Episode #1: Haseeb Qureshi —Managing Partner at Dragonfly

Episode #1: Haseeb Qureshi —Managing Partner at Dragonfly

Last updated:
October 27, 2022
Total length::
40 min
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Is Bitcoin the next digital gold? Find out with Haseeb QureshiFrom professional Poker player to Software Engineer at Air B&B, today's guest in the Finoverse bet against the house and won. He is now a Managing Partner at Dragonfly Capital and someone who you might want to go to with your next start up idea. For our very first episode we welcome Haseeb Qureshi to the Finoverse.

Walter Jennings: Welcome to Waves in the Finoverse. I'm Walter Jennings, the host of a podcast brought to you by Finoverse. We're talking with the wave makers creating ripples, waves, and tsunamis across finance, crypto, FinTech, Web3, and beyond. Listen weekly to hear the changemakers talk firsthand about their experiences in this dynamic industry.

From professional poker player to software engineer at Airbnb, today's guest in the Finoverse bet against the house and won his belief in crypto from its early origins has made him a firm believer in investing in some of the industry's biggest names such as Coinbase Bitcoin, avalanche just to name a few. He's a managing partner at Dragonfly capital with a focus on the seed stage and early-stage investment in companies in the crypto sector. Investments today tally into the billions of dollars. Some of you might be interested in talking about your next startup idea.

Haseeb Qureshi, welcome to the Finoverse. Dragonfly capital, of whom your managing partner had a very successful start in 2022, with a 650 million US dollar capital raise in April. So how would you characterize the changes in the market over the last six months? 

Haseeb Qureshi: So it's been a very tumultuous six months for crypto. I mean, for almost all asset classes. It's been a tumultuous six months. So you know, since the beginning of 2022, we've seen a lot of macro instability around the world, we've seen a rallying dollar, we've seen inflation numbers that are, you know, kind of unprecedented within the last 30-40 years. And all of that has caused Marcus to get absolutely roiled, especially risk assets.

And among risk assets, crypto is among the riskiest other risk assets. And so largely, what you've seen since the beginning of this year, is you've seen a massive spike in the correlation between crypto and the NASDAQ. And, you know, typically, crypto and, you know, most stocks tend to be very uncorrelated. That correlation increased after COVID. And it has absolutely spiked since November when we saw the first inflation print. And so that's kind of been the story the last six months is that you've seen this whole exuberance, whether it be in, you know, startup multiples or pre Product Market Fit companies that are telling big tech stories, to you know, things like crypto and Web3, all these things have had their massive slashes in valuation.

And, of course, there's the incredible rallying of the dollar in light of the macroeconomic environment that we're in. So it's been a lot of pain in the crypto markets.

Walter Jennings: I've seen you mentioned the correlation between digital and the NASDAQ. In the past, when this market stock markets moved one way, crypto sometimes moved to the other; what are the forces driving that kind of linkage now where when the market goes down, crypto goes down. Is this the increase in institutional investors, or is it just a recognition that this is yet another asset class?

Haseeb Qureshi: It's a few things. So one of them of course, is that before 2020 Crypto didn't really have very much institutional holder base. So if you look at even when Paul Tudor Jones started buying Bitcoin, he wrote this big piece, I think, in the summer of 2020. He's talking about how this was going to be an asset. That was the hedge against monetary inflation. Right? At the time, he was looking at historical data for Bitcoin and seeing how Bitcoin was uncorrelated from any other asset class. There was a lot of initial excitement about putting Bitcoin into a portfolio that Bitcoin was going to be uncorrelated with the other asset.

Now, of course, this kind of flies in the face of the idea that Bitcoin is an inflation hedge, right? Because if you are uncorrelated with other assets, and clearly you're not a hedge, you're just uncorrelated hedges that are anti-correlated. And so from the beginning, this idea that this could be both uncorrelated with other assets and be a good hedge was kind of nonsensical, right? It can't be both. What we've seen is that since 2020, when institutions started coming into buying crypto assets, that's when we saw the correlation first start to increase. And that correlation, a very simple way to attribute that correlation is one, a lot of this correlation is coming from common ownership. If you're an institution and you own crypto, and you also own the NASDAQ, well, both of those two things are risky assets within the perspective of an institution.

