I work for Devonshire Investors, a private investment firm affiliated with Fidelity Investments. Fidelity is a widely recognized brand name and as a surprise to some, is also a private company. The goal of Devonshire Investors is to diversify a portion of Fidelity’s profits on behalf of the Johnson family, owners of the firm, and also high stakeholders in the firm. Devonshire makes investments outside of the stock market holding investments ranging from oil fields to numerous properties around the globe and even an avocado farm. The firm also invests in start-ups that require rounds of funding with the anticipation of significant returns if the particular company becomes successful or can be bought out or becomes public. The Devonshire Board of Directors approved the fund to begin investing cryptocurrency and blockchain in the past six months. The directors in charge of the crypto fund requested assistance with crypto research: my finance team’s task is to determine at which point of the investment stage should the directors be investing at, whether that be at the seed stage, series A, or at an even later stage.
The finance team is still in the early stages of our research using Pitchbook– a research database which provides up to date information on companies, deals, funds, and investors across the entire private investment lifecycle. I’m not going to give a lesson on cryptocurrency as we covered it a few weeks back, instead I will dive into a few interesting companies I have come across. Let’s start on a serious note with Wyre– a blockchain based payment platform with the hope of changing the future of how international payments are completed. This platform provides real-time payouts, same-day transfers and direct to bank transfers. All of these elements allow business to move money from country to country at competitive foreign exchange rates. The company raised eight million dollars of Series B venture funding in December of 2018, which put its valuation at forty million dollars. A Venmo for crypto? It seems like this could be a very successful business model, but I can see the competitive landscape becoming crowded in a short period of time.
Swytch is a blockchain platform designed to track and verify the carbon impact of renewable energy generation and other sustainable actions. The platform leverages AI and machine learning to determine how much carbon is being displaced and uses a smart meter and blockchain technology to reward the companies and people who reduce carbon emissions the most. Based out of Cambridge, MA, the company raised an undisclosed amount of venture funding as of June 2018 and continues to be privately held as it grows its platform. While this type of platform is still in the early stages, comparable companies to Swytch are popping up and receiving millions of dollars in funding across the globe. Enabling people to be acknowledged for their efforts to adopt renewable energy and support sustainability, coupled with AI and machine learning, can help point companies and individuals in the right direction.
While I will not get too much into specifics, there are many cyrptocurrencies dedicated to the adult entertainment industry. Some are designed for product purchases and transactions on adult websites and some push the envelope further providing full-blown blockchain infrastructure for building secure, anonymous adult apps. Outside of the adult entertainment industry, the following currencies exist: TrumpCoin, Billary Coin, PutinCoin, and Ron Paul Coin. No politics, I will leave it at that.
Let’s finish with CryptoKitties-where one can “collect and breed furrever friends!” CryptoKitties is a provider of an online platform intended to offer games built upon blockchain technology. The company, based out of Vancouver, uses cryptocurrencies to buy, sell trade, and breed virtual kittens. The private company was founded in 2017 and has raised fifteen million dollars of series A2 venture funding as of November 2018. The good news: every cat is one of a kind and 100% owned by you- it cannot be replicated, taken away or destroyed! Over one and a half million kittens have been bred with the most expensive Cryptokitty, Dragon, being purchased for one hundred seventy thousand dollars…yes that is six digits. Unfortunately the growth of CryptoKitties has slowed in recent months, but that could change as people read this blog!
As I have learned, money can be made off of anything- crypto aside. Don’t believe me? Ever heard of the Pet Rock? My eyes were first opened to this thanks to a professor I had at Bryant my freshman year who frequently brought up the Pet Rock. Over one and a half million pet rocks were sold for around four dollars each.
The goal of this blog was to open the class up to the breadth and opportunities in the blockchain and crypto world (whether seem serious and others not so much). So what do you think? Do we have any future investors of CryptoKitties in #IS6621?