TaaS (Token-as-a-Service)is a new crypto-asset (crypto-token on Ethereum), which is a closed-end fund for the cryptocurrency industry broadly. This means there is a fund management team that invests in promising new crypto-assets, crypto-tokens, meta-tokens, app-coins, or protocol tokens (whatever you want to call them), and shares the profits with its token-holders. TaaS will invest in existing crypto-assets and also in new ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings). In fact, TaaS itself is currently undergoing its ICO to fund the initial capital.
TaaS of course is not the first project looking to invest into the emerging market of ICOs and crypto-assets. Many different projects are trying to do the same, from ICONOMI (which was an ICO like TaaS and raised over $10 million) to Blockchain Capital.
However, they all differ in their approach – either the fund structure, or the types of investments. For instance, ICONOMI does a buy-back to return money to shareholders and there is no fee structure disclosed, which means investors don’t know how much they’ll lose out on operating expenses of the fund. Blockchain Capital is a tradeable and investable token, but its investments are more venture capital based rather than crypto-asset based.
With these in mind, let’s look at where TaaS fits into the picture.
Existing Financial Industry Structure
If you look at the largest investment banks in the world today, like say Goldman Sachs, you’ll see they have a very active research division. If you look at the largest hedge-funds today, they have their internal research division that forms buy-side research at these firms. These sell-side and buy-side research is an integral and important part of the financial industry.
The ICO and crypto-asset industry is very nascent indeed. Bitcoin, the grandfather of all cryptos, isn’t even a decade old. However, the market is adding billions of dollars worth of capitalization in months. Today, the market stands at around $25 billion, with the dominance of Bitcoin on the wane (relative to the total market size). Research in this area is just getting started.
The problem with many of the funds in the industry is that they are flying blind. They do not have a solid analytical and data foundation on which to build the investment thesis. Without this foundation, unfortunately, investments look like speculation. Instead of targeted investing, funds are involved in spray-and-pray strategies that doesn’t help the ecosystem grow.
The Investment Decision Making Process
It goes without saying that crypto is a fairly recent and unique asset class, which means the strategies that work for equity investors will not work carbon-copy with crypto-assets. However, we can take lessons from the existing financial industry.
The minimum level of due-diligence that any fund manager in the crypto space needs to take is to read the whitepaper, understand the product, understand the team behind the project, and look at the token structure, i.e. what is the use of this token. This first step itself is a big deal of research for most investors.
However, one cannot stop there. There are many other research questions to answer. What’s the potential market size? What are the valuation assumptions? What are some past deals with similar ideas? What kinds of ratios are existing tokens in this industry selling for? What’s the crypto-market capitalization for this and related ideas? What are the risks being faced by the industry?
To answer the above questions, one needs data and human judgement. However, getting the data is the first step. Today, there are very few avenues for investors to get this data about the market they are investing in.
How TaaS is Different
Enter TaaS. Instead of being just another fund management platform, TaaS is building the ecosystem from ground up. Instead of first doing the picking of ICOs/crypto-assets, TaaS is asking the meta question – what kinds of questions do I need to answer to make a good investment decision? To this end, TaaS is building a crypto data and research platform, aka the Bloomberg of crypto, in the form of Kepler. I predict this will usher in an era of new products in the crypto-research space, which is at a cross-roads now and very much needs these products.
Kepler can be subscribed to by outside fund managers as well. In the absence of such a product in the marketplace, the TaaS team is building one for the industry – an ambitious step but a step in the right direction nonetheless. After all, investments and research should always go hand in hand.
The TaaS ICO is ongoing now. Check out the site and other details at http://taas.fund/
Photo Credit: Leo Hidalgo