcour Blockchain Fund strategy has three primary buckets of risk:  venture equity, private early-stage tokens, and liquid tokens.  

 

Valcour has been investing across the spectrum of blockchain assets since 2013.  Here is a snapshot of the effort:

 

 

Venture Equity :: By Paul Veradittakit, Partner

 

Having deployed capital into the blockchain venture capital market across three venture funds over eight years, we have established a strong reputation, allowing us to invest into many of the leading entrepreneurs in the ecosystem.

 

Following a similar strategy to Valcour Venture Fund III ($175mm fund), the venture equity sleeve of Valcour Blockchain Fund will invest approximately 40% of the capital raise in core infrastructure globally.  That would be $240mm of a $600mm fund – or just a bit larger than our last fund in 2018.  

 

Areas to invest include DeFi, institutional-grade tools, custody, insurance, marketplaces, payments, the creator economy, developer tools, and security/compliance.

 

We will continue to focus on early stage, seed and Series A but will expand to select Series B rounds.  The plan is to lead most of our initial funding rounds and take board seats, as that formula has proven to be quite successful.  

 

On top of helping with recruiting, strategy, marketing, and business development, we’ve assisted our portfolio companies on the M&A side, leading to some of the top acquisitions in the space. 

 

Early-Stage Tokens :: By Paul Veradittakit, Partner

 

Early-stage tokens are very similar to venture equity in that these projects are early stage, but the difference is that value will accrue to tokens where holders of the tokens own a piece of the protocol and get to provide governance.  The token becomes more valuable as it is used within the product, ties to other benefits, and allows for more influence on decision-making.  

 

Roughly $180mm or 30% of the target raise will be allocated to early-stage tokens, following a venture-style model.  In-line with our aim to be global investors and different from other traditional VC firms, over 50% of our early-stage token investments have been into overseas companies.  

 

Decentralized finance and marketplaces will be the primary areas of focus, but investments will span a range of use cases with large addressable markets. 

 

We target seed and Series A rounds but are open to all funding rounds before token launch.  

 

In addition to helping projects in similar ways as with our venture equity investments, we provide DeFi-related value through liquidity provisioning, governance, staking, and tokenomics. 

 

Liquid Tokens :: By Emma Rose Bienvenu, Chief of Staff

 

Given the vast universe of use cases for crypto and blockchain technologies, investing only in bitcoin would be like holding 100% GLD, and missing out on tech stocks and other high-upside bets on growth.  Valcour launched Liquid Token Fund in 2017 to invest in liquid, publicly traded tokens with uses cases beyond digital gold.  Valcour Liquid Token Fund has confirmed our thesis that active portfolio management can generate outsized returns compared to passive investments in assets like bitcoin or ethereum.  Year-to-date, Liquid Token Fund has returned 378%, versus bitcoin which is up 62% over the same timeframe.

 

Valcour’s Blockchain Fund will incorporate many of the same investment strategies we have deployed in Liquid Token Fund.  Liquid tokens are set to comprise roughly 30% of total assets in the Fund.  The new Fund will invest in 15-20 tokens at a given time, with a focus on decentralized finance protocols and the layer one blockchains that support them.  Unlike Liquid Token Fund, which allocates roughly 10% of its assets to a quantitative trading strategy, Valcour Blockchain Fund will be fully discretionary.  

 

We will select projects led by world-class teams, with strong and differentiated use cases, enthusiastic communities, and priced attractively in comparison to a fundamentals-based valuation.  Combined with an active risk management overlay that utilizes technical and on-chain indicators, we expect our liquid token investments to continue out-performing industry benchmarks across stages of the market cycle.

 

 

UPDATE ON CHINA BAN

 

In May we tweeted that investors who sell on China bans usually end up bummed.  

 

This is China’s third ban of Bitcoin.  The reverse hex is still working – the price is up 57%.

 

 

If I knew nothing about a disruptive new technology other than that China was trying to ban it – I’m buying.  

