On the Chain Reaction podcast this week, we spoke with Kevin Rose, a serial entrepreneur whose endeavors — including the most famous Digg — have been well covered in TechCrunch for the past two decades.
Rose is a partner at venture capital firm True Ventures, but her latest project is an NFT startup called Proof Collective, which recently launched a high-profile collection of 10,000 pixelated owl NFTs. Rose and his partners took in $80 million from the main sale of the Lunar birds project, and use that money plus a much more conventional $10 million funding round led by Alexis Ohanian’s venture capital firm, Seven Seven Six, to create a “Web3 media company”.
“We’re here to build a big, massive, whole new kind of media company from the ground up,” Rose says. “We didn’t need to raise Alexis or True Ventures, but the reason we did it was so people could understand that we really wanted to build a sustainable business here.”
Now, these Moonbirds are trading at a low of around 25 ETH these days, which is around $50,000 at today’s Ethereum prices, which have notably taken a bit of a cut in recent weeks. During our conversation, we discussed a variety of topics with Rose, including the recent market downturn, which he sees as a “risk to manifest” amid a very long journey away from fiat currencies.
“If nothing fundamentally about the mechanics behind the scenes has changed, which I guess obviously isn’t the case when it comes to something like UST or Luna, but if everything else is solid in backstage technical infrastructure terms for Bitcoin or Ethereum or whatever, so I’m just in the mindset that I never really think about going back to fiat anytime soon,” Rose says.
The broader pullback in crypto markets has been accompanied by a more modest pullback in public markets over the past two weeks, but while many venture capital firms appeared to be taking a hit, the aggressive retreat of the past week has hit companies with large crypto holdings particularly hard. Rose says her company isn’t looking to be reactive in an attempt to outsmart a potential bear market.
“We’ve never sold a token, so that’s the one thing that’s great about our funds, we can look founders in the eye and say we’re not here to flip it. So regardless of whether we’re sitting on a 20x or 50x discount, or a negative 50% discount on the token price, we believe it will take you a decade to build something truly substantial in this new space… founder is the worst thing you could owe and it’s just not in our DNA.
Venture capitalists have found many new backers over the past couple of years to invest in crypto-centric funds or vehicles with crypto close to their core. While many of these LPs are likely experiencing their first major crypto downturn, Rose thinks most backers know what they are getting into to seek crypto returns.
“I think when you talk to individual LPs, they wouldn’t invest in a crypto fund if they didn’t understand the multiples they were targeting and the risks they were taking,” he says. “If you take a look at everything this company is dipping into the waters of – crypto is the riskiest bucket of them all.”
You can listen to the the whole interview with Rose above where we discuss his mixed feelings about the metaverse, challenges faced by pseudonymous founders, and web3 inclusion issues.