Modern Money SmartPod

CoinFund's Chris Perkins Talks Web3 and the Future of Finance

March 11, 2022 SmartBrief Season 2 Episode 2
Modern Money SmartPod
CoinFund's Chris Perkins Talks Web3 and the Future of Finance
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

After graduating from the United States Naval Academy and serving in the US Marine Corps, Chris Perkins started his finance career at Lehman Brothers and eventually became a managing director at Citi, where he was Global Co-Head, Futures, Clearing and FX Prime Brokerage. Then, in the second half of last year, Chris left Citi to become President and Managing Partner at CoinFund.

In this wide-ranging interview, Chris talks about his career pivot and the exciting promise of Web3, including how new advancements like decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) can reshape industries beyond finance. He also offers advice for other finance executives pondering similar career changes and also details the work he is doing to help military veterans transition into careers in digital assets.

DAOs: What the ESG movement can learn from blockchain governance

Citadel's Ken Griffin outbids ConstitutionDAO for the US Constitution

Veterans in Digital Assets -- Twitter -- Podcast

Chris Perkins helps lead Veterans on Wall Street - VOWS

Sign up for Modern Money SmartBrief

Follow this show on Twitter @ModernMoneyPod

Sign up for Modern Money SmartBrief

Follow this show on Twitter @ModernMoneyPod

(Note: This transcript was generated using artificial intelligence. It has not been edited verbatim.)

Colin Hogan  00:14

Hello everyone and welcome to the Modern Money SmartPod. I'm Colin Hogan.

Sean McMahon  00:18

And I'm Sean McMahon.

Colin Hogan  00:20

You know, Sean, the evolution of digital assets in the finance space has been exciting to watch. Major firms that were hesitant to dip their toes in the water on cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. Well, now they're all in.

Sean McMahon  00:34

That's right Colin. Not too long ago, I can remember being on the conference circuit, and the panel discussions about digital assets and blockchain, those were always taking place in some small tiny room, seating capacity and maybe 25 people. Now, those conversations, they're taking place on the main stage.

Colin Hogan  00:51

And another trend we're seeing is that more and more established executives from legacy financial firms. They're transitioning to work for startups and other smaller firms in this blockchain and digital asset space.

Sean McMahon  01:03

And our guest today is someone who recently made that exact career pivot, Chris Perkins. Chris started his career at Lehman Brothers, and eventually became a managing director at Citi, where he was Global Co-Head, Futures, Clearing and FX Prime Brokerage. Then, in the second half of last year, Chris left Citi to become president at CoinFund.

Colin Hogan  01:23

Chris joins us today to talk about how things are going at CoinFund and how the job change is going thus far.

Sean McMahon  01:30

Just as a background, Chris and I met a number of years ago when I wrote a piece about the work he was doing as part of veterans on Wall Street. Chris is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and an Iraq War veteran. That experience has served Chris well throughout his career in financial services. So if you want to read that piece, we're putting a link to it in the show notes.

Colin Hogan  01:48

And if you want to hear more about what Chris and the team at CoinFund are up to, he will be on the main stage -- yes, that's right, the mainstage -- at the International Futures Industry Conference in Boca Raton, Florida.

Sean McMahon  01:59

Speaking of FA Boca, Colin and I are taking this show on the road, and we'll be bringing you updates from that event. And I for one can tell you, it's absolutely awesome that Boca is back in person.

Colin Hogan  02:10

Road trip time! That should be a lot of fun. But for now, here's our conversation with Chris Perkins, president of CoinFund.

Sean McMahon  02:25

Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us for this episode of The Modern Money Smart pod. Today, Colin and I are pleased to welcome our guest, Chris Perkins. Chris is the president of CoinFund. Chris, how're you doing today?

Chris Perkins  02:35

I'm doing great. Thank you so much for having me.

Sean McMahon  02:38

It's a pleasure to have you. So one of the reasons I want to bring you in is that you recently made a change you were at Citi for quite a while and the back half of 2021, you made the move over to CoinFund. So how are things going with the transition?

