Tag Archives: Cryptocurrency

How SBF’s Hedge Fund Imploded

Let’s say I create $1 million worth of Frankcoin. Will you loan me $1 million with my Frankcoin as collateral? 


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Not if you’re in your right mind, you won’t. But that’s exactly what lenders did for Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto hedge fund, Alameda Research. 

From a report out this morning in The New York Times:

 …Alameda, which held a large stake in the token, began using its FTT holdings as collateral for more loans to facilitate its trading activities. 

Like Frankcoin, FTT had no real value. It was created out of thin air by SBF.

This didn’t stop Alameda from making bold claims in a presentation to lenders:

…it could offer lenders “high returns with no risk” and “no downside.”

At this point, lenders should’ve known this was BS. There are no returns without risk. 

Anyone guaranteeing you a return is a fraud. Con artists, Bernie Madoff among them, love to promise you a sure thing. 

Perhaps these lenders were blinded by the big returns Alameda promised. 

For years, this house of cards stood. But as crypto came under pressure this year, Alameda’s fraud became harder to conceal:

With crypto prices falling, more lenders wanted their money back. The falling prices also reduced the value of FTT, which Alameda had used as collateral for some loans. As the firm struggled to pay lenders back, FTX resorted to using funds that customers had deposited with the exchange for ease of trading to pay Alameda’s lenders back.

What can we learn from this, as investors? 

Never believe anyone who says they can guarantee you a return. There are no guarantees. 

Don’t call something someone invented an asset. It’s funny money. 

And never let the promise of riches blind you to reality. 

What do you think of FTX and Alameda’s collapse? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know! 

Have a great weekend everyone! 

More on tech:

Talking FTX, Twitter and Startups at Starta VC

Is SBF Headed to Prison?

FTX Blows A Massive Hole in Tiger’s Portfolio

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Photo: FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried

FTX Blows A Massive Hole in Tiger’s Portfolio

It’s going from bad to worse at Tiger Global Management. As crypto exchange FTX implodes, Tiger could lose hundreds of millions of dollars.


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From a new report in Forbes:

Tiger Global Management appears to have just taken another hit.

The hedge fund headed by billionaire Chase Coleman has been among the most prominent investors in Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX crypto exchange.

On Tuesday, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao tweeted that his firm was buying FTX’s non-U.S. businesses to rescue it from what he said was a “significant liquidity crunch.”

The hedge fund giant made multiple, huge investments in FTX:

Tiger was part of a group of investors in FTX’s January Series C round that valued the company at $32 billion. It previously also participated in a Series B round that valued FTX at $25 billion. During that raise, FTX took a page out of Elon Musk’s playbook by raising exactly $420.69 million.


Both the Series B and C raised about $400 million. A giant like Tiger would likely have written checks of at least $100 million in each of those rounds.

I’ve seen Tiger in numerous deals, and their typical check size was $100 million or more.

Now, Tiger will likely take a total loss on its FTX stake. Binance is expected to buy the exchange for essentially nothing, simply assuming its liabilities.

This means Tiger could be looking at hundreds of millions of dollars, up in smoke.

This comes at what’s already a terrible time for Tiger Global. Its fund is down 55% for the year, with losses accelerating last month.

Meanwhile, it has only marked down its private portfolio by 8%. That is far too little given the huge losses in the NASDAQ, which means more markdowns to come.

Could this be the straw that breaks the camel’s back? Only time will tell.

But even without the implosion of FTX, I expect Tiger to liquidate.

Its fund must more than double to get back to its high point and start charging performance fees again. Those fees make up most of a hedge fund manager’s pay.

Tiger has taken huge losses in both public and private markets. Why does anyone still trust them with their money?

Were I an investor in Tiger, I’d be dumping every cent of it yesterday.

What do you think the future holds for Tiger? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on markets:

Hedge Fund Giant Losing $40 Million a Day

Tiger Global Down 52% — Losses Over $18 Billion

Hedge Fund Manager’s Arrest Shows How Market Manipulation Works

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Photo: FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried

Andreessen Crypto Fund Down 40%

It’s crypto winter, and Andreessen Horowitz is shivering. Its main crypto fund is down 40% this year.

From a new report in The Wall Street Journal:


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As cryptocurrency prices soared last year, no investor bet more on the sector than Andreessen Horowitz.

The timing wasn’t good.

Andreessen’s flagship crypto fund shed around 40% of its value in the first half of this year, according to people familiar with the matter. That decline is much larger than the 10% to 20% drops recorded by other venture funds, which have largely avoided the risky practice of purchasing volatile cryptocurrencies, according to fund investors.

Many of the firm’s largest investments have been crushed. Coinbase stock is down nearly 80% since its IPO. Solana has dropped 82%.

NFT marketplace OpenSea may be the best investment Andreessen’s new crypto funds have made so far. Its valuation soared over 100-fold in ten months to $13 billion.