 

BITCOIN HASHRATE RECOVERING AS FORECAST

 

In our August letter we wrote:

 

Chinese policy is definitely shutting down mining in China.  Our models show that up to 56% of the change could not be explained by price alone.  56% of a 45% drop is 25% of the previous total hardware power has been shut in by policy action.

 

The fallout of this ban was a significant outside context event (p<0.00001).  

 

Command economies can shut in capacity by edict.  Not in the free world.  Bitcoin mining is hyper-competitive.  The void will be replaced – and probably very quickly.  Here we’ve graphically represented it as three months. 

 

The shaded area of shut-in mining capacity is worth $2.0 billion annually.  (25% of the $7.9bn above.)

 

That “free money” will be soaked up with mining rigs outside of China.

 

The recovery is happening exactly as forecast.  The network has already recovered 68% of the drop in the hashrate that our polynomial regression attributed to the Chinese ban.

 

 

 

Although difficult to know with certainty, it seems very likely that much of the reboot in mining power is occurring in places with cleaner energy than those utilized by Chinese miners.

 

The transition to renewables is well underway.

 

BITCOIN HALVINGS FORCE CUTS IN ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION

 

I wanted to stress one important point:  

 

Bitcoin has a built-in mechanism to reduce energy consumption over time.  The number of bitcoin issued in the every-ten-minutes block reward is cut in half every four years.  Ceteris paribus, the amount of electricity Bitcoin consumes will be cut by 50% every four years.  For comparison, the Paris Accord only requires 7% cuts every four years.

 

Of course, I am not suggesting that the price of bitcoin holds here permanently.  From a conceptual standpoint though, halvings will force a 50% reduction from whatever level would otherwise exist.

 

Perhaps a more realistic scenario is if the price of bitcoin were to double every four years in parallel with the halvings – putting bitcoin at $320,000 /BTC in 2032 – electricity consumption would be no greater than it is today.

 

 

At that point it will probably be almost exclusively renewable/trapped – like hydroelectric, gas flares, geothermal, remote hydrocarbon deposits, etc.

 

 

THE NEXT MAJOR UNLOCK – by Emma Rose Bienvenu, Chief of Staff

 

After DeFi Summer of 2020, surging demand for Ethereum-hosted protocols brought sky-high gas fees and network congestion.  Thankfully, the “Layer 2 Summer” of 2021 heralds a solution, with the much-hyped launches of scaling solutions like Optimism and Offchain Labs’ Arbitrum.  Here we discuss why Layer 2 technology matters.  We start with a primer on scaling, then detail how new off-chain tools will help tackle the twin problems of transaction speed and cost.  We conclude with a discussion of what that means for the broader ecosystem, and why layer 2s will unlock the next wave of killer apps built on blockchain-based technology.

 

Introduction

 

If the promise of blockchain technology was to democratize access to finance – cutting costs by cutting out rent-seeking middlemen – its great irony is that transactions on Ethereum, which hosts most DeFi protocols, remain extremely expensive.  The reason for notoriously high gas fees is that, in a distributed network like Ethereum, where every node needs to store and process every transaction: this means that the network inevitably runs up against capacity limitations as its user base grows.  Congestion drives up gas prices and processing times, making small transactions nonviable.  It also makes it all but impossible for computationally demanding DApps to run directly on an increasingly crowded blockchain.

 

Ethereum has, in short, become a victim of its own success.  Over the past year, as millions rushed to embrace the DeFi protocols, NFT marketplaces, and other DApps hosted on Ethereum, the demand for processing transactions exploded.  Meanwhile, the supply of processing capacity remained frustratingly stable, constrained by the computational capacity of each node and the size of individual blocks.  When more transactions compete for a limited supply of blockspace and compute capacity, gas fees go up and transactions slow down.  In 2021, Ethereum fees rose by 845% compared to the previous year; average block capacity, which stood at roughly 70% in January 2020, has risen to a sustained level of 98%.

