Tag Archives: ETH

Seeing Through SBF: How One VC Found the Truth

The best venture firms in the world stand to lose billions in the FTX collapse. But one man saw through Sam Bankman-Fried.


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His name is Alexander Pack. Pack planned to invest millions in FTX, until the red flags started to mount.

Pack, managing partner of Dragonfly Capital at the time and currently of Hack.vc, was bewitched by SBF at first. From a new report in Fortune:

“He seemed like one of the smartest people I’ve ever met…He looks different from everybody else; he thinks different from them. So yeah, I was very taken with him. We all were. That’s why we spent so much time and were so interested in it.”

For all SBF’s charisma, warning signs began to appear. The profits of his trading firm, Alameda Research, were dropping bit by bit.

It turned out SBF wasn’t focused on the business he was pitching Pack. Instead, he was working on a new crypto exchange called FTX.

[Pack] was interested in SBF’s new exchange, but Bankman-Fried balked and supposedly told Pack he couldn’t invest in the separate business. Bankman-Fried, he says, haggled, telling Pack he would have to pay more if he wanted exposure. “And that was a big red flag, obviously for our investment,” Pack said.

Pack was right to take this as a huge red flag. A founder who’s distracted from day one isn’t a good bet.

SBF also became increasingly secretive:

“He wouldn’t tell us who [the investors] were because he didn’t want us to talk to them,” Pack said.

Bankman-Fried thought if the seed investors knew he was considering taking venture funding, the seed investors might redeem their money, Pack said.

Pack asked him how he would deal with the situation. “And Sam said, ‘Oh, I probably just won’t tell them at all. You know, we’ll keep it secret. We’ll figure out some way to keep it secret.’”

Pack realized that the FTX founder could easily keep valuable information from him as well. “That was definitely one of the flags,” he said.

Pack is 100% right that if SBF will deceive his existing investors, he’ll deceive Pack too.

What’s more, existing investors should be your biggest cheerleaders! You should be begging prospective investors to talk to them and find out how great you are.

And why would those early investors want to sell if the company was doing well?

In all, we have a picture of a distracted, unscrupulous founder. With hundreds of deals available at any given time, why choose this one?

Pack was considering investing just a couple of million dollars. But he appears to have done more diligence than the giant firms that put in hundreds of millions!

Those big firms have huge teams to diligence a company backward and forward. But they were outmaneuvered by little old Pack.

The lessons for founders and investors are clear.

Founders must be focused and keep their financials tight. And investors should be wary of distracted, secretive, and unscrupulous entrepreneurs.

What do you think of the FTX collapse? Leave a comment below and let me know!

More on tech:

Is SBF Headed to Prison?

Tiger Global Losing $185 Million a Day

Where Did Sequoia Go Wrong on FTX?

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Photo: FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried

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?

Photo: “Solana Beach, CA Neon Sign” by JoeInSouthernCA is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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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

Photo: “Computer Circuit Board” by Defence Images is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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