Chris Perkins  02:51

Yeah, it's going great. I couldn't be happier. Web3 is growing so fast. And there's nothing better than being at the forefront of innovation. We think that what we're witnessing here, and Web3 is going to be bigger than the internet itself. And I'm happy to dive into some of the reasons why we think that's the case. But at the company right now we're building we're working every morning, I wake up. And the first meeting that I have, we've talked about what's happening across the industry, it's moving incredibly fast. And being at the cutting edge, the forefront of innovation, working very closely with founders and entrepreneurs. I couldn't imagine anything more exciting going on right now. And yes, these markets are new. They're a little bit volatile, maybe very volatile, uncertain cases. But ultimately, what I'm doing right now is I have a front row ticket to the birth of a new asset class. And I cannot begin to tell you how exciting that is.

Sean McMahon  03:48

Yeah, it seems to be that, you know, you and I met years ago, and we used to be at conferences. And I know, you know, back then maybe a decade ago, there was all these little side panels talking about this thing called blockchain and these things thing called digital assets. And some of the side panels became the main stage, you know, and it was just totally talked about so much to the point where I was, you know, I used to have a phrase like, I come away from conferences with "Blockchainitis" because everyone would be talking about blockchain. But now it seems like we reached a point where some of that promise that everyone talked about back then is, is really coming becoming a reality. So can you walk us through how the blockchain and digital assets and things like that that market has evolved in the last two or three years?

Chris Perkins  04:23

Yeah, I mean, when you step back, Bitcoin, white paper was launched in 2008. You know, right out of the crisis. Ethereum came around with its smart contract functionality. 2014 2015. And so when you step back, and you think about what we're seeing right now, most of the entire asset class is less than five years old, right? It is super early. Now I remember when I first started getting into the space around 2016 or so. The asset class was very basic, you know, you had this thing called Bitcoin. The smart contract functionality was just coming online. It was very hard to Short there was not that you didn't see borrowing and lending, and all this incredible innovation that we're seeing. As you fast forward to today, we're seeing, like I said earlier, an explosion of value, there's an entire ecosystem that's evolved. almost parallel to what we saw on traditional finance, where you have buy side, you have sell side, you have borrowing, you have lending, you have futures. And what I've had to learn is that I've had to unlearn because the technology unleashes these, these new concepts that allow us to do new and innovative things. I mean, look at the interest that you can gain as an example in in crypto verse traditional finance and traditional finance, I don't know maybe a couple of basis points. If you go on to like look at defy rates right now, you can maybe make 8% on on stable coins. So we've seen this absolute unleashing of innovation. And, you know, as I step back, and I look at traditional market structure, one of the reasons why we have traditional market structure, as it stands today, you know, predicated on intermediaries, is because we didn't have an alternative from a technology perspective, as we looked at what happened with the global financial crisis, right? The global financial crisis was caused by concentration, there was risk that accumulated amongst a handful of banks and broker dealers. And and, you know, I was at Lehman, I saw it firsthand. And so it was really due to that concentration of risk. The policy response to the global financial crisis was even more centralization. Because we just didn't have the technology. And I totally appreciate why policymakers came up with this, they said, Look, we have to bring it together, because we have to see it, we have to collateralize it, etc. But now as we look at what's happening, we have the ability to decentralize using these technologies, and decentralization. If you step back and think about, it may be a better solution, when we're looking at how to manage systemic risk. And so, you know, one of the lessons that I've had to learn is that I've had to unlearn you know, everything that that I had seen in the past, and really embrace what what the new capabilities of the technology can deliver. Now, we look at a number of different verticals in our space, I will tell you that the crypto space is much bigger than just finance, you know, we look at things such as gaming, we look at things such as DAOs. Now maybe people listening to the podcast, I've never heard of a DAO before maybe they heard of ConstitutionDAO, I think Dallas are going to be humongous, I think you're gonna see, you know, well over a trillion dollars of assets in the next couple of years. And what DAOs are, is they are effectively communities that form, they have a treasury, they have ideals, and then the members of that community elect what to do with the Treasury. So we look at Dallas, we look at infrastructure, I will tell you, one of the big gaps that we see in Web3 right now is around user experience that's coming together. It's a little bit fragmented. So we look at infrastructure, solutions, everything from you know, blockchains and layer ones to layer twos to everything in between messaging, things of that sort. We also look at defy decentralized finance. And the other thing that's interesting as you look at these various verticals, oh, and by the way, NF T's would love to talk about NF T's we are, you know, that's such a massive use case for blockchain technology, we actually have a separate holding company that focuses fully on on the NFT vertical.

