SpaceFund is a forward-thinking tokenized venture fund. If you’ve ever wanted to invest in the inevitable future of space travel, this offers the liquidity that is so often lacking in traditional space investments.
Investing in space start-ups, or even established space companies requires the foresight to understand that commercial space travel is the next frontier. SpaceX is projecting a lunar tourism mission in 2023, and Blue Origin is planning on launching space tourism in 2019.
Outside of these two industry giants there are 100s of scrappy start-ups that are competing to supply these five major sectors of space:
- Transportation on and off different planetary bodies and moving around in space.
- Communication – Transmission of data, WiFi, etc.
- Human Factors – Anything required to maintain human life in space.
- Supplies – Supply chains for both humans and robots in space.
- Energy capture and distribution for use in space or on earth.
SpaceFund will strategically invest in the companies which they believe are best positioned to take advantage of these five sectors. This solves a major problem which most investors have: lack of knowledge about this specialized field.
SpaceFund was started by a team of serial space entrepreneurs. The team has detailed knowledge of the industry and they currently manage the SpaceFund Reality Rating system which monitors 100s of companies and the probable success of the launch vehicles they are working on.
This is the industry’s first ratings system based on detailed analysis, publicly available data, and expert insights. This insider window into the industry enables them to strategically invest in companies that have a higher than average probability of success.
Another problem with investing in this sector is the long window before liquidity can be expected. Fortunately, a tokenized space fund solves the liquidity issue as these tokens can be traded on regular tokenized security exchanges such as OpenFinance.
The team is where SpaceFund differentiates itself.
Founding Partner – Rick is co-founder of several space companies and non-profits including Deep Space Industries, Orbital Outfitters, the New Worlds Institute, and the Space Frontier Foundation. He has been voted as one of the top 100 most influential people in the space industry by Space news. On top of this he has been invited for numerous Tedx talks, including the one below:
Managing Partner – Meagan is a pioneer, she has co-founded the world’s longest running space business plan competition, and has taught, coached, and advised hundreds of space startups through their earliest stages – including some of the current generation of successful companies.
The team also has some heavy hitter blockchain veterans including:
General Partner – Co-founder of 7 tech startups before 30. A pioneer in decentralized applications, he co-founded the first crypto angel investor group and co-founded the first all-crypto venture fund. He is also the founder of Yeoman’s Capital, the world’s first all-crypto family office.
General Partner – Co-founder of Factom, and advisor to Storj, Polymath, Rivetz and TrustRank.
General Partner – Founding member of the Silicon Valley Blockchain Society, and a member of the Board of Advisors for Factom.
The team behind this investment is serious about space, as they live and breathe the industry. When I asked Rick Tumlinson and Meagan Crawford if they would sign up to colonize Mars, both answered that yes absolutely they would, but that they prefer to be called ‘Settlers’.
When asked about the thinking behind a tokenized fund, they informed me that investors in blockchain understand the future and the potential for space better than traditional VCs. Being involved in this community I look forward to the success of this innovative fund.
Matthew Le Merle, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Fifth Era and Keiretsu Capital – Interview Series
Matthew Le Merle is co-founder and Managing Partner of Fifth Era and Keiretsu Capital – the most active early stage venture investors backing almost 200 companies a year. He is Chairman of Securitize (Europe) and CAH, Vice Chairman SFOX and an advisor at Warburg Pincus.
He is also the Co-Author of Blockchain Competitive Advantage, a book that we highly recommend for both entrepreneurs and investors in the space that is available at Amazon, Apple, and Smashwords in hard and paperback, ebook and audible.
You have been an early stage technology investor in Silicon Valley for decades including at Keiretsu and Band of Angels. Is this where you were first introduced to blockchain, and what initially excited you about the technology?
While both Alison Davis (my wife and business partner) and I have been early stage investors in Silicon Valley since the late 1990’s we had focused on Internet, digital content and Fintech investing. For me that included investing as Managing Partner at Keiretsu – the most active early stage investors in the US – and as a member of Band of Angels. We have made several dozen investments in that timeframe and have seen hundreds more made by the investors that we work most closely with.
