Investing in Blockchain: Decentralized Tokens and Incentives

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This article is a summary of a YouTube video "Blockchain Investing - Olaf Carlson-Wee and Aaron Harris" by Y Combinator
TLDR Tokens and monetary incentives are driving the growth and development of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, with projects like Filecoin, 0x, and Maker utilizing decentralized architectures and network effects to create value.

Blockchain Investing Strategies and Opportunities

  • 💼
    Olaf Carlson-Wee describes blockchain investing as a combination of venture investment and hedge fund strategies, where investments are made based on early-stage ideas and specifications, but also require managing liquidity and risk due to the volatility of liquid markets.
  • 💰
    "Bitcoin is the largest fear of kings and those in power across the world dressed up as a get-rich-quick scheme."
  • 📈
    Tokens serve as an incentive structuring and game theory hack to drive network effects around specific applications, similar to creating shares for a new company to generate upside relative to that specific application.
  • 💡
    Adding monetary incentives to open source projects can help creators capture the value they generate, unlike traditional donation-based models like Wikipedia, potentially leading to more sustainable and impactful contributions.
  • 💰
    The speed at which capital is coordinating to back massive breakthroughs in blockchain technology is unprecedented and presents a massive opportunity for investors and entrepreneurs.
  • 🌍
    The speed and amount of money being diverted to blockchain projects is mind-boggling, suggesting that we are only at the beginning of this trend.
  • 💰
    "Tasos has raised over two hundred million dollars, making it one of the most exciting and successful crowd sales in the blockchain market."
  • 💰
    The speaker believes that it is better for the value of blockchain investments to go to the developer team rather than traders or financial buyers.

The Potential of Blockchain Technology

  • 🌍
    Evaluating the potential of blockchain technology requires envisioning the future and understanding the needs of developers and users in the next five to ten years.
  • 💡
    Web 3 services have the potential to offer unique capabilities that traditional web services like eBay cannot provide.
  • 🌐
    Services for decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) will become more prevalent, as they can engage in smart contract-based legal arrangements rather than traditional ones.
  • 🤔
    The transition from the centralized web to the decentralized web may initially involve porting existing web applications, but the true innovation lies in the development of web 3 native applications that are yet to be fully understood.
  • ⚡
    The ability to exchange tokens seamlessly and quickly without the need for centralized services or counterparty risk is a game-changer in blockchain investing.

Evolution and Complexity of Blockchain Technology

  • 💰
    Olaf Carlson-Wee was paid exclusively in Bitcoin during his time at Coinbase, which had its ups and downs, but overall he believes it was the right decision.
  • 🤯
    Understanding blockchain goes beyond Bitcoin and Ethereum, with concepts like turing-complete languages, ERC 20 tokens, on-chain governance, and incentivized development on native protocol layers adding layers of complexity.
  • 💡
    The technology behind blockchain is constantly evolving and advancing, often surpassing the cultural understanding of it.


  • What is the focus of PolyChain Capital's hedge fund?

    — PolyChain Capital's hedge fund focuses on blockchain and cryptocurrency assets with a long-only strategy and rebalancing every 90 days.

  • What is Filecoin and what does it do?

    — Filecoin is a decentralized server client architecture that serves as an incentive layer for the IPFS server system, providing high uptime, fast bandwidth, and resiliency.

  • How do tokens create network effects?

    — Tokens create powerful network effects around specific applications and provide embedded incentives for early backers and investors.

  • What is the purpose of crowd sales or ICO fundraising?

    — Crowd sales or ICO fundraising is used as a means of fundraising and coordinating large amounts of capital around blockchain projects.

  • What is Maker and what does it do?

    — Maker is a decentralized stable coin backed by collateral in smart contracts, functioning like a crypto central bank with interest paid to Maker holders and decentralized voting for collateral requirements.

Timestamped Summary

  • 💰
    Founder of PolyChain Capital discusses experience with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, launch of largest blockchain investing hedge fund, and evaluating potential impact of new technologies.
  • 📁
    Filecoin is a decentralized architecture that adds high uptime, fast bandwidth, and resiliency to the IPFS network.
  • 🔑
    Tokens are a game theory hack to create powerful network effects and provide incentives for early backers and investors in the complex world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
  • 💰
    Adding monetary incentives to open source projects will accelerate development and drive growth, with crowd sales and ICO fundraising surpassing seed round financing in dollar terms.
  • 💰
    Speculators help bootstrap the network effect of Bitcoin, leading to a transition from 95% speculation to 5% speculation over time as the network becomes authentically valuable.
  • 💰
    Traders buying tokens during crowd sales hurt authentic users, while uncapped sales may raise more money for developers but still attract speculators.
  • 🤝
    0x and Maker are exciting projects utilizing the etherion protocol to enable decentralized and risk-free token exchange, while stable coins like Maker's DAI are crucial for adoption in prediction markets and e-commerce transactions.
  • 📚
    The IPFS team is a valuable resource for learning about decentralization.
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This article is a summary of a YouTube video "Blockchain Investing - Olaf Carlson-Wee and Aaron Harris" by Y Combinator
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