Sean McMahon  08:20

Okay, just just to jump in real quick. So, just for listeners who aren't familiar with the DAO's, you know, you're talking about decentralized, autonomous organizations do doubt, that's gonna help to tell our listeners,

Chris Perkins  08:30

guys, yeah, we go down this rabbit hole, and we get really excited. And then we start throwing words around. But anyway, so we see these various verticals across the space. And in a way, they're also interconnected. Because, you know, now we have gaming, right. And the thing about Web3 is that in web two, all the economics accrue to centralized companies essentially. So if you think about your own web to experience is pretty nice. Like, you know, it's a good user experience. We have social media and everything else. But everything that you do, the economics, your personal data, if you buy tokens in the game, it all accrues to a central counterparty. What we're seeing now in Web3 is we unlock private property in the internet. So content creators can monetize their own data. In the case of gaming, we now have this concept of play to earn, which was an x infinity is probably the largest use case where people actually are playing a game and they're earning tokens and you know, it's translate to valuable assets as they play the game. So we're seeing this interconnectedness, where you have, you know, these communities formed with gaming. You have NF T's non fungible tokens, which you can actually play in the game, you can trade in the game, you can trade outside the game, you can also monetize. We see financialization within those communities, whether you want to borrow or lend. We're seeing emerging technologies around your NF T's. But at the end of the day, what crypto and Web3 is it's all about community. And again, that's where those doubts come into play because You know, as these communities form, whether it's centered upon gaming or centered upon what we call a 10k series, a series of NF T's communities are forming. And that's really the power of Web3, introducing private property into the internet forming communities, and really creating democratic governance around those communities.

Colin Hogan  10:19

So with all these applications, you've just kind of outlined and all these new communities forming, I mean, what do you see for the next like six to 12 months in terms of like, what's the marketplace for this technology going to look like?

Chris Perkins  10:32

Yeah. So right now, I think we're on the verge of a massive tidal wave of adoption. So when I was at Citi, back in 2017, there was this first like, real bull market in crypto and my phone would ring off the hook. And it would be trader saying, get me into this market, Chris, figure it out? And I'd say, are you speaking for yourself or for your institution that say, I'm speaking for myself, my institution would never touch this garbage. That's markedly changed. By the time I left Citi, I was able to after you know, working very hard navigating our reputational risk committee, I was able to get bitcoin and Aetherium futures approved. But right now, what we're seeing is that the institutions are absolutely lining up trying to get into the space. Why? Because look at Bitcoin as an example, it's the best performing asset class and eight of the last 10 years, folks will hide behind regulation and say, well, there's regulatory uncertainty, Bitcoin, the regulation is very clear. It's a commodity, right, we've got futures on it. So we understand the regulatory backdrop. So really, what it comes down to is operations, and they need to really figure out how to deal with a 24/7 marketplace. And so, right now, the institutions are all trying to come into the space, because, frankly, what's the reputational risk of not being in this space, if it's the best performing asset class, you know, the regulation, and it really just comes down to your ops. So we're seeing that come in. That's super exciting, because every institution that I know, even the most conservative folks out there are trying to enter this space. So you're gonna see institutional adoption, really increase in the next 12 months that said, it's happening at a tweeted out this today, it's happening at a slower pace, because what's happening is, they're forming these working groups, with the ops lady, the compliance person, the trading team, whatever the investment side, and they're like, Wow, we have a lot of work to do. And then they go down the rabbit hole, they're like, Oh, my God, look at this technology, I need to be part of it. And then they leave. And so they have to reconstitute the working group. And so we're seeing an institutional adoption happening, it's just slower than they would have liked to have it happen. So that's one thing. We're also seeing, regulatory de risking, I would say. Now, one of the challenges to broad institutional adoption is really around the regulation. And I could talk for hours about this on how the Howey Test applies versus commodities, treatment, etc. At the end of the day, I'm super encouraged by what we're seeing within policymaking space, particularly within Congress right now, Congress doesn't I don't know if you guys agree with me, but they don't tend to agree on too much.

Sean McMahon  13:05

But what are you talking about? It's a well oiled machine up there on Capitol Hill.