However, it was Alison that first became excited by blockchain. She has been a public board company director for decades including currently at RBS, Fiserv, Collibra and Ooma. It was the former (RBS) where she chairs the Innovation and Technology committee of the board that led to her needing to understand Bitcoin in 2013. She went on her own voyage of discovery that eventually led to her joining Bart and Brad Stephens and Spencer Bogart at Blockchain Capital as their Advisory Board Chairman.
For my own part, I initially resisted the idea of blockchain. From the 1990’s onwards I had worked with companies like Cisco, eBay, Google, Microsoft, PayPal and others driving the Internet forward and I was reticent to climb on a bandwagon with people who were saying that blockchain would be bigger than the Internet. In time I came to appreciate that as we move the world forwards towards a fully digital future, we will need enabling technologies like blockchain to complete the journey. We have to solve the issues that the Internet currently has including security, identity, concentration, and the lack of native digital monies and assets.
By 2016 I was fully onboard. Better late than never as they say.
Today in addition to being an active investor in the space, I am Chairman of Securitize in Europe and Vice Chairman of SFOX. I would say that being close to the leading global solution for digital securities and the leading crypto prime dealer has given me insights that are greatly informing our Blockchain Coinvestors investment thesis.
In your book you mention that investors often “miss the forest for the trees”, could you share what you mean by this?
I don’t remember exactly where in ‘Blockchain Competitive Advantage’ we say that. However, investors tend to get very focused on the investments that they have and the ones that fill their mindspace. For most investors that means fixed income, public investments and some large cap real estate. But without exception those are relatively low returning asset classes. Over the last 25 years their annual net IRR has been around 3%, 9 to 10% and 8% respectively. Meanwhile, the driving forces of our time are the digitalization of our world and everything within it, as well as the life sciences revolution that is changing the very essence of life (for better or worse). This is why over the same 25 years the annual net IRR for venture capital has been 24% rising to an impressive 32% in the early stage of venture capital in the US.
We see most investors around the world putting most of their money in easily available, low returning, and relatively efficient asset classes. That is ironic, since we were all taught that only in inefficient markets can we hope for superior returns.
The superior returns of the last twenty years, and we believe of the next, will be derived from technology enabled companies that are driving the digital future and are capitalizing on new disruptive technologies such as AI, big data, the Internet of things, blockchain and so on.
We can’t understand why so many professional investors put most of their capital into low returning asset classes when they all intuitively know that the future will not be the same as the past.
You call this period of unprecedented innovation and disruption the Fifth Era. Could you elaborate on this?
Alison and I were very worried when we first heard the term the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” being used by many of the board directors and senior executives with whom we work and spend time. They seemed to think that the world’s innovators and most innovative companies were merely evolving the Industrial world forwards. Moving incrementally forward along the path that the world began some two hundred years ago when it discovered mass production, new energy sources, and the corporate model of organization with its focus on economies of scale and scope. As we talked with these friends we realized that this mindset was leading them down mental paths that were not helpful.
This is not an evolution of the past, or a new phase of the industrial revolution. Rather we are moving into an entirely new era of human existence in which the very conceptual underpinnings of the Industrial Era are being challenged and, in many cases, undermined.
We believe that if you accept this notion that the future is going to be fundamentally different from the Industrial era that we are passing out of, then you naturally take on a mindset that allows you to better see the shape of what is coming – the ‘wood for the trees’ if you will.
So, we named this new future the ‘Fifth Era’ in our book “Corporate Innovation in the Fifth Era“.
How can investors best capitalize on this Fifth Era that we are entering?
That is at one and the same time both very easy and very hard.
It is easy because all you have to do is change your allocations from a dominance of fixed income, public equities and large cap real estate towards a great allocation to private investments and especially early stage technology company investments. Just like the best investors have done years ago. For example, among endowments, everyone has heard of how Harvard, Stanford and Yale allocated more to early stage private investments twenty years or so ago, and have become the highest performing university investors of our time.