 

https://www.theblockcrypto.com/data/on-chain-metrics/ethereum

 

https://messari.io/article/the-optimism-ecosystem

 

The Problem of Scaling

 

Increasing the capacity of networks like Ethereum is extraordinarily challenging.  Blockchains are defined by three main characteristics: decentralization, security, and scalability.  You can pick two of the three, but if you stick to straightforward methods, you cannot have them all.  This means that improving the scalability of a blockchain – so it can process more transactions, more quickly, more cheaply – will generally erode its guarantees of security or decentralization. 

 

This conundrum, commonly dubbed the “scalability trilemma”, has vexed proponents of blockchain technologies since the early days of the ecosystem’s development.  In 2014, Vitalik Buterin memorably promised that the Ethereum community would either solve the problem of scalability “or die trying.”  Thankfully, with recent scalability upgrades and the launch of breakthrough Layer 2 scaling tools, success in that project is finally within reach. 

 

There are, broadly speaking, two approaches to overcoming the scalability trilemma.  “Layer 1” or “on-chain” scaling focuses on improving the blockchain itself; “Layer 2” or “off-chain” scaling looks to improve how the blockchain is used. 

 

Layer 1

 

In the Ethereum ecosystem, the leading Layer 1 scaling proposal is referred to as “sharding”, which would split the transaction database horizontally by creating new chains, or “shards”, that decrease the quantity of data each validator needs to process.  This would allow the total volume of transactions processed on the network to exceed the compute capacity of individual nodes.  Ultimately, this would reduce the barrier to entry for new validators joining the network, increasing throughput, and decreasing the cost of transacting on the network. 

 

There are however important limitations to Layer 1 scaling approaches.  They involve extraordinarily challenging computer science and game theory challenges, many of which have never been tackled before.  Implementing them also demands a hard fork of the protocol; as a practical matter, this requires building strong consensus among all stakeholders around each Layer 1 upgrade.  As in any complex and decentralized system, this is a daunting, time-consuming proposition.  The chronic delays that have plagued “ETH-2”, a planned hard fork upgrade of Ethereum, illustrate the difficulty, on both the technical and community alignment fronts, of implementing significant Layer 1 changes.

 

Layer 2

 

While Layer 1 solutions focus on improving the performance of the core blockchain, Layer 2 approaches look to improve how the blockchain is used.  Its proponents argue that, because distributed ledgers are inherently capacity-constrained, they should only host the highest-value transaction data.  Layer 2s migrate low-criticality operations off-chain but leave assets and cryptocurrency on Layer 2, allowing users to revert to Layer 2 at any time to either resolve disputes or reclaim their crypto-assets.  This anchors Layer 2 operations in native Layer 2 security, freeing up precious blockspace on the core blockchain.  Ultimately, this allows Layer 2 to handle in aggregate a much higher volume of transactions, more quickly and at far lower cost.

 

There are three leading types of layer-2 solutions: state channels, side chains, and rollups.  While all three can provide compounding gains to blockchain capacity, the Ethereum community has coalesced around rollups as the most promising path to scaling the network.  While other Layer 2 solutions accept significant tradeoffs in security or decentralization to achieve scalability, rollups accept some centralization without sacrificing trustlessness, the key priority underlying decentralization. 

 

Rollups migrate most computation off-chain, then periodically pushing batched transactions data and the resulting state root to the Layer 1 blockchain.  By executing operations outside of mainnet but recording transaction data and/or proofs on Layer 1, rollups benefit from the security of the core blockchain while achieving greater throughput and vastly lower fees.  Broadly speaking, rollups come in two flavors: ZK-Rollups and Optimistic Rollups.