Chris Perkins  13:10

But you know, I mean, seriously, it's, it's very rare that they agree on anything, but we're seeing right now, broad agreement, frankly, between Republicans and Democrats, you know, right wing Republicans and super progressive Democrats on embracing the technology, because frankly, it represents American values. I talked about introducing private property into the internet, I talked about democracy. If you look on the right, they're saying, Look, this is you know, this, this makes a ton of sense, personal freedoms and liberties. And I'm not saying that the left doesn't think that but but it was a, I think most people think it's a it's a right, you know, type of concept. But we're seeing on the left now, folks are saying, well, wait a second, why is it that I was looking at some stats recently 23%, you know, that they're seeing much broader adoption within black and Latino communities than within white communities. And so there's a reason for that. I think there's there's, there's, there's belief that well, wait a second, if I take out these intermediaries, we can, we can perhaps come out on the other side with a more equitable economy. And so you're seeing this really fascinating alignment between the left and the right. And we're seeing numerous candidates right now running for Congress on a pro crypto platform. For those reasons on both sides. I've spoken to both. And so what we're seeing is perhaps a bit of a generational divide, rather than a bipartisan divide. And that's very favorable for the long term. So our thesis is, is that as as you know, midterms come together, you're going to see broad policy adoption. Frankly, we need to go on the offense, not on the defense, you know, other countries have embraced the technology, we really should too, in accordance with our values. So that's another really exciting trend that we're seeing. Finally, we're seeing, like very, very broad user adoption and I think NF T's non fungible tokens are really driving this If you look at some of the stats on platforms such as open sea, you're relatable. January was was I think the largest month of user adoption. I haven't seen the February stats yet. But $5 billion, I think in transactional volume on open sea it was it was record breaking. And why because non fungible tokens are, you know, one of the cornerstones of Web3, they're very easily accessible to, to normies to ordinary people, because, you know, you get it, you buy a piece of art, a PFP. And what it is, it's a gateway into this land of crypto and so massive retail user adoption for something that's very accessible, is coming in it. But but when you step back, we're still really early, I think less than a million people have, have NF T's have purchased NF T's to date. I think the use case is astronomical, well beyond profile pictures, you can tokenize anything in a non fungible manner. So long answer to your question, you know, what are we going to see over the next 10 to 12 months increased innovation, I mean, everyday things are being invented. I just got back from eath Denver, which is one of the major development conferences. I mean, the excitement, that we're seeing new capabilities, new ideas being unlocked, is just through the roof. That coupled with user adoption, coupled with policy, stabilization, regulatory predictability, all coming together is going to be great. And then finally, like I said earlier, that institutional adoption together I believe, is going to drive just a tidal wave of adoption.

Sean McMahon  16:31

And just real quick, circling back to the the regulatory kind of the congressional divide, you said, that might be more generational than political. Is there any chance that that's because there's just too many options out there? You know, specifically to cryptocurrencies. Right. Everyone knows Bitcoin. But there's a zillion different coins out there. Right? And is it just so many coins that some people have a tough time just wrapping their mind around how you would drop regulations for all these different currencies? Would it be better if everyone kind of coalesce behind, you know, half a dozen coins? Or is it better to have the more the merrier?

Chris Perkins  17:04

So, you know, I believe in innovation, I believe in free markets. And if a company or a protocol can come up with an innovative token, I don't think that should ever be suppressed. What I do believe in is principle space regulation. And, frankly, that regulation exists today. Right? So if you look at US law, any token can be one of two things. It can be a security, or it can be a commodity. Everything in the world is a commodity, except for onions, movie receipts and securities. Right? So it goes into one of those two buckets. But rather than, you know, focus on the existing statute, which I think needs to be rethought in the context of this technology. Today, you know, fraud, manipulation and abuse is not tolerated, you know, the extent something's not deemed a security, the CFTC has full authorization to enforce any case of fraud, manipulation or abuse. And so do I think there should be a proliferation of tokens? Absolutely. Do I think fraud or manipulation or view should be tolerated in any context? Absolutely not. investor protections are very important. Anti money laundering, KYC. OFAC enforcement incredibly important. And so what I would love to see is I would love to see and look at the regulator's their public servants, they do a heck of a job. And we differentiate in our country based on the transparency and predictability of regulation that attracts users. Right now, because we have this this policy gap where the technology doesn't I personally believe doesn't fit perfectly neatly into existing regulation. In certain cases, we've seen regulators go and ask Congress for additional additional support and guidance and policy. I think once we know that it'll be a huge differentiator for our country. And and it'll it'll, it'll lead to additional adoption. So like, again, we need to continue to stay focused on principles, rather than, you know, Legacy frameworks, you know, that were defined because we lacked technology in the first place.