But most endowments globally do little of this investing even though they have heard the story for years. Why?
Because it is also hard. Much harder than creating combinations and permutations of publicly traded stocks and ETF’s. And much harder to access given that the big advisors, wealth managers, banks and so on only really have access to fixed income, public equities and large cap real estate. They make it easy to keep your capital in those asset classes. They tell a story that it is very hard to access the highest performing asset classes and that their performance is ‘fake’ or ‘illusory’. So, it in practice does become hard to step out and become a different type of investor. But primarily because you believe it is going to be hard and so in many cases don’t really try very hard to change how you invest – it is a mindset issue.
For those of us that have focused on creating the access for ourselves, we have done so. Whether angels, venture capitalists or investors in early stage venture funds, we have found a way to get capital into the hands of the most capable innovators and their companies.
But the easy path in investing is to focus on the access others will give to you, and that is always to the large, efficient asset classes which represent the past rather than the future.
In your book you detail current “barriers of adoption” for both DAPPs and blockchain projects. What do you feel are the current “barriers of adoption” for digital securities?
For the most part we believe that the world’s capital will continue to flow through the hands of the largest institutions who manage the capital on behalf of others (pension funds, endowments, insurers etc) and will be invested into products created by the world’s leading asset managers. And that these flows will continue to be highly regulated and will include traditional intermediaries, exchanges and so on.
While that may not be a popular view within the blockchain community, and we do agree that peer to peer, and direct access will become much more important in the future as well, we hold to the view that the bulk of the world’s assets will pass through traditional players.
So, the mass of digital security solutions have to be delivered in the context of the transformation of existing investment ecosystems. That is a significant challenge, not only because we have to deploy new technology solutions in order to create digital securities, but we also have to solve the issues of security, identity and trust and so on. Furthermore, we need to do this with existing players and within the context of existing regulatory structures. This is a very complex task of education, development and harmonization on a global scale. It is this task that the team at Securitize has taken on and we are very excited to be helping them in this regard.
While in the long tail it may be easier to bring point solutions of digital securities to specific groups of investors through new digital channels, we don’t think those represent the mass of adoption that will eventually come to the space. They are very important trailblazing evidence of what is possible, and we like to invest in those players too. At SFOX we are lucky to be working with the team that built the leading crypto prime dealer and it is amazing to see how they have not only combined the world’s exchanges and OTC brokers to create unprecedented liquidity in Bitcoin and other traded cryptomonies, but to also deliver the lowest prices and best trading edge to their clients. Once again, we can’t understand the inertia that leads to investors using solutions that are higher priced and less capable.
But the dog is the transformation of today’s investment marketplaces, while the tail is the creation of new disruptive investment marketplaces.
You and Alison are the Managing Partners of Blockchain Coinvestors which invests through investment vehicles into well-known blockchain companies, with an emphasis on early stage equity investing. Could you tell us a bit more about the size of this fund and the companies that it will invest in?
By law I can’t talk about the fund itself to an audience I don’t know, but I can share our investment strategies.
Simply put, we believe that the best practices of early stage investing continue to be true and will be the drivers of value creation in blockchain investing too. These are simple to say, but hard to execute. Invest early in the best teams alongside the best investors focused on the space. Get the broadest and most diversified coverage you can without diverging from this core strategy. Do it on a global scale. Make sure that the combined portfolio of companies that you are invested in has access to the capabilities, relationships, and other advantages that mark out the winners from the also ran. Then look for follow on investing opportunities as the emerging unicorns begin to surface.
For Blockchain Coinvestors this means that we are investors in the top 10 to 15 blockchain venture investors around the world including 1confirmation, 1kx, Blockchain Capital, Blockchain Ventures, BluFolio, Castle Island, DCG, Fabric, Future/Perfect, Ideo, Pantera and others. We have a combined portfolio now approaching 100 blockchain companies and are investors through this strategy in 9 of the 15 blockchain unicorns.
The access has taken us six years to build and we are very excited to be able to deploy capital in this way. We are always interested in talking to investors who want to learn more.
