Q&A with Amentum: A Crypto Fund with a Mission
Supporting TokenData since before it was even called TokenData, Steven McKie (the guy behind BlockChannel) recently announced the launch of a new investment fund called Amentum. When we looked at Amentum’s twitter feed, all we saw was the fund’s mission statement — “A crypto fund focused on diversity, security, interoperability, and sustainability for blockchain-based protocols and applications.” What follows below is our discussion with the Amentum team about how they are aiming to create not only a fund, but also an ecosystem and tools that will benefit other crypto investors.
Q: Can you give us a quick overview of Amentum as a fund and your team.
A: We are a cryptocurrency investment fund that will focus both on cryptocurrency protocol investing as well as ICO. We expect to close our fundraising by Q1 2018 and around 70% of our fund will be deployed into publicly traded cryptocurrencies and about 30% into ICOs whose teams we will help and work with as advocate investors for the protocols and crypto-related projects we invest in. The fund will assume passive long positions, and adjust our holdings based on prevailing market sentiment and psychology.
Our team consists of the following people:
Steven McKie is a crypto veteran of 5 years. Previously Head of Growth and Product Content at Purse, he expanded Purse’s operations with value-added partnerships in multiple regions and assisted in building out the bcoin brand, site, and team. McKie also hosts and edits BlockChannel, a podcast and educational publication focused on Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Chris Russ is a private equity investor in the TMT, transportation/logistics and consumer industries. Prior to private equity, he spent 2 years as an investment banking analyst on Wall Street. He received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, with a minor in Computer Science, from Stanford University.
Kyle Forkey is an entrepreneur and engineer; previously a project manager for a multi-million dollar custom estate contracting company in Wellington, FL. His latest venture is a firm specializing in equity-oriented ICOs, with an interest in public/private infrastructure investing. He’s helped projects successfully raise millions of dollars for multiple projects. He received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Old Dominion University.
Q: With new cryptocurrency funds being announced every week, what differentiates Amentum?
A: We — at Amentum — are Crypto first. We’ve been active investors, engineers and consultants in the cryptocurrency sector for the 5+years. Many of the newly announced funds are run by Wall Street folks who have gotten into crypto fairly recently and are catering to the immense demand from traditional investors who have heard about the large returns in the sector. They bring new money into the system, but not necessarily the technical skills needed to evaluate blockchain protocols and or crypto-economics. We believe that our own experience and network in the crypto community will make all the difference in volatile or bearish markets and in deal-sourcing.
Q: To what extent do you work with other funds and/or seek advice from (relatively) more established crypto fund managers?
A: As cryptocurrencies emerge as a new asset class, new standards need to be established for regulation, reporting, due diligence and deal flow sourcing. That’s why it’s important for cryptocurrency funds to collaborate rather than compete and create a sustainable investing ecosystem. With this in mind, Steven McKie (Amentum) and Kevin Zhou (GP at Galois capital, former head of trading at Kraken) created something we simply call the ‘Crypto Fund Working Group’. The idea behind the working group is to set industry standards for the nascent space of cryptocurrency funds. More than 25 new cryptocurrency funds — all run by people with cryptocurrency backgrounds — are now part of this working group. Their team hopes that by being proactive with open collaboration, we can collectively enrich the industry as a whole by strengthening its network effects, and creating a more egalitarian environment ripe for innovation.
Q: One of the recurring topics we hear from new crypto funds, but also institutional investors that are wary about moving in quickly, is a lack of standardized tools and/or custodial services for cryptocurrencies. What’s your take on this?
A: Ultimately, we expect most funds to invest in a large variety of protocols and tokens, and not just the top 5 by network value — Crypto investing will become a multi asset industry and it will be important to have a securely audited, open source wallet/cold storage setup that is industry standard. Same as with the crypto fund working group, our mentality is to simply build something that we need but isn’t there yet. That’s why we’re currently working on a wallet service under the name TokenStandards in collaboration with Mason Borda of TokenSoft.io . Tokenstandards will be a secure wallet platform for multiple coins, and the security standards and workings will be audited by third parties making it useful for custodial services and private investors. Our goal is to open source these solutions and distribute them broadly throughout the crypto investing space in an effort to create a security-first mindset for the many burgeoning “crypto funds”.
Q: Amentum’s mission statement says that you’re focused on bringing diversity, security, interoperability and sustainability to the blockchain ecosystem. Would you like to explain what you hope your role will be with regards to the first pillar: Diversity
A: Our team consists of GPs from different cultural, ethnic and professional backgrounds. Ultimately, most cryptocurrency investors want this asset class to go mainstream and we believe that diversity is very important to increase positive awareness about crypto. With that in one of our GPs (Steven McKie) was on the diversity board of the Scaling bitcoin conference at Stanford with the goal to bring minorities and women into the industry and familiarize themselves with our community. From a more practical perspective: The crypto development community is truly global, and whether it’s working with, or investing in other teams, we believe that our firm’s focus on diversity can increase the likelihood of others also in the industry doing the same. Diversity of mind and of the teams we invest in will help ensure teams are flexible: with a healthy combination of perspectives that increase the likelihood of success while promoting an open ecosystem ripe with equal representation.
Q: Is there anything the crypto community and/or readers can help Amentum with?
A: We’re always looking for people and funds wanting to work with us on the Crypto Fund Working Group and/or TokenStandards. So, if those initiatives or are fund interests you; or if you’re interested in helping us fill out our round, feel free to send Steven an e-mail on McKie@amentum.org!