But now, OpenSea trading volumes are down 99% from their peak. The platform is a ghost town, and one of Andreessen’s best investments may be a total loss.

Andreessen likely scaled its crypto funds too quickly. It went from a $515 million fund in 2020 to a $4.5 billion fund this year, the largest ever.

The benchmark for a decent return is a 3x fund. Can Andreessen make $13.5 billion in crypto?

If the firm gets a 10% position in a startup, that requires a $135 billion outcome. There isn’t a crypto company in the world worth anything close to that.

Andreessen isn’t just buying shares in crypto startups. It’s also buying their tokens, a rare and extremely risky move.

These tokens confer no ownership in a company. Their prices are very volatile.

Andreessen’s one saving grace is that it distributed Coinbase shares shortly after IPO, locking in billions in gains. That should preserve good returns in the early crypto funds.

But the picture for the new funds is bleak. Andreessen has made fewer investments since the crypto crash, and no one knows when prices will bottom.

I’ve been deploying capital faster in this weak market. Andreessen may be missing great opportunities by pulling back.

Perhaps its limited partners (LP’s), the investors in the funds, are telling the firm to stand pat.

I think Andreessen is over-committed to crypto. A $4.5 billion fund is too big for this nascent industry.

Deploying sums that large will require real products with real uses beyond speculation. Any day now…

What do you think Andreessen should do? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

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Photo: “Chris Dixon” by jdlasica is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The End of Celsius — the Beginning of Crypto Regulation

Cryptocurrency lender Celsius Network has stopped all withdrawals, imperiling the savings of 100,000 users. From The Wall Street Journal:

A few months ago, Mike Washburn’s cryptocurrency investment looked like a winner.

Now he’s just hoping to get his money back.

Mr. Washburn, a 35-year-old plumber in Otsego, Minn., had $100,000 in an account at Celsius Network LLC, one of the largest lenders in the cryptocurrency world. Recently widowed, Mr. Washburn said he and his two children moved in with his parents, and he planned to buy a house with his savings. The Celsius account offered him yield higher than would a traditional bank account, and the company was well-known in the crypto community.


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Celsius promised rates of over 18%, versus around 1% in a traditional bank account. Users flocked to the platform, perhaps unaware of the risk compared to a traditional bank.

The assets Celsius holds to pay those high rates plummeted in value as crypto markets crashed this year. And some of its investments are only semiliquid, making it difficult to meet redemption requests from depositors.

Yesterday, certain investors tried to engineer a short squeeze in Celsius tokens.

It caused some run-up in the price, but the tokens remain down over 75% in the last year. I would expect this attempt to fail in the long term, given the overall instability of the Celsius platform.

Source: Coinmarketcap.com

Some savers may have looked at the 18% Celsius was offering, noted that it was 18 times as much as the bank, and piled in. But comparing a crypto lending product to a US bank account is “apples and bowling balls.”


A bank account provides FDIC insurance for up to $250,000. What’s more, any interest is paid in US dollars, a much more stable currency than most crypto tokens.

I think Celsius is finished as a platform.

Any deposit-taking institution operates on trust. Even if it weathers the current storm and manages to stay solvent, who will trust Celsius with their money in the future?

The even greater impact of the Celsius implosion will be on crypto regulation. The industry has often tried to avoid regulation, espousing a libertarian ethos.

That ends when plumbers in Minnesota are losing their life savings. Once their constituents are losing everything and barraging their representatives with phone calls, politicians become motivated to investigate and pass new laws.

What’s more, pols and regulators see opportunities to make names for themselves by sticking it to unsympathetic crypto fat cats.

It may take several years, but expect stiff regulations on cryptocurrency to come out following this crash.

I expect crypto lending and stablecoins to be the first targets for regulation. They are the most similar to the heavily regulated banking industry in that they take deposits and aim for stability.

What do you think is next for Celsius and the crypto market at large? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know.

More on tech:

Hedge Fund Tiger Global Losing $136 Million a Day, Down 52%

Managing a Crisis the Sequoia Way

Why Tech Stocks Are Oversold

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$1 Billion Still Missing from Bitfinex Hack

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Last week, the U.S. government made its largest asset seizure ever: $3.6 billion worth of bitcoin.

The money came from the 2016 hack of the Bitfinex exchange. The culprits: Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan, a young couple from New York City.

Perhaps the most interesting detail in this story is that approximately 24,000 bitcoins are still missing from this hack. They would be worth over $1.1 billion at current prices.

So where are they? Perhaps percolating around the same places where Lichtenstein and Morgan laundered theirs.

The criminal complaint alleges that the couple laundered some of their stolen coins using non-fungible tokens (NFT’s). This could explain why people will pay hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for an image of an ape.