When looking at investment opportunities you like to forecast the state of the industry in ten years. Could you describe the future that you envision for digital securities ten years from now?
It is inconceivable to us that in the future there will be ANY paper based securities. Despite the fact that today more than half of the world’s assets are held on paper – most real estate, most funds, most private corporate investments, many fixed income investments and so on – that can’t be the future.
So, we are absolutely confident in asserting that in the future ALL securities will be digital.
Of course, the question is what is the path to that digital future and what will be the timing by asset class and by geography.
In the next ten years we believe that the world’s major financial centers will all have embraced digitalization across all asset classes and that the best issuers, investors, intermediaries and exchanges in those global financial centers will have made it a long way towards that future. The leading global financial centers have to be innovation leaders to remain in the lead and as we speak to the leadership in New York, London, Zurich, Tokyo, San Francisco, Chicago, Hong Kong and so on, we hear them saying exactly this back to us.
However, that does not mean that in ten years ALL securities will be digital. Just like you can still buy vinyl records, or classic cars, we are sure you will still be able to buy some paper from someone if you want to hold your capital in that format.
Though we are not sure why you would want to.
At Securities.io we often come across projects promising to tokenize everything from VC funds, to art and real estate. Which type of tokenization projects make the most sense to you, and have the most potential for real-world mass market adoption?
We think investors want quality assets that they know represent good investments from blue chip names that vouch for them, are prepared to ensure quality issuance, custody, trading and settlement etc. So, for us, quality matters in investments. So, it is less an issue of which asset class, and more an issue of whether the specific investment is a quality one.
The good news is that at Securitize and SFOX we are working with players that are keen to bring some of the world’s most attractive asset classes to a native digital format, and you should expect to see these types of offering later this year and in 2021.
Do you have any final words for investors in the space?
The main thoughts we would like to leave your readers with are:
– Investing in the future has got to be better than investing in the past
– The highest returns come from early stage technology investing. This is a fact, not simply an assertion
– You can have access if you want it. But it won’t come from traditional players who wish to keep your capital in easily accessible, efficient and low returning asset classes
– Finally, all the world’s asset will be digital in a digital world, and blockchain will be an important part of making that happen
To learn more about how Matthew views investing opportunities in the blockchain space we recommend reading Blockchain Competitive Advantage.
SpaceFund One Invests in a Promising Trio
It was recently announced that SpaceFund has completed the first round of investments for their ‘SpaceFund One’ portfolio.
This marks an important step forward for the company, as it marks the transition from potential to actuality in their plans.
What is it?
SpaceFund hosts investment portfolios, curated by a team of forward thinking professionals, enveloped and shaped by Space based ventures. The first fund created by the team is known as ‘SpaceFund One’, and is still open for further investments by accredited investors.
The team behind the project makes use of blockchain technologies to tokenize ownership of the companies it chooses to invest in. In turn, start-ups working toward the future of space based endeavours gain access to much needed capital, while investors can play a role in helping them succeed – all the while benefiting from increased liquidity on their investment. Such liquidity is made possible by platforms such as OpenFinance, which supports secondary market trading of digital securities (including SpaceFund tokens ‘SF1’).
When SpaceFund was first getting off the ground, securities.io CEO, Antoine Tardif, took the time to share his thoughts on the company. Make sure to peruse the following article to learn more about the team behind the project, and what it is they are trying to achieve.
The first round of investments for their first fund is comprised of three promising companies – each vastly different from the other.
Made in Space
3D printing has improved by leaps and bounds over the past decade. The next leap for this useful technology will see it put to use in Space. The potential that 3D printing holds for cost savings, surrounding space based endeavours, is staggering; Enough so that Made in Space caught the attention of NASA in early 2019 – resulting in a $73.7M contract by the authorities on space.
CEO, Andrew Rush, currently oversees company operations.