 

ZK Rollups move computation to layer 2, and periodically batch and compress transaction data conducted off the main chain, generate a validity proof of its integrity, and post it to the Ethereum mainnet.  By posting a proof of correctness of each state transition, ZK-Rollups guarantee the validity of the on-chain state, allowing for immediate withdrawals by users.  These proofs are however complex and time-consuming to compute.  Though developers will eventually be able to use Solidity with ZK Rollup technology, they currently require that smart contracts be re-written in a custom programming language.  For the time being, this makes ZK-Rollups best-suited to projects that enable straightforward payments, like decentralized exchanges or payments platforms.

 

We invested in StarkWare, now the leading pioneer of ZK-Rollup technology.  In mid-2020, Starkware demonstrated the power of StarkEx, its ZK-Rollup scalability engine that supports decentralized exchanges, by using it to set up 1.3M accounts on Ethereum and seed each with an initial balance, all over a 12-hour period.  Had it run directly on the mainnet, the process would have consumed the entire capacity of the Ethereum network for 4.5 days.  StarkEx managed it with a stunningly 2.5% of Ethereum’s capacity for just 12 hours, at an average cost of $0.003 per transaction.

 

Unlike ZK-Rollups, Optimistic Rollups assume transactions are valid and run a fraud proof only in the event of a challenge.  Optimistic rollups rely on parties verifying Layer 2 submissions – and challenging incorrect states – to uphold the integrity of the transitions.  While computationally efficient, this forces users to wait a challenge period before they can access their funds.  Nevertheless, the scalability benefits Optimistic Rollups enable are enormous, and could cut Ethereum gas fees by 10,000+% and increase throughput by up to 200x.  Projects like Arbitrum use Optimistic Rollup technology that integrates easily with existing DApps, supporting the execution of arbitrary EVM code within the off-chain layer with minimal changes to the underlying smart contracts.  Since their August 2021 launch, more than 250 developer teams have started building on top of Arbitrum.  The project was selected by Reddit to power the launch of its own Layer 2 rollup, and Aave, Balancer, Band Protocol, Coinbase Wallet, Chainlink, Curve, DAI stablecoins, Etherscan, Dodo, Metamask, Shapeshift, Sushiswap, and Uniswap all have live or upcoming integrations with Arbitrum’s technology.

 

The power and promise of both Optimistic and ZK Rollups are that by anchoring transactions in native Layer 1 security, giving users the option of reverting to L1 to reclaim their assets or resolve disputes, they create game theoretic incentives for both users and operators to behave honestly.  This makes them an essential catalyst to creating secure and scalable networks on which users can transact without needing to trust centralized intermediaries or their transaction counterparties.  That is, in short, the promise of blockchain and crypto writ large.  Following the much-hyped recent launches of Layer 2 scaling projects, that promise is closer now to being realized than ever before.

 

What Solving for Scalability Would Mean

 

For blockchain-based protocols to replicate – and eventually replace – the pillars of traditional finance, they will need to match or exceed the performance of its infrastructure.  Without the help of Layer 2s, the Ethereum mainnet could only process 15-20 transactions per second (TPS).  The Bitcoin mainchain can handle just seven.  The VisaNet payments network, by comparison, handles on average roughly 1,700 TPS, and NASDAQ processes around 500-1,000 TPS.  With the launch of Layer 2s, that disparity will narrow or disappear.  Rollups alone are projected to increase TPS on Ethereum to between 1,000 and 4,000 TPS.  Other Layer 2 solutions like state channels and side chains will add to the ecosystem’s capacity, as will highly scalable Ethereum alternatives like Polkadot.  Taken together, these tools will make it possible to create a blockchain-based point of sale payment system that offers instant transfers for quick checkout times and guarantees settlement, with throughput rivalling that of the visa network. 

 

In the short-term, the benefits of higher transaction speed and lower costs will be felt most strongly in the DeFi realm.  Applications migrating to Layer 2s will pass on their significant cost savings to users, offering lower transaction fees and lower minimum transaction sizes.  This will drive overall DeFi volumes, drawing retail users who were formerly priced out of transacting directly on Ethereum away from centralized exchanges or less-secure alternatives like Binance Smart Chain.

