Critical Infrastructure to Continue Unlocking Blockchain Use Case: Why I Joined CoinFund
by Isaiah Washington
I am very excited to announce that I have joined the investment team at CoinFund to help the firm research, invest in, and support the foundations of the future internet. After spending a year and a half investing in growth-stage enterprise SaaS at Insight Partners and supporting their internal crypto strategy, I am now honored to join a team that is pushing the boundaries of how humans can, should, and will interact with technology. I strive to support the creation of a future internet that is more transparent, more equitable, and more interactive, and I am grateful to be able to collaborate with the team of like-minded individuals at CoinFund to do just that. But how did I get here?
For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with the future. Technology has long been my “looking glass” into the future and I’ve come to see venture investing as a way to help shape it. It was this mindset that brought me to two summers of college internships at Meta, then known as Facebook, where I worked with product developers to create processes to most efficiently build and deploy products that were seen as most ideal in the eyes of the customer. My work with infrastructure teams at Meta exposed me to the importance of foundational data structures that enable swift and easy application experiences. My eye towards efficient infrastructure and my focus on commercialization strategy was ingrained in me during my experience in Wharton’s undergraduate program at the University of Pennsylvania. At Insight Partners, my focus was on researching, performing due diligence, and investing in cloud and network infrastructure, developer tooling, and cybersecurity in Web 2.0.
At Meta, I had my first exposure to blockchain technology and decentralized compute networks. After taking multiple classes to understand the bones of decentralized systems, consensus mechanisms, token-based mechanisms, and the potential applications of these systems, I was convinced that blockchain-based software was a promising approach that could create an open internet. That new internet could eventually address one of capitalism’s most pressing issues that I’d identified while in school: the misaligned incentives between stakeholders and shareholders that exists in most large organizations today. In short, most owners tend to want short-term profitability and other stakeholders tend to want long-term sustainability. Often, methods to achieve both are at odds with each other. By distributing ownership among the stakeholders of a network (i.e. by making users owners and owners users) we can work to eliminate this gap. Wow, blockchain might be onto something!
This is the future I hope to see. I believe blockchain-based networks, software and organizations (DAOs) have the power to bring this future to the doorsteps of billions. However, distributed ledgers and decentralized storage systems are not quite enough for this future to come to fruition. This brings me to where I hope to plug in at CoinFund. Critical open-source developer infrastructure is necessary for us to extract the benefits that we envision from decentralized networks in the same way that critical proprietary infrastructure was used to abstract away the complexities of Web 2.0 and give us experiences like Snapchat, Amazon, and Instagram.
This has started to happen. It was critical infrastructure laid in the early days of Ethereum that enabled the massive blockchain adoption sagas of DeFi summer and the recent NFT craze. According to Nansen, the total value locked (TVL) in DeFi grew 1,120% from 2020 to 2021, with 70% of that dominance attributable to Ethereum. Meanwhile, the NFT market grew from under $100M to over $40B in a year’s time. The overall blockchain wallet address count climbed from 40M in February 2020 to over 85M today. Much of this was a result of the space’s earliest and most influential infrastructure innovations such as Chainlink, providing a path for off-chain pricing data to inform on-chain applications, The Graph providing an on-chain data querying mechanism, and RPC-endpoint providers and developer tooling platforms such as Infura, Blockdaemon and Alchemy making it easier to develop software on blockchain networks. Without these infrastructural innovations, blockchain usage and adoption in the financial and NFT contexts would not exist.
What blockchain technology has started to do to the financial industry eventually will make its way to many industries that are currently operated under the constraints of centralization. We’ve seen glimmers of this greatness as NFTs begin to expand beyond their cultural significance and into realms such as gaming, as exhibited by 2021’s surge in play-to-earn-gaming, and other entertainment contexts such as the music and sports entertainment industries. As more use cases continue to illuminate themselves, what is constant is the need for critical infrastructure that abstracts away the complexities of direct blockchain development to be built to make them a reality for the mass market.
As I dive into my work at CoinFund, I am excited to research and invest in what is needed in order to make my vision of the future a reality. It is at the intersection of my obsession with the future and my goal to influence equity where my interest in blockchain emerged and where my passion for blockchain and decentralized systems resides. I am thankful to have found the CoinFund team that is, for all of their own reasons, just as passionate about this space as I am and willing to do all it takes to support the innovators within it.
If you are building or know someone building a protocol or application that deals with infrastructure, developer tooling, cybersecurity or applying blockchain technology to existing web 2.0 based industries (especially cultural industries), please reach out to me!