Sean McMahon  18:54

All right, now circling back to the doubt, you know, the decentralized autonomous organizations, you wrote a paper last fall, kind of about how that plays into ESG. Investing principles. Yeah. And color. And I've done a handful of episodes kind of focused on ESG. So can you just kind of real quickly walk us through that? How that's kind of a use case for these DAOns and how it might help, you know, their corporate boards or things like that manage their ESG? Yeah,

Chris Perkins  19:17

sure. So, you know, I think we should talk about sng. Because I think it's applicable across Web3. And I think the Web3 brand is is Web3 hasn't done a good job of branding itself is actually environmentally friendly. And I do think we have answers for that, which I'll talk about. But let's start with the GE, which which I wrote about. Governance is something that is constant. It's largely ignored, frankly, in the ESG landscape. It's overlooked, and they're like, Yeah, you need to have a diverse board. And yeah, that's about it. When you step back with what DAOs allow you to do, and I think ConstitutionDAO though it failed in its mission is a good case study in the power of a DAO if you recall, there was a group of people that formed over about five days, about 17,500 wallets, they raised about $50 million for one purpose, and that was to buy the US Constitution. Right? They failed because Ken Griffin showed up and he had $52 million, I think it was, and that was that maybe not a good use case. But think about the power of that what that unlocks, right? What Tao is allow you to do is it allows you to have, you know, true democratic governance where a community is formed. And by the way, the thing that one thing about crypto that people don't really realize at first is that everything that we do is instantaneously global, right? It's not like a business that you set up in your hometown, and you do a great job. And then you open another one. And over the years, you know, you proliferate like McDonald's or Starbucks No, instantaneously global, right? So what DAOs allow you to do is to form a community issue governance tokens, and then that those community holders can vote on various directions of travel. It also feeds into this very innate human instinct to form groups and communities of like minded individuals. And so the point of the paper was, we do have a way, then we have efficient technology now that allows us to extend the governance framework around any protocol or company. It's not perfect. I think there are a number of different functionalities that are now being introduced things such as rage quit, where you don't agree, so you can take your part of the Treasury and leave. I think there's new technologies coming out that will allow folks to form committee structures. But the point is, is that the technology allows for more efficient democratic governance, which I think is really important answer on the ESG side, you know, and even see this debate happening across Web3. Centralization versus decentralization. There are benefits and drawbacks to both. I think this technology, the Web3 blockchain technology unlocks a potential for more decentralization, which in many cases, is much more democratic than that singular, central control. But I think it's important also talking about the right Bitcoin was under a lot of stress. Because, oh, its environment environmentally unsound because of proof of work? Well, I spoke to a miner yesterday, really fascinating. As we've seen mining, migrate from China into the US in a proactive use of renewables. That that's a really good story. And then you say, Okay, wait a second, what's the market cap of Bitcoin? And is it in the trillions of dollars? Okay, what's the value that we're receiving for Bitcoin? What's the environmental footprint associated with that doesn't make sense. But we're seeing innovation every single day around the use of renewables, you know, we're also very active in in the carbon offset markets amongst many of our peers. So I do think that there's, I think that there is an answer on the E. And then finally, I talked a little bit about the G, I'm sorry about the about the s, we're seeing, you know, many, many use cases where the elimination of intermediaries, particularly among communities of color, is something that would potentially address some of the income inequality issues that we're seeing in the United States and around the globe. And so I think it's super exciting, the innovations that we're seeing across e s, mg.

Sean McMahon  23:18

Alright, just a quick note for our listeners, you referenced the the bidding war for the Constitution between DAOConstitution and Ken Griffin from Citadel. And we'll be sure to put a link to that story in the show notes, because I'm not sure everyone's up on that. It was kind of fun headlines there for a while, but

Colin Hogan  23:32

definitely a good one for them to read.

Chris Perkins  23:34

Yeah, it was super exciting. You know, I really think it it'll be definitive across history, people will look back at ConstitutionDAO as as a real coming out moment for DAOs, despite its failure, and like, look, I work in the venture space. You know, we expect entrepreneurs and founders to fail all the time. It's what do you do with it? What do you learn from it? And, and I think the community learned a lot from ConstitutionDAO.