 

DeFi protocols themselves will also improve.  For example, applications like Perpetual Protocol and DYDX allow users to go long or short crypto assets using margin and leverage; when the value of posted collateral drops below a specified threshold, the collateral is liquidated automatically.  When transactions take several minutes to process, that liquidation mechanism functions sub-optimally, but in a scaled ecosystem of near-instantaneous transactions, it can function vastly more efficiently and precisely.  This dramatically increases the capital efficiency of DeFi protocols, allowing dYdX’s Starkware integration, for example, to offer users higher maximum leverage thresholds, lower penalties for liquidation, and cross-margin trading functionalities.

 

More broadly, the advent of high throughput, virtually free and instantaneous transactions will allow blockchain-based protocols to rival or surpass the user experience available on traditional web browsers.  One reason that attempts to build decentralized Facebook, World of Warcraft, Visa, or SecondLife have largely stalled in production is that, historically, public blockchains have lacked the capacity to handle applications that required hundreds or thousands of computations per second.  With scaling tools that increase throughput by 50-1,000x, apps that used to be too slow or computationally intensive to run on the core blockchain will become viable.  This will mark an extraordinary expansion in the size and scope of addressable markets for blockchain-based projects, unlocking the next generation of decentralized social media, virtual worlds, micropayments platforms, gaming ecosystems, and more. 

 

Conclusion

 

For blockchain-based systems to deliver on their vision for a transparent, secure, censorship resistant, and privacy-protective financial infrastructure, expanding the capacity of the ecosystem will need to be an iterative, ongoing project.  In the immediate, Layer 2 solutions can provide powerful, flexible, compounding tools.  In time, the best approach to scaling Layer 1 may well turn out to be improving the efficiency with which it functions as a data availability engine, to optimize Layer 1’s ability to host for Layer 2s operating atop it.  In true decentralized fashion, the problem of scaling is and will continue to be tackled by a variety of complementary solutions.  For the moment, Layer 2 are leading the charge toward a scalable, compostable blockchain ecosystem – and we can’t wait to see the wave of innovation they unlock.

 

 

NFTs – By Franklin Bi, Director of Portfolio Development

 

“The medium is the message… the framework which changes with each new technology and not just the picture within the frame.”

 

Marshall McLuhan

 

A Thousand Words vs. $69 Million

 

You can buy a van Gogh painting for a couple of thousand dollars.  Well, not a real van Gogh, but at least 99% of one – enough to fool private collectors and institutions like Christie’s or the Tate Modern.  Just place your order with a former middle-school art teacher named John Myatt, also known by Scotland Yard as the talent behind “the biggest art fraud of the 20th century.” 

 

What separates a John Myatt’s Starry Night from the one hanging pricelessly in the MoMA? 

 

To the naked eye, nothing.  Their consumptive value is perfectly equal – whether viewed digitally or physically, whether appreciated by one or many. 

 

The difference between the real thing and the copycat boils down to one simple answer: Provenance.  The ledger tracing the work’s chain of custody back to its creator.  Or, in the words of our youth: “Let’s see the receipts.”

 

Art experts estimate that roughly 10% of all van Gogh’s in existence are fakes.  The van Gogh painting itself holds no value.  Together with the museum plaque beside it, it’s priceless.

 

 

Earlier this year, the digital artist Beeple and MakersPlace, a leading NFT marketplace, combined forces to list the first purely digital artwork and NFT ever offered at Christie’s. 

 

Beeple’s magnum opus, EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS, sold for over 39k ETH or $69 million at the time of sale – the third-highest auction price for a living artist. 

 

At today’s ETH price of ~$3k, that’s $150 million – placing it comfortably in a price range reserved for Picasso, Rothko, and Basquiat. 

