ConsenSys’ Kavita Gupta: Crypto Promise Still Alive as Ever
“The promise of an open financial system, cross-border transactions for all, that was sparked by Bitcoin, is still as alive as ever,” Kavita Gupta, who runs a USD 50 million investment fund as Founding Managing Partner at ConsenSys Ventures, told Cryptonews.com.
The company is an external investment arm of ConsenSys, a major blockchain software technology firm. It invests in pre-seed and seed stage Ethereum projects across the Web 3.0 stack.
Over the years, Gupta has held several senior investment roles and in this exclusive interview she shares her thoughts on the evolution of cryptocurrencies, how the funding landscape is changing — and the importance of creating a healthy environment for women to flourish in the tech sector.
Cryptonews.com: As the crypto landscape evolves what is your view on digital currencies?
Kavita Gupta: I think that the promise of an open financial system, cross-border transactions for all, that was sparked by Bitcoin, is still as alive as ever. Digital currencies and the promise of anyone being able to access their assets from anywhere in the world are as tantalizing today as it was in 2008, perhaps even more so. You can point to crises in Venezuela, Cuba, the friction of cross-border remittance or constant hacks (such as the one experienced by Equifax) as a proof of this. Now, do I think that tokenizing fiat in the way Circle, Coinbase, and Gemini have done recently is super revolutionary? (Here, Kavita Gupta is referencing to the stablecoins launched by the mentioned companies - Cryptonews.com) Not really. Although, I do think these will serve as a massive user experience upgrade to the decentralized web and these fiat backed tokens is definitely innovative for institutions.
How is the venture capital (VC), funding landscape changing?
I think VC investors are getting comfortable with this new paradigm of investing. Crypto investing looks a lot different: liquidity, duration, risk profile, volatility etc. are very different than the long-term traditional investment fund. The landscape is also changing for blockchain investors and the profile of entrepreneurs is changing. We see a shift from majority of young technologists serving as CEOs to a lot of seasoned engineers and serial entrepreneurs entering the space. Product's vision, roadmap and especially the thought of adoption and user friendly interface have become a big part of the conversation. Some of the big VC's are setting up crypto dedicated funds bringing Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 worlds closer and validating lots of early tech in the space, which just a year ago would have looked fake.
What type of projects have you recently invested in?
Our two newest publicly announced investments are both incredibly exciting. The first, Unlock, is a protocol that allows content publishers to set up paywalls for their content without a middleman. It will eventually lead to people being able to micro-monetize their content, charge a few cents for an article or even a fraction of that for a tweet, etc. With only a few lines of code, anyone on the web can integrate Unlock's paywall-as-a-service, and they'll pivot into other areas of digital monetization, too.
Another in Starkware, an innovative cryptography project out of Israel that's making major waves in the crypto industry. Without getting too technical, Starkware's Zero-Knowledge Proofs have drastically improved on the Snark technology (used by Zcash and others), allowing for private and highly scalable transactions. Once they reach full industrial grade, Starks will be a part of every blockchain, and can eventually even serve as the base layer for a new protocol.
We started with the investment thesis of investing across the whole Ethereum stack, but the space is becoming very exciting for infrastructure, scalability and security products right now.
What advice can you share with aspiring women in tech? What challenges have you faced as a female in tech?
Tech is like any other field in this world. It may look male dominated right now but doesn't mean we can't change it. As individuals, our first responsibility is to pursue what you really love and excel in it.
Be strong and speak up if someone or something is making you uncomfortable. Have a non defensive and honest conversation with your colleagues or seniors over coffee the first time you notice a pattern which makes you uncomfortable. If that doesn't solve the problem then speak up in [public] if the pattern continues. Find other women in the space and create a safe environment to have a support system and open conversation. The more you support each other and stand up - the more you would contribute in creating a healthy space for more women to follow.
I have been blessed with some of the most supporting mentors and bosses in my life, but irrespective, I have never stayed quiet if I saw a pattern of rejection based on sex or color. I did question myself on my abilities at first, but having a confidence in my work and support system at work has always helped me to see through situations and gave me confidence to stand up as needed.