Sean McMahon  23:59

Yeah, it was definitely fascinating. So real quick, I want to kind of shift gears right now and let our listeners learn more about you. You know, like I mentioned before you and I met years ago, and we talked about your career background, and first of all, the Naval Academy, and then the Marine Corps, and then at Citi. So what I think is interesting is you mentioned before how at some of those conferences five years ago, or so, you know, people were kind of rolling their eyes a little bit at the whole crypto space and kind of what it could offer. And like I mentioned, it was kind of side panel stuff before became main panel stuff. But now I would say that you are part of this wave of executives, who've made the transition from traditional finance over to firms like CoinFund. And you even talked about others working groups that were kind of built within firms, and they'd get so into it. And so, you know, inspired by it, or I guess, are motivated by that they'd leave. Right. So walk me through that transition for you.

Chris Perkins  24:48

Yeah, sure. I started looking at the space around 2016. I read a book and I was like, wow, this is gonna be big. I went to the folks that ran the firm and I said, Hey, we should really To do something around this, and their answer was, well, this distributed ledger technology, you know, it's more of an ecosystem, send it off to the major utilities, let them figure it out. I kind of like, didn't love that response, I actually went away, I drafted a business plan to to become a founder. And in the end, I was working with a partner didn't work out. And, you know, by the way, my businesses that I was growing, were moving very, it was an incredibly exciting time as I was building, you know, various businesses at the company. So decided not to do it, but I watched. And then, you know, time went by, and I saw the market continued to evolve. And then at one point, I realized that I was actually allowed to trade it, I didn't think I was allowed to. And you know, because there's very strict rules around trading. And then I found out like, wait a second, they're not securities, you can do whatever you want. We don't have rules around what you can do. So go crazy, and I did. One, you start touching, feeling tasting the technology, and realizing that the technology that I was dealing with, at the bank, you know, is based in 1990s batch processes, and seeing what I was able to do across Defy. And beyond this, this lightbulb went on, and I'm like, wow. And then, you know, I really developed my own personal thesis around the technology. And if you spare me a minute, I'll tell you what it is. The Ledger was started 7000 years ago in Mesopotamia. And what happened, it became that that part of the world became the center of art, technology, science, mathematics, it led the world for centuries, there was a second innovation around the ledger in the Renaissance with double entry bookkeeping, and we saw the same thing happening. And so my grand thesis was that, wow, the ledger is the epicenter, maybe not only of the economy, but civilization. And in 2008, we innovated there was an innovation around the ledger, once again, where we understood we came up with new technology that allowed for trustless exchange of titrate, transfer of title and exchange of value. And when you couple that with the internet, I was like, my god, this is gonna be big, and we're already starting to see it, you know, with with an impacting art, I can talk about some of the things we're seeing in science and technology and finance. So this light bulb went on like, wow, this is going to be bigger than anything that I've ever seen. And, you know, I'm the type of guy who likes to be at the forefront on the tip of the spear. That's, that's one of the reasons why I volunteered to go into Ramadi, and I wanted to be a part of it. And and so you know, after that did a massive amount of due diligence. And, you know, I spoke to a number different funds, central counterparties exchanges and crypto utilities. And I found the best team in the world in CoinFund, I found investors that had been around since you know, early, early days of Aetherium, folks that knew how to how to navigate the crypto ecosystems and the communities better than anyone, folks with really, really great reputations. And reputations are really important in this space. For us, it's about community. And I was just very much aligned with their values as being truly founders first, really investing in the technology trying to change the world, I brought a unique background and skill set to the company. And, you know, anytime you search for a job, it's not really a job that you search for the people that you search for. And I was just so happy that I found the team at CoinFund, and I've been incredibly happy ever since.

Colin Hogan  28:22

So what have you found to be the you know, the biggest difference between working at CoinFund and working in this space, then, in traditional finance, at Citi, where you came from?

Chris Perkins  28:32

Well, that's a that's a really interesting question. You know, the banks, you know, that they're very good at what they what they do. It's, it's a very regimented. You know, if you think about it, like everything that we do in the banks, even with my technologies as running our futures business, it's all very batch batch oriented, much more structured, you know, much more regulated. And, in a way, linear, right? You can innovate within certain bounds. But But there's certain things you just can't, you just can't go beyond at the fund. I mean, the amount of innovation that that I'm seeing is like nothing I could have ever imagined. It's incredibly dynamic. It's 24/7. It's very intense. And so it's just a much, much different culture where, like I said earlier, I've had to unlearn a lot. So that I can go back and re engage and really start, you know, thinking that the creativity, and the amount of thought that goes into what we do every day is just through the roof. And so it's a much more dynamic, innovative culture. Of course, you know, I wasn't in the venture space back in the bank, I was running a global business. So it's, you know, it's hard to compare, but hopefully that gives you a sense.