 

The Beeple sale set off a wave of NFT market activity, but also a ton of skepticism.  As NFT critics point out, a digital image is infinitely easier to replicate than a physical painting.  Yet, Christie’s clearly thought it might be worth something and the market confirmed it resoundingly.  Why? 

 

What separates a digital image sold at Christie’s for millions from one that I right-clicked and saved to my computer?

 

Again, the answer is:  Provenance. 

 

Blockchains bestow provenance on digital assets in a way that previously wasn’t possible for digitized media.  It’s easy to copy and paste a digital picture, but it’s impossible to fake the NFT that carries its provenance. 

 

Is a digital picture worth $69 million?  Depends who you ask. 

 

33 bidders placed over 350 bids for Beeple’s THE FIRST 5000 DAYS

 

Their breakdown by age:

 

Under 25 years old:  2

Between 25 and 40:  19

Between 41 and 55:  11

Over 55:  1

 

30 out of the 33 were first-time bidders at Christie’s. 

 

I suspect they’ll be sticking around.

 

A CryptoPunk Renaissance

 

The driving force behind the Renaissance wasn’t Michaelangelo or Donatello.  It was the Medici family, 15th-century pioneers of our modern financial system and the largest bank of their time.  Their patronage of the arts turned Florence, Italy into the center of a creativity explosion.

 

Today, we’re witnessing the emergence of a new financial system – one without middlemen or Medici’s.  The market cap of crypto has grown to over $2 trillion in the past decade.  Yet people are puzzled about why NFT markets are doing billions in volume and why NFT-related tokens currently make up over $20 billion in market cap. 

 

New financial system, new Renaissance.  It’s unsurprising that a Medici-style patronage system is emerging out of crypto to establish its own culture – one born in the image of its tastemakers: a mash-up of 8-bit aesthetics and cyberpunk je ne sais quoi.

 

Since 2017, there have been 115 million primary sales of NFT’s.  CryptoPunks sit atop the list with over $1 billion of volume since their release in 2017 as one of the earliest NFT projects on Ethereum.  Visa has purchased a CryptoPunk.  So has Jay-Z.  One particularly unique CryptoPunk sold at Sotheby’s for $11.7 million.

 

Cosimo I de Medici in Armour, 1545

Sold to The Met, price undisclosed

CryptoPunk #7523, 2017

Sold to SillyTuna, $11.7 million, Sotheby’s

 

CryptoPunks are both art and artifact. 

 

What matters for CryptoPunks is not their provenance.  Most Punk buyers have no particular affinity for their original creators. 

 

What matters is their timestamp – the specific block mined on Ethereum that immortalizes their historical significance; and their scarcity – only 10,000 unique Punks exist.  

 

Uniqueness is an unfamiliar concept in the digital world.  It’s just not worth the effort or cost to track individual instances of a music file or PDF as they travel across the Internet. 

 

NFT’s lower the cost of digital uniqueness to near-zero.

 

This unlocks a new world of collectible assets that extends beyond fine art.  Today, a Kanye West album playing on my phone is indistinguishable from the final version delivered at his recording studio.  How much would an “original mint” of The College Dropout, one of the most influential hip-hop albums in history, be worth?

 

What we’re seeing now is a future where content and context travel together through the digital universe.  The data and the metadata, distilling the previously intangible into legible, transferable value. 

 

Who Cares About NFTs

 

NFT’s are a disruptive force in the same way that cryptocurrencies are disrupting the global financial system – through disintermediation and censorship resistance.

 

Musicians take home only 12 percent of their revenues.  Artists pay 50% commissions to art galleries.  Google and Apple take a 30% slice of all apps and in-app purchases.  

 

The connection between creators and consumers is broken.  In a world where data is king, it’s Ticketmaster, auction houses, and streaming apps that interact directly with fans, gathering their information behind walled gardens and maintaining their grip on commercial distribution.  

 

Every time an artist sells an NFT, they take back ownership of their economics.  A direct distribution channel where they can earn the full worth of their creations. 