So if you want to add risk, you want to take more risk, then you're going to buy crypto, and you're going to buy the NASDAQ. If you want to cut risk, you're going to sell crypto, and you're going to sell the NASDAQ. Right, so you're going to force a correlation between these two assets because of the way your risk models bucket them together in the same risk profile. So that is going to cause some correlation. But most of the really crazy correlation between crypto and the NASDAQ started after November last year. And the reason why that's happening in large part is not because, you know, crypto is responding to the NASDAQ because crypto cares about corporate earnings. Right? Obviously, it doesn't because it doesn't intrinsically care about, you know, the unemployment rate, right? It really doesn't.

The thing that's happening is that there's a common cause for both the fluctuation in the NASDAQ and the fluctuation in the price of Bitcoin. And that is interest rates. Interest rates affect the value of something like Bitcoin. Now, why is that not incoherent? That Bitcoin seems to be this untethered, non sovereign currency that is being affected by, you know, the discount rate on dollars, right? Like, how does that make any sense? Well, the answer is that the interest rate on dollars, you can think of as the risk free rate, okay, this is the amount you'll get paid for taking zero risk.

And if you are taking on a lot of risks, or you are doing something it's going to pay out far in the future, which is ultimately taking on a form of risk, then you need to get paid more, you need to have a higher reward in order for you to take on more risk. So you can think about Bitcoin, like, you know, we talked about Bitcoin as though bitcoin is digital gold, but we all understand bitcoin is not digital gold. Today, it's going to be digital gold someday. But today, Bitcoin is a risk asset, right? It fluctuates a lot. It's not like, Well, gold is much more stable than Bitcoin is. The idea is that in 5 years and 10 years, maybe in 20 years, who knows how long it'll take, Bitcoin will eventually become digital gold.

But how long is that? Is that five years or 10 years or 20 years? If the interest rate on money is 25 basis points or 20 basis points, then it doesn't really matter how long it's going to take. But if the interest rate is basically 4% or 5%, then suddenly it really matters. Is this going to take five years? It can take 10 years? Is it going to take 20 years, and is there any perception that actually that the date on which this vision is gonna be realized, changes are going to massively affect its value? And so that's why interest rates really matter for something like crypto because crypto is a bet on the future.

Anything that is a bet on the future is subject to interest rates. That's why crypto has been around since November when interest rates really started spiking, and the volatility around the expectations of what the Fed is going to do started massively increasing. That's what's caused an enormous amount of volatility and effects on the absolute price level for Bitcoin Ethereum and everything in the crypto landscape.

Walter Jennings: And how are you adjusting your approach to investments in light of the market volatility?

Haseeb Qureshi: So we're venture capitalists, which means that, you know, our investment time horizon is over many years. So look, if you're, if you're looking at something, you know, what is this asking me worth in one year or two years, then what happens in this interest rate cycle? It is everything you basically have to make a macro prediction. But if you're going to exit this position in five years, then well, okay, in five years, it's going to be friggin '25 years from now, right? We're going to be way past this current cycle, and probably there's going to be some return to the norm, whether with inflation rates or with interest rates, five years from now.

And so really what you're thinking on the timescales that we're thinking about, then really what matters is just the secular trends that undergird all of this stuff that are going to be unabated regardless of what happens in a short-term macrocycle. So the question of, what is the future of money? What's gonna happen with NF T's? What's gonna happen with culture? What's gonna happen with, you know, the adoption of this technology around the world? Those are the questions we're trying to answer. What the macrocycle does for us is it changes the entrance price, but it doesn't by any means change the exit price.

And that's why If you're looking at later-stage investments, maybe it really matters to think about where your entrance price comes in. But if you're looking at early-stage investments, very often, the entrance price doesn't make that much of a difference compared to what a potential exit can be. It's mostly about picking the right things and understanding what trends are likely to come to fruition rather than trying to hyper-optimize around. Okay, this should be priced here. This should be priced there. It's more about picking the right deals than it is about timing the market.

