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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Episode Introduction

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based applications that cryptocurrency enthusiasts believe could re-imagine the world of software, re-wire our outdated financial infrastructure and lead to a future where users become owners in the next generation of the internet.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.

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Ash Egan

Ash Egan

Partner, Accomplice

Ash Egan is a Partner at Accomplice focusing on early stage blockchain and crypto investments. Previously, he was a founding Principal on the venture team at ConsenSys and began his career in venture at Converge VC. Ash has been investing in blockchain/crypto companies since 2015, leading investments in Balancer, BlockFi, Bison Trails, Chainalysis, FalconX, Near and dozens of others. Ash was selected as Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2020 for Venture Capital and received his AB in American Politics from Princeton University.
Joe Lallouz

Joe Lallouz

CEO, Bison Trails; Partner, Ambush Capital

After extensive corporate and start-up experience in fintech, e-commerce, and infrastructure Joe Lallouz co-founded Bison Trails, a blockchain infrastructure company helping democratize access to blockchain networks. Lallouz is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor in New York City, as well as the founder and CEO of Ambush Labs and a partner at Ambush Capital. He was the Business Head for Etsy’s Innovation Group where he was responsible for new ventures such as Pattern, Etsy’s website building suite service, and Fund on Etsy, crowdfunding for Etsy sellers. Joe was a co-founder of Grand St., an online marketplace for creative technology, acquired by Etsy in 2014. During his time at Grand St, Lallouz led engineering, product, and strategy. Lallouz holds a dual BS from RPI concentrating in Electrical Computer Systems Engineering and Economics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.



Sid Ahl

Sid Ahl, CFA

CIO for Private Client, Endowments and Foundations, Brown Advisory

Sid 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.


Investment Commentary

Kenneth Coe, CFA

Kenneth Coe, CFA

Equity Research Analyst, Brown Advisory

Ken 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.
Erika Pagel

Erika Pagel

CIO of Sustainable Investing

Erika 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.



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