 

Censorship is alive and well.  As content and communication keep moving further into the digital world, so are various forms of censorship.  We see it happening through state-controlled Internet access, algorithmic news feeds, and Terms of Service policies.  

 

The most consistent outcome of all censorship is its circumvention.  Much of NFT content is hosted on a decentralized storage network, Arweave, where JPEG’s and GIF’s sit alongside an app called WeiBlocked.  

 

WeiBlocked monitors Weibo, the top messaging app in China, for phrases and hashtagged posts that are likely to be censored and copies them to Arweave, where they become virtually indestructible.  Earlier this summer, Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, was forced to close following government raids and the shut down of its website – but not before 4,000 articles were posted on Arweave.

 

 

Every NFT purchase increases the capacity of decentralized infrastructure like Arweave and Filecoin to support and preserve critical applications.  

 

Still Early

 

The market cap of NFT’s is estimated at around $28 billion – only 1.4% of the crypto market’s $2 trillion total.  

 

Platforms like MakersPlace are the first step – a gateway for creators and fans to create and access their first NFT’s.  That’s why we’re thrilled to lead their latest funding round. 

 

In the same way that a fintech apps that can’t see your bank balances is dead on arrival, the next big social network will need to recognize users’ NFT inventories.  

 

New product strategies will be built around the objects held in your wallet – a unique fingerprint of likes, preferences, fandoms, and willingness to spend that marketing executives can only dream of.

 

In a future world of practically infinite data, AI-generated “deepfakes,” and virtual anonymity, the role of NFT’s will become even clearer: as the building blocks of authenticity, curation, and true signal from the noise.

 

“Art at its most significant is a distant early warning system that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen.”

 

– Marshall McLuhan

 

 

Valcour SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES PROGRAM

 

Valcour has offered co-investment opportunities in venture and token deals in all our venture funds and a few special purpose vehicles (SPVs).  When excess deal capacity becomes available, investors have the opportunity to invest alongside the main fund in deals at their discretion.  From time to time, we also have access to secondary stock from founders or other early investors we know.  This has been very popular.  Investors value the opportunity to allocate additional capital to specific deals they find attractive.  In Venture Fund III, 17% of investments are from co-investments.

 

Some recent examples of opportunities Valcour has offered to its co-investors:

 

Arbitrum is one of the most widely used Layer 2 solutions designed by a team of brilliant and experienced technical PhDs which are solving current blockchain scalability and privacy issues.  Valcour initially offered this opportunity at a $30mm valuation and its most recent round came at a valuation of $1.2bn.

 

Bitso is a cryptocurrency exchange with support for instant deposits and withdrawals through Mexico’s SPEI banking system.  With as little as $100 MXN, users can start purchasing and selling cryptocurrencies.  Valcour initially offered this opportunity at a $50mm valuation and its most recent round came at a valuation of $2.2bn.

 

To expand this opportunity, we are launching the Valcour Special Opportunities Program.  This program will allow investors to allocate capital at their discretion to specific venture and token deals Valcour has access to.

 

If you would like to participate in the co-investment program, please fill out the form on this page or email coinvest@valcourcapital.com.

 

 

UPCOMING TRAVEL

 

Our (vaccinated) Capital Formation partners and occasionally investment team members are now traveling to discuss Valcour Blockchain Fund and the blockchain ecosystem with our Limited Partners and potential investors.

 

We also have organized Blockchain Lunches in some cities, should you want to learn more about blockchain and meet other investors who share your interest.  If you are interested in attending one of our Blockchain Lunches, please fill out the form on this page and we will be in touch regarding availability.