If two criminals work together, trading the NFT between various accounts they control at ever-increasing prices, all they need is one bagholder to come in and make the illusion real. They take his money, give him the little jpeg, and laugh all the way to the bank.

Another fascinating aspect of this story is how they were caught:

The authorities said they traced the flow of funds through the unhosted wallets and across exchanges, according to the complaint, finding transactions that landed in accounts on exchanges that the two alleged launderers had in their real names. In one instance, according to the complaint, two of these accounts shared a login from the same location in New York.

This is a common mistake: mixing anonymous and real identities. Ross Ulbricht, creator of the Silk Road, did this by logging into his private VPN and his personal Gmail account from the same cafe in San Francisco.

If authorities find a pattern that when an anonymous account is used, your account also tends to be used from the same IP address, you’re going down.

In all, I think this case is good for the crypto industry. The less it seems like a free-for-all, the more legitimate it becomes.

The more legitimate it becomes, the broader adoption will be.

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More on tech:

Tech Plunge Hits Early Stage Startups

How Solana Could Wipe Out Visa and MasterCard

Hedge Funds Pull Back from Tech Amid Big Losses

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Solana Is the Most Popular Crypto of 2022

In what’s begun as a tough year for cryptocurrencies, Solana has attracted more investors than any other coin. The high speed network landed $6 million in inflows so far this year.

Larger competitors like Bitcoin and Ethereum have seen outflows in the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars.

What I find particularly striking is that Solana’s market cap is only a fraction the size of its larger peers. Bitcoin has a total value around $800 billion, and Ethereum nearly $400 billion.

Meanwhile, Solana is worth just $44 billion. Nonetheless, it managed to beat these much larger protocols in attracting investors.

This is a pattern I expect to continue long term. Solana can process tens of thousands of transactions per second for virtually nothing.

Compare that to Ethereum, where completing a single transaction costs about $46!

Would merchants accept a credit card that cost them $46 in transaction fees every time someone used it? Of course not.

Ethereum’s high fees will severely limit its use cases until the fees come down.

Bitcoin looks better at about $2 a transaction. But Solana charges mere fractions of a cent.

A new technology that’s dramatically faster and cheaper will win, regardless of the market. I expect Solana to continue to gain value relative to the older protocols.

At least until a swifter competitor enters the ring!

More on tech:

How Solana Could Wipe Out Visa and MasterCard

A Day in the Life of an Angel Investor

Is Fathom the Future of Blockchain?

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Is Fathom the Future of Blockchain?

I was blown away when I read how fast Solana can process transactions. But there’s a new kid on the block: Fathom.

Fathom is even faster than Solana on one important metric:

Solana averages 50,000 transactions per second, versus 14 per second on Ethereum. Fantom is not as fast as Solana, but it’s still way ahead of Ethereum; in a test run back in 2018, its blockchain processed 25,000 transactions per second. But Fantom has a pretty solid claim to being the fastest blockchain if you look at time to finality. This is arguably the most important statistic, as that’s the moment when a transaction has been fully validated on the chain. Fantom’s time to finality is about a second, versus 13 seconds on Solana and more than a minute on Ethereum.

To me, the metrics that matter are:

1) How long until my transaction is done?
2) How much does it cost?

Both Solana and Fathom are very cheap to run, and Fathom seems a little faster in finalizing transactions.

Both are light years ahead of Ethereum. I would expect to see Ethereum slowly fade unless there’s a major update to leapfrog the newer protocols.

Fathom is worth about $7 billion today. Could it one day be worth 100 times that, my bar for highly speculative investments?

I think it’s possible. Visa and Mastercard together are worth $830 billion. Add in American Express, and you’re at almost $1 trillion.

And that doesn’t cover banks that charge tons of wire fees. A protocol that could replace these high fees with near-zero ones could be worth $1 trillion or more.

The question is, which blockchain will dominate? I don’t know.

I would favor backing a lot of promising tokens early in the hope that one of them returns 100 or 1000 times one’s initial investment.

This is the same approach I take investing in startups. It can work well when there are numerous small, promising competitors and the likelihood of a winner-take-all outcome.

But buying all those tokens is a lot of work! An ideal investment vehicle would be an ETF that owns all the major coins (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Solana, etc.) and another that owns high speed smaller coins (Fathom, Near, etc.).

The SEC does not allow ETFs to directly hold cryptocurrency. Like so much of what the SEC does, this policy is counterproductive.

It should should approve crypto ETFs so that investors can spread their bets. If the government’s goal is protecting people’s savings, anything that aids diversification is a plus.

I’m excited to see what the future of finance will look like!

We may soon be living in a world where you can send anyone money in seconds for (almost) free. A world in which politicians can’t devalue your savings on a whim.

That’s a future worth building for!

