CRYPTO: Takeaways from Consensus:Invest and Overstock developments.

We moderated a panel on crypto funds (Pantera, Milticoin, Outlier Ventures) at Coindesk's Consensus:Invest conference, as well as appeared on a fun Coindesk Live segment. The general sentiment was that across strategies -- trading, passive, venture -- the funds are very optimistic about a long term horizon, ignoring short term volatility. Of course they have no choice but to tell that story! Second, the event felt very institutional and focused on financialization. That means that there were many security token, custody and exchange solutions, and that many people were garbed in formal dress. While retail peak may have been December 2017, enterprise solutions are coming to market now, and will be catalyzing a very different environment next year. Anecdotally, this New York event was more coherent in its finance vector than the recent European blockchain and token conferences that we have attended.

This institutionalization is also echoing also in larger public companies. See Amazon launching blockchain-as-a-service inside AWS. Or take Overstock -- a discount version of Amazon helmed by outspoken eccentric capitalist Patrick Byrne (not to be confused with Tim Draper, John McAfee or David Byrne) -- which is planning to sell its entire retail business in order to focus on tZero, the blockchain capital markets arm. The company's price is already highly correlated with Bitcoin, and it just feels like Patrick will have a lot more fun running a fintech company.

We dislike this for a few reasons. The first is that Overstock is a commerce destination, and it would be nice if cryptocurrencies, stablecoins or other Frankensteins, were actually used to buy stuff. So that maybe goes away. And second, we remember Overstock launching a roboadvisor, and claiming that the eCommerce footprint was going to be a distribution arm. Well, not if you don't have traffic. There is meaningful money to be made form institutional-grade capital markets on blockchain infrastructure -- but everyone from Nasdaq to Fidelity to JP Morgan is already chasing that dream. Who's going to sell cat food and crypto to the little guy?

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Source: Coindesk Live (video), CNBC (Overstock)