 

  • New York City, September 13-24 & November 1-4

    • September 15 & 23, Blockchain Lunches at 12pm

  • Los Angeles, September 16 & 17

  • Barcelona, September 17

  • Geneva, September 20 & 21

  • London, September 22 & 23 

    • September 22, Blockchain Lunch at 12pm

  • Zurich, September 24  | including a Blockchain Lunch at 12pm

  • Boston, September 27  |  including a Blockchain Lunch at 12pm

  • Palo Alto, October 18, Blockchain Lunch | 12pm

  • Chicago, November 4  |  including a Blockchain Lunch at 12pm

  • Detroit, November 5

  • Portugal, November 8-10

 

If you are interested in a meeting, please contact the Valcour Capital Management LLC Formation team at +1-650-854-7000 or ir@valcourcapital.com. 

 

 

Take care,

 

@Dan_Valcour                                                                                                          

dan@valcourcapital.com

 

“Put the alternative back in Alternatives”


CONFERENCE CALLS

 

Our investment team hosts monthly conference calls to help educate the community on blockchain.  The team discusses important developments that are happening within the industry, and will often invite founders and CEOs of leading blockchain companies to participate in panel discussions.  Below is a list of upcoming calls for which you can register for via this link.

 

Venture Fund II Investor Call

Tuesday, September 14, 2021 9:00am PDT / 18:00 CEST / 12:00pm China Standard Time (Sep 15th)

Open only to Limited Partners of the fund.

 

Investing In Blockchain Conference Call [A discussion of the blockchain opportunity set and how Valcour’s four funds are structured to capture value in this rapidly evolving ecosystem.]

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 9:00am PDT / 18:00 CEST / 12:00am China Standard Time (Sep 22nd)

 

Venture Fund III Investor Call

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 9:00am PDT / 18:00 CEST / 12:00pm China Standard Time (Sep 29th)

Open only to Limited Partners of the fund.

 

Valcour Blockchain Fund Launch Call [A detailed dive into our new “all-in-one” blockchain fund.]

Tuesday, October 12, 2021 9:00am PDT / 18:00 CEST / 12:00am China Standard Time (Oct 13th)

 


PORTFOLIO COMPANY UPDATES

 

Investing in MakersPlace and NFT’s for Mainstream 

 

MakersPlace is the leading marketplace for mainstream collectors to access non-fungible tokens and digital art.  The platform focuses on bringing premium NFT’s to market by empowering creators like contemporary artist Urs Fischer and NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes.  In February 2021, MakersPlace partnered with Christie’s to auction artwork by the artist, Beeple, resulting in a record-setting $69.3 million sale.  MakersPlace collectors have grown 10-fold over the past year, as the platform has facilitated over $100 million in transactions.  Valcour led a $30 million Series A round for MakersPlace alongside Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from Coinbase Ventures, Sony Music Entertainment, rap artist Eminem, and former Sotheby’s CEO Bill Ruprecht.

 

Offchain Labs Raises $120 Million to Scale Ethereum with Arbitrum

 

Offchain Labs is the developer of Arbitrum, a Layer 2 solution that helps projects built on Ethereum to scale with higher throughput and lower gas fees.  Over $80 million of total value locked has migrated to Arbitrum in the first week post-launch.  Many top DeFi projects like Aave, Uniswap, Balancer, and Maker are live or launching soon.  One of the key advantages of Arbitrum’s solution is the ease of migrating smart contracts from Ethereum.  The project raised $120 million in a Series B round with $1.2 billion valuation, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from Ribbit Capital, Alameda Research, Polychain Capital, and others.  Valcour previously led a $3.7 million seed round for Offchain Labs in March 2019.

 

Investing in Ondo Finance and Customized Yield Products

 

Ondo Finance is an Ethereum-based DeFi protocol that enables users to originate loans with customized fixed and variable yield positions.  The platform caters to both investors seeking stable returns with limited risk and those seeking higher-risk, leveraged exposure for higher return potential.  The founding team brings extensive capital markets and technology experience from Goldman Sachs’s Digital Assets team, Microsoft and Facebook.  Valcour led a $4 million seed round for Ondo Finance, with participation from Genesis, Digital Currency Group, CMS Holdings, Coinfund, and others.