More on tech:

A Day in the Life of an Angel Investor

How Solana Could Wipe Out Visa and MasterCard

This Week in the Venture Bubble

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GameStop Now Accepting Dozens of Cryptocurrencies

GameStop Corp. is now accepting dozens of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin and Dogecoin, per a report from Investor Place yesterday.

These cryptocurrencies can be used at any one of GameStop’s locations or online. GameStop is using the Flexa network, which supports a wide variety of cryptocurrencies.

This comes shortly after AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. began accepting crypto payments, including Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Meme stocks trying to draw in the adjacent crypto community is a wise move. All marketing costs money, but accepting crypto provides a bunch of press attention for the minimal cost of joining the Flexa network.

Flexa appears quite robust, with tens of thousands of retail locations on its platform. It reminds me of a Square for crypto; easy payment acceptance for merchants.

If GameStop ever delivers streaming games on its own platform, crypto payments could be particularly useful. Unlike with credit cards, customers from all over the world could purchase access with no foreign exchange fees.

Will accepting crypto payments make or break GameStop or AMC’s business? Of course not.

But for businesses that rely on foot traffic, anything that builds buzz at low cost is a huge win!

What do you think of GameStop and AMC accepting crypto payments? And who do you think will be next?

Let me know in the comments below.

This is the last blog for this week. I’ll see you again on Monday.

Merry Christmas!

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Parody Site Sues Citadel to Stop Shutdown

How Did High Dividend Stocks Perform In the Last Crash?

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Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

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Polygon: Crypto’s Killer App?

Everyone loves Ethereum, right? It’s widely used and has a ton of code already out there for developers to slot into their projects.

But there’s one problem.

Ethereum can only process about 15 transactions per second. And the huge amount of computing power needed has gotten expensive. Some transactions can cost over $100 each.

What if there were a way to take the developer-friendly world of Ethereum and make it much, much faster?

That’s where Polygon comes in. Polygon can run at up to 65,000 transactions per second, far faster than even Visa’s huge network.

But developers can still use Ethereum-compatible blockchains and take advantage of the huge amount of code already available on Ethereum.

Similar to an API company like Plaid, the success of a smart contract platform like Polygon is all about developer adoption. The more widely it’s used, the more valuable it becomes.

Given that developers can write code on a platform they’re used to, I think Polygon will have a big advantage over most. It shows in the numbers: daily active users have gone from 750 at the beginning of the year to 192,000 in August.

Polygon is being used for a lot more than price speculation. The most popular project is QuickSwap, which lets you trade 100 cryptocurrency pairs quickly and easily.

My favorite project is Polymarket, where you can bet on real world events like elections or court cases. This could be useful for predicting the weather, a major need of agriculture businesses.

So will I be buying Polygon?

Despite its impressive technology, in a high risk investment like this, I’m looking for the possibility of a 100x return. I’d look for the same in a tech startup.

At a fully diluted market cap of $18 billion, Polygon may have already become so successful that it doesn’t make an ideal investment for me.

But I’ll be watching this awesome team to see what they come up with next!

More on tech:

How Elrond Could Take Over Payments Worldwide

How Tech Could Stop Wildfires

How Solana Could Wipe Out Visa and MasterCard

Photo: “File:Raspberry Pi Bitcoin Mining (14673305874).jpg” by Gareth Halfacree from Bradford, UK is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

AMC May Issue Its Own Cryptocurrency, Per CEO

Fascinating news from AMC:

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., already bolstered in the past year by technology, may go even further by issuing its own cryptocurrency.

The Leawood-based company’s CEO, Adam Aron, said on CNBC that the company is getting “hyperactive” when it comes to cryptocurrency, though he added that the idea is one of several the giant theater chain is working on.


I think this is an excellent idea. AMC’s business is on an upward trend, but it still suffers from heavy debt.

Its debt, at nearly $6 billion, far exceeds its cash balance of $1.8 billion, per the most recent quarterly report.

AMC could use a lot more capital to pay off that debt and free itself to pursue a bright future. But shareholders recently voted against the issuance of new shares that could’ve brought in over $1 billion.

They don’t want their ownership position diluted, of course.

But issuing a cryptocurrency dilutes no one. It’s essentially free money.

Given the intense interest in AMC by the meme crowd, I would expect these coins to do rather well. AMC could use that money to pay off some debt and be in a stronger position for the future.

Kudos to CEO Adam Aron for this innovative idea! I hope he pursues it.

More on markets:

Robinhood Exec Dumped AMC Right Before He Limited Trades, Lawsuit Alleges

AMC Has Burned Short Sellers for $4 Billion in 2021, Per Latest Data

Will Evergrande Spark a Global Financial Crisis?

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Amazon Business American Express Card

You already shop on Amazon. Why not save $100?

If you’re approved for this card, you get a $100 Amazon gift card. You also get up to 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% on restaurants/gas stations/cell phone bills, and 1% everywhere else.

Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order.