Colin Hogan  29:44

Yeah, definitely. I mean, do you have any advice for others who are looking to make that kind of switch in their career?

Chris Perkins  29:50

So I get a number of calls almost every day, people asking me the same question. My advice is, go for it. If it's something that you're truly passionate About You have to be passionate about it. Because if you're not blockchain obsessed, you might not last that long because it's intense. And I tell you, like some of the research analyst I work with, you know, they love it so much, because it's their job. It's also their hobby. And I'm like, hey, you know, you really should take a day off, you know, you haven't taken down forever. They're like, what else am I gonna do? This is what I love, right? So if you go down that rabbit hole, you have to go down the rabbit hole, you have to touch and feel and taste to technology. If that light bulb goes on, there's no stopping you, right. And then it's just like any other job, you know, find the right people, like, have a conversation with yourself about where your skill set fits in. By the way, you don't have to be a computer scientist to thrive in this space. You know, we're looking for diverse talent, not only in my company, which we continue to build, but across our portfolio companies, right? We need marketers, we need salespeople, we need computer scientists, of course, technical people, non technical people, all shapes and sizes, because like I said earlier, this is going to be bigger than the internet. And there's room for a ton of smart people. I will tell you the other thing that I've noticed in this space, the number of intelligent people that continue to pour into this industry is through the roof. I am blown away by just the talent that I see in this space. And I think there's probably a reason for that.

Sean McMahon  31:17

Yeah, I mean, that's kind what I was getting at in terms of I noticed you being part of this trend. These aren't low level folks who've been in traditional finance making the switch, like these are executives who've, you know, run massive businesses like you and I kind of see who keeps kind of shifting over to this Web3 and kind of new space. And it definitely feels like I said before the the people rolling their eyes are kind of who were very skeptical and dipping their toe in the water maybe five years ago, or are making massive career pivots right now to go for it. So it's exciting. Coin Fun, I noticed that your portfolio is multi strategy, lots of different things. So what are some things you look for, or advice you give either portfolio companies or prospective portfolio companies?

Chris Perkins  31:53

Yeah, I can't give investment advice. But I can tell you a little bit about our company, we have venture strategies, which include seed strategies, we have a liquid strategy, as well. And so we look across the spectrum from companies and protocols in their earliest days to ones that are more mature, even all the way up on the liquid strategy side of things. What do we do, as we look at, at some of our investments clearly starts with founders. Dynamic founders make a huge difference, particularly in the seed and precede stage. We look at things such as Tam, you know, what I come in? My perspective is, you know, how can I help them? We're absolutely founders first. So you know, how's your technology, we'll look at it at the code level, we have that type of expertise, that we want to make sure that, you know, we can help them and assist them in the development of their code. from a regulatory perspective, what is the regulatory impact of what they're trying to design? And, you know, frankly, we bring a lot of resources to the table and experience where we'll say, Okay, think of Have you thought about this? Have you thought about this? Here are the licenses that are required to operate? How can we fit your technology into those licenses as an as an example, we go through a very, very robust fundamental analysis of any type of investment that we would ever want to make. Sometimes we look at technicals as well, depending on where we are in our strategy. But yeah, it's a very robust, comprehensive process. But it's all predicated on founders first, we really want to find founders that we can, that we can work with closely and help them on their way. That sounds great.

Sean McMahon  33:20

All right. So now, one of the ways we met earlier, like I mentioned is, you know, after you came out of the Naval Academy and served in the Marines, and went on to Citi, you were one of the cofounders of Veterans on Wall Street - VOWS. So what some of the latest work you've been doing with that organization?

