First Mover: Anything-Goes Token Market Repudiates Rich-Only Venture Capital Club

First Mover: Anything-Goes Token Market Repudiates Rich-Only Venture Capital Club

Cryptocurrency markets could make the clubby world of venture-capital investing more democratic. (Damonrand/Creative Commons, modified by CoinDesk)

was up slightly at about $11,776 early Monday, rising along with European equities, stock futures, gold, copper and oil amid . The dollar weakened. 

The largest cryptocurrency is coming off a 2.2% decline in the seven days through Aug. 23, breaking a four-week string of gains.

You’re reading First Mover, CoinDesk’s daily markets newsletter. Assembled by the CoinDesk Markets Team, First Mover starts your day with the most up-to-date sentiment around crypto markets, which of course never close, putting in context every wild swing in bitcoin and more. We follow the money so you don’t have to. You can .

On the positive side, prices have now spent 27 straight days above $10,000, the third-longest period in the five-digit zone in bitcoin’s 11-year history. According to , the streak suggests “$10,000 as strong support, which typically is a positive medium-term sign.” 

A week after First Mover wrote that cryptocurrency markets are now looking , a new report suggests they also might be more democratic. 

Mason Nystrom, an analyst at the digital-asset data firm Messari, wrote last week that digital tokens are giving “anyone with access to a smartphone or computer” the opportunity to bet on .    

“The open nature of crypto networks has largely removed barriers that restricted early-stage investing to hedge funds or venture capitalists,” Nystrom wrote. “Hopefully, this will result in better capital allocation over time and democratize an industry that has for too long been limited to the wealthy few.”

The business of betting on the next Facebook, Google or Amazon can be risky but lucrative: According to VC News Daily, there’s at least . 

Because of investor-protection rules imposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, clubby venture-capital funds have mostly been restricted to “accredited” individuals – those with a net worth of at least $1 million or annual income of $200,000.  

Now, quick-to-market digital tokens like Compound’s  and Spaghetti’s  are allowing anyone to bet on the fast-growing realm of decentralized finance, or DeFi. According to Token Daily, some of the projects come with “frothy DeFi token valuations.” 

But check out the demand from investors: No fewer than seven DeFi projects have market valuations of $500 million or more. That’s 10 times the size of the Series C funding round that the centralized crypto lender BlockFi .

It’s unclear why the SEC has allowed this culture of unfettered tokenholder democracy to proliferate, with its potential for fast riches alongside the risk of steep losses due to poor execution, scams or fraud.

This month witnessed the meme-worthy spectacle of YAM, whose  within a span of 35 minute because of a programming bug in the unaudited protocol.

Perhaps the SEC is taking a wait-and-see approach. Perhaps the market is too small, young and irrelevant in the midst of a global pandemic to allocate precious agency resources. Perhaps “governance tokens” in “decentralized autonomous organizations” are just too complicated. Maybe they’re even structured in such a way that they don’t run afoul of the rules. 

“Accredited investor regulations are designed in theory to protect average investors from losing a bunch of their money, but they also prevent people from investing in startups, or in certain crypto assets where some people might actually have a decent amount of knowledge,” Messari’s Nystrom said in a Zoom interview.

There’s a lot of similarities between crypto markets and Wall Street, such as fear and greed, leverage and luck. But at least for now, the playing field in crypto might be more level.

– Bradley Keoun, Editor, First Mover

Bearish bets in bitcoin futures from leveraged funds recently rose to record highs on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) – though that doesn’t necessarily imply a fresh sell-off is coming.

Read more: 

– Omkar Godbole, Markets Reporter

0x (): Efforts to reduce congestion on the Ethereum blockchain are .  

Ethereum Classic (): Frequently-targeted blockchain plans . 

Aave () – Protocol ratchets up DeFi returns (and risks) with .

Polkadot (): Leaders of the decentralized-Web project , but as of Sunday the .    

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