The Wall Street Moment

Over the last two years, the big investor in cryptocurrency was “Silicon Valley.” The high profile investors were mostly tech entrepreneurs and their family offices and venture capital firms.

I just finished a NYC roadshow with mostly that same type of investor (despite being on the opposite coast), but also had some surprising meetings with “Wall Street.” Today I spent an hour at a bulge bracket Wall Street bank and met with their prime brokerage and capital introduction divisions. They’re interested. They get that this is going to be big. Each of the half dozen senior bankers around the table kept saying, “I need to learn more.” Their research divisions are starting to publish detailed sell-side research on cryptocurrency and blockchain tech (including a very impressive 80 page report on blockchain disruption.) They’re holding internal informational seminars for their partners. They’re starting to think about offering prime brokerage, custodial services, capital introduction…the laundry list of services that Wall Street provides for every major asset class. They have a long road to building those platforms, but I suspect that within 9 months, they’ll start providing some of the services necessary to make institutional investors comfortable with cryptocurrency.

I also met with a couple reporters at two leading financial publications on background – and they’re in a similar place. They’ve been reporting on cryptocurrency, but usually as a one-off story. They report on sharp rallies and collapses in the price of bitcoin or ether and occasionally mention the small fund managers in the space, but usually it was presented as a quirky observation of something crazy happening. The reporters have a growing appreciation that this is here to stay but aren’t sure how to approach covering cryptocurrency. Do they treat a crypto fund manager like any other hedge fund manager? Do they report on individual cryptocurrencies like equities or commodities or as new technologies? They know they need to learn more.

Six months ago, I realized we were about to have “the wall street moment.” The pattern of adoption of cryptocurrency has (and I think will be) something like this:

Cypherpunks -> Engineers -> Silicon Valley -> Wall Street -> Institutional Investors -> Main Street