Commercial space travel has captivated the imaginations of humans around the world for years now. However, for this to become a reality, there needs to be a commercial based space station. Axiom looks to make this a reality by learning from, and improving on, the International Space Station (ISS). In fact, the Axiom station will begin its life as an extension, or ‘node,’ of the ISS. This relationship benefiting both, with the ISS seeing increased crew capacities and research capabilities.
Operations at Axiom are overseen by CEO, Michael Suffredini.
With a means of perpetual energy yet to be discovered/developed, Earth’s satellites and Space based vehicles are dependent on more traditional forms of fuel. Orbit Fab looks to service this need by developing technologies and infrastructure to support space based refuelling stations. While this may seem like a simple concept, the execution is anything but.
Orbit Fab sees their operations spearheaded by a pair of co-founders – Daniel Faber and Jeremy Schiel.
Founded in 2018, SpaceFund maintains headquarters in Houston, Texas. Above all, the company operates as a VC firm, with a focus on utilizing blockchain technologies to facilitate space based endeavours.
Founding Partner – Rick Tumlinson, currently oversees company operations.
In Other News
While SpaceFund remains quite unique with regards to the nature of companies they are looking to invest in, the idea of a tokenized investment fund has become quite popular. The following articles are just a few which shed light on other funds which make use of a similar approach to their structuring.
Protos – Worlds 1st Tokenized Hedge Fund Trades Publicly
The world of tokenized assets continues to expand into the traditional financial sector. This month, the world’s first tokenized hedge fund, Protos (PRTS), became available to public investors via the OpenFinance trading platform.
The Protos hedge fund reads like a whos-who of early crypto projects including classics like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Monero. The fund initially made headlines after Protos successfully sold over $6.5 million worth of tokens during its initial release. Now, developers are ready to allow Main Street investors a chance to trade this diverse investment instrument.
The Protos fund trades on the OpenFinance Network which is an SEC-registered Alternative Trading System (ATS). As an ATS, OFN can offer users additional functionalities not available to traditional investors. These benefits include faster transactions, lower fees, and the ability to trade 24-hours a day. Comparingly, Wall Street investors can only trade hedge funds during the hours of 9:30 – 4:00 pm. Also, trading closes on national holidays.
Protos Hedge Fund
Protos investors gain access to a variety of early blockchain projects. These projects include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero, Ada, XRP and zCash to name just a few. Speaking on what projects made the cut, company executives stated that the fund includes a host of highly liquid projects.
Additionally, Protos partnered with a number of additional token issuance platforms including Polymath to make the project a success. The Photos tokenized hedge fund operates as a security token per SEC guidelines. Notably, the token utilizes the Securitize DS Protocol to ensure lifetime compliance.
OpenFinance Network – OFN
OpenFinance is one of only a few security token exchanges. Currently, OFN lists six security tokens including the highly publicized Spice VC token. According to the SEC registration, OFN’s license allows the platform to trade Reg D, Reg A+, Reg CF, and Reg S exemptions.
In a recent interview, OFN CEO Juan Hernandez praised the benefits of Reg A+ listings. He spoke on how companies can list tokens faster and with fewer requirements. Also, firms can raise up to $50 million in each Reg A+ campaign. When tokenized, Reg A+ crowdfunding events provide even further incentives.
For example, in the past, only accredited investors could participate in these events. An accredited investor must show at least $1 million in liquid assets. As you could imagine, the majority of investors were left out of the loop. This strategy hurt companies the most because they were unable to accept more funds. Tokenization allows companies to receive funding from any investor globally.
SEC Opens Doors to Reg A+ Token Offerings
The SEC’s recent decision to begin Reg A+ approvals provides companies with some guidance as to how to proceed with an STO legally. In the past, companies complained about a lack of transparency in the sector. This lack of clarity creates a roadblock to large scale adoption. Today, Hernandez believes the advantages of tokenization are undeniable, and that investors will steer the market towards these services as they become more widely understood.
Protos Envisions the Future
The Protos hedge fund is a glimpse of what the financial markets will hold in the future. The fund’s diverse holdings are ideal for investors that desire to own a piece of the most important crypto projects released to date.