Blockchain technology offers the promise of a new era of secure, decentralized transfer of value on the internet—a future less reliant on trusted intermediaries and gatekeepers. Some have described blockchain as Web 3.0, unlocking the true vision of what the internet was meant to be, where users of applications are also the owners. Despite their recent—and signature—volatility, digital assets have grown into a $2 trillion market that extends well beyond Bitcoin and is attracting entrepreneurs, investors and corporate support at an accelerating rate. There is clearly a lot of innovation both in digital assets—or cryptocurrencies—as well as with the underlying blockchain technology. But how much is legitimate excitement about this revolutionary technology, and how much is inflated exuberance?
To explore the potential, and examine some of the questions hanging over the industry, Brown Advisory’s Sid Ahl sat down with three crypto experts: Joe Lallouz, Founder and CEO of Bison Trails (acquired by Coinbase); Ash Egan, Partner, Accomplice; and Ria Bhutoria, Principal, Castle Island Ventures.
Be sure to stay tuned for the Brown Advisory investment team’s perspectives, when Erika Pagel, CIO of Sustainable Investing, and Ken Coe, Financial Services Equity Analyst, join Sid (at 51:00) to share their takeaways.
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Sid Ahl: Cryptocurrencies have grown into a $2 trillion market. VC funding into blockchain projects has more than tripled this year to over $15 billion. And blockchain-based based decentralized exchanges, essentially software programs with catchy names like Uniswap and Sushiswap, have processed a staggering $450B of cryptocurrencies transactions in just the first 6 months of this year. Big banks and payment processors – like Visa, JP Morgan, Square and PayPal -- have rushed to implement their own blockchain projects and connect to this new avenue of growth and potential. Meanwhile investors have been forced to examine the potential of a new class of Digital Assets.
Most of you have probably heard of Bitcoin, but the potential of blockchain may have less to do with Bitcoin and more to do with decentralized, blockchain based applications that cryptocurrency enthusiasts believe could re-imagine the world of software, re-wire our outdated financial infrastructure and lead to a future where users become owners in the next generation of the internet.
But there are still many questions hanging over the industry, from its incredible volatility and issues scaling to compete with existing Internet and software infrastructure, to the uncertain regulatory environment and concerns over the energy usage required to run these blockchains.
I’m Sid Ahl, I’m the Chief Investment Officer of our Private Client, Endowments and Foundations business, and I’ve been spending a lot time thinking about the power, potential and pitfalls of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.
To help us better understand this fast-changing area of innovation, I sat down with three blockchain experts to explain the technology and tell us what excites and worries them most in the space today. Stay tuned after my conversation with our experts, Joe, Ash and Ria – I’m going to bring in a couple of my colleagues to unpack some of the investment takeaways.
Mrinalini "Ria" Bhutoria
Principal, Castle Island Ventures
CEO, Bison Trails; Partner, Ambush Capital
Sid Ahl, CFA
CIO for Private Client, Endowments and Foundations, Brown AdvisorySid is a partner, a member of the Executive Team, serves as chief investment officer for private client, endowments and foundations, and head of the New York office. He is responsible for advising individuals and institutions on investment portfolios that contain significant allocations to alternative investments and have a high tolerance for less liquid investments. Prior to joining Brown Advisory in 2012, he was a partner and director of research at CDK for 10 years, where his initial focus was on hedge fund manager research and the design of hedge fund portfolios. Prior to CDK he was a senior consultant with FactSet Research, advising hedge funds, institutional investors and private wealth managers in the areas of portfolio risk management and quantitative modeling.
Kenneth Coe, CFA
Equity Research Analyst, Brown AdvisoryKen is an equity research analyst covering the financial sector and is also an associate portfolio manager of the Sustainable Small-Cap Core strategy. Prior to joining the firm, he served as an analyst at First Annapolis Consulting and also worked on a financial econometrics research study.
CIO of Sustainable InvestingErika is a partner, a member of the Executive Team, and serves as chief investment officer of sustainable investing and as a portfolio manager in the Boston office. She manages balanced accounts for private and institutional clients. Erika has worked in the investment management industry since 1996. Prior to Brown Advisory, she was an investment advisor at Silver Bridge Advisors. Erika started her career at MFS Investment Management before working in sell-side Equity Research for eight years following large cap pharmaceuticals, household products, consumer and retail sectors at Schroder & Co and then UBS Investment Bank. More recently, she was an analyst following consumer and retail companies at a hedge fund, Balyasny Asset Management. For more than 10 years, Erika’s has been researching investment options in the sustainability industry and helping clients build portfolios that are aligned with their mission and values.
S3 | Episode 1 | Investing in Nature-Based Climate Solutions: A Climate Week Conversation with M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation InternationalSeptember 23, 2021
Nature-based factors and challenges have a real impact on our economies, lives and investments. To kick off Season 3 of the NOW podcast, Brown Advisory's Karina Funk sits down with Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, for a special Climate Week episode. They discuss the critical need to invest in biodiversity; in the irrecoverable carbon in mangroves, tropical forests and peat lands; and in the indigenous communities that depend on these natural ecosystems to protect commodities, supply chains, public health and the planet.
Later in the podcast, Karina talks with Mike Hankin, Brown Advisory's CEO, about how sustainability can be a powerful tool to create stronger businesses and drive long-term growth.