Chris Perkins  33:34

Yeah, VOWS is a something that we're very, very proud of. I think we, over the years, I think we're able to raise around $15 million, we touched 1000s of veterans and spouses as we train them and brought them into finance. VOWS is in great hands. You know, there is a cadre of folks that continue to try to bring veterans into finance, we've got a great partnership with the Bob Woodruff Foundation. But what we're trying to do now what I've personally tried to do is I've turned that over, and we've launched a new initiative. It's called VIDA - Veterans in Digital Assets. So we took the best practices from vows. And it's super, super exciting, because as I mentioned, there's such a proliferation of jobs and careers that are forming. We formed a community. And you know, we may even launch a doubt at some point. But what we've done is we're trying to take veterans and their spouses and help them find opportunities in web3. We have a series of podcasts, which we just launched featuring a number of really interesting CEOs and other prominent industry figures. People like Rob matar, Ozzie, who's the CEO of Lucca, a new unicorn if you haven't heard of it, he's a Marine. Leah Wald CEO Valkyrie. I don't know if you remember, but they got their ETF approved. She's a spouse, right? There are veterans throughout this industry and we've all come together to really help veterans on their way. We have a discord and it's funny like in Web3, there are different platforms that you use to get your information, Twitter and discord so we have a thriving discord community. It's open and welcome for anyone who wants to either if you're a veteran, come on, on, come on and be part of the community. If you're not, you're welcome just as much. So we'd love to link that in the show notes. But uh, yeah, we formed, this community is thriving, the podcasts are being released, you know, we're starting with community formation and education. And who knows, maybe we'll launch a DAO and have the Treasury at some point where we can actually fund a lot of programming. Super exciting stuff.

Sean McMahon  35:25

Yeah, that's awesome. And we'll definitely link to Vita in the show notes. And, and that's perfect, cuz I was gonna say it felt like the, the Wall Street part of vows might be a little outdated for some of these companies, you know, kind of being everywhere else. But in New York,

Chris Perkins  35:37

it's the same thesis, right? I think veterans will be great for Web3, and Web3 will be great for veterans, I think it's a win win for everyone.

Sean McMahon  35:45

Are you noticing younger veterans maybe been able to kind of, you know, transition more quickly to the digital asset space? I mean, cuz in my head, you know, I feel like there's a stereotype about Wall Street, right. And I know, you came out of the academy and the core, but like, there's a lot of okay, Ivy League into your analyst role. And then that's kind of the trajectory, right. And I feel like, the space you're in now, a younger veteran could come right out just because they're more familiar with it, or they're that part of that younger generation that is already up to speed on what the capabilities, some of the technologies are, because they use them, they can come right out at a younger age, say, you know, 2526, and shift right into a company like CoinFund, or one of the companies you guys are looking to invest in, is that something you're noticing, like, younger?

Chris Perkins  36:25

That's absolutely, the thing about Web3, and crypto is that it really levels the playing field, you know, the whole, the entirety of the technologies is largely less than five years old. Right. So if you are hungry, you're passionate, and you're smart. And in you do your own research, and you study and in which is, by the way, 100% within one's control, you know, you can get into the space very, very seamlessly. You know, it also operates 24/7, you can also enter the internet anywhere in the world if you're deployed and you have a little bit of time down. So the playing field is absolutely leveled. You don't necessarily have to go through those various institutions to be offered, like, you know, one in 10,000 shot of getting into an analyst class, it really comes down to how good you are. And again, it's largely within your own control and how hard you study you know, jump into the discord, jump into Twitter, crypto, Twitter, learn network build, you know, learn solidity, which is the programming language for Aetherium, that there aren't too many courses out there that, you know, you have to go through some specialized course to learn solidity. It's largely self taught or rust. So, yeah, I'm seeing it. I think there's massive, massive opportunity for service men and women, I think they should start as early as possible in that transition. And the community is is incredible the amount of knowledge that I already seen this discord helping people out is this fantastic. So we're excited to keep that up.

Sean McMahon  37:48

All right. Well, that's an exciting note and a very upbeat note about the future of this industry. So I think we'll leave it at that. Chris, thank you very much for joining us. It's been a pleasure talking to you. 

Colin Hogan 35:54

Thank you, Chris.

Chris Perkins  37:56

Thank you so much, gentlemen. Have a wonderful day, and I really appreciate it.

Sean McMahon  38:03

If you like this podcast, please share it with your friends and colleagues. And be sure to follow us on Apple, Google, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also follow us on Twitter, where our handle is @ModernMoneyPod. And if you'd like a daily dose of Modern Money news delivered to your inbox, head on over to and sign up for the Modern Money SmartBrief. The Modern Money SmartPod is a production of SmartBrief, a Future company

The transition to CoinFund
The evolution of digital assets
Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)
Growth of Web3
Bipartisan support for digital assets
Are there too many digital assets?
The role of DAOs in ESG
Wave of legacy finance execs moving to Web3
The difference between working in legacy finance and Web3
Advice for other pondering pivot to Web3
Veterans in Digital Assets