Walter Jennings: Haseeb, I'm going to ask you to do something you've asked many startups to do. Can you give me your elevator pitch and we're on the fifth floor. So the elevator is going down? And what's the strength of Dragonfly Capital?

Haseeb Qureshi: Yeah, so Dragonfly. So we're a global crypto fund; we invest in startups, tokens, exchanges, brokerages, custodians, everything under the sun within crypto; we've done it over the last four to five years. We're one of the dominant funds in the space, especially in Asia; those who are in an elevator in Hong Kong right now. So in Asia, we are the dominant fund, and we've very seldom lost any deals in Asia. We've invested in four of the five unicorns that have come out of Asia in the last four years. And we'd like to partner with entrepreneurs very early and work with them on their technology, their go-to market, their partnerships, their branding their PR

Walter Jennings: Ground floor, mate, we've made it; thank you very much. And in Hong Kong, we've always got someone pressing the close door, but your investments give you a great perspective on the vagaries of the world market. Where are you seeing some of the more interesting developments in web three and the technologies which parts of the world excite you at the moment.

Haseeb Qureshi: The thing about crypto that makes it unique relative to a lot of other innovations is that crypto has been global from day one. The nature of the technology makes it so that it is for the moment of its inception or invention. It permeates the entire world. And anybody in any market who wants to take advantage of what's being created in crypto can easily leverage it and start using it every single day.

And, of course, in crypto, we don't often have very good data on who or where this stuff is being used. Because on the blockchain, everybody's just an address. So there are no Venezuelan addresses, there are no, you know, American addresses, there are no Chinese addresses. There are just addresses. And so there are some proxies that we can use to try to get a sense of where the center of gravity is or like to get a kind of vague heat map of where things are going on. It's a lot easier to do on the centralized company side. So like, if you're an exchange, if you're a brokerage, it's very easy to tell where people are coming from.

But if you're looking at adoption directly on the blockchain, where we spend a lot of our time, oftentimes, it's very difficult to tell. So the rough answer is that we don't know; the more specific answer is that I think there are certain sectors, certain parts of the world that I think are, are going to be more aggressive in adopting blockchain technology. In many ways, the places that are getting the most battered by macro, and places where there's the most volatility with respect to their currencies are places where they're gonna have more demand to potentially get away from there, from the constraints of their own local economy and their own local currency, and basically enter into this de facto, globalized, digitized economy.

That is, you know, the on-chain economy. So whether that be adopting stable coins, whether it be finding other ways to interact with this decentralized financial system, I expect it's going to be happening in places like Southeast Asia, Africa, , you know, in parts of the Middle East, where there has been this, this, this chaos that has been brought into place by the global macro instability that we're seeing today. 

Walter Jennings: There has been a push in countries to improve regulatory oversight of digital assets. And I'm wondering if you're seeing any kind of outstanding or concerning parts of the world in terms of their approach to regulation, this was supposed to be the non regulated asset, and it's suddenly in a gray area at the moment,

Haseeb Qureshi: There's no such thing as a non-regulated asset. Regulators can always step in and say what they believe the ground rules are now that doesn't mean that people will follow those regulations. And, you know, one of the things about crypto is not that it can't be regulated, but that the power relationship between regulators and individuals is very different than it is for many other technologies. And so you can, one of the things I like to point out is that it was not regulation that ended up killing the peer-to-peer file-sharing economy.

Actually, you know, even still today, one of the largest links of upload in the world is people using Bitcoin. In Europe and in India in Africa? Bitcoin is so massive, a massive way that content isn't getting distributed to users. The reality is that the reason why is, at least in the US, which is where I spend most of my time, the reason why people shifted their primary music consumption from peer to peer, illegal file sharing to things like Spotify and iTunes was US was convenience was people coming up and finding better solutions as it was not the regulation, it was not the RAA going out and suing individual teenagers who were downloading stuff. The same thing feels to me like the story of crypto is that you can ban crypto, you can regulate crypto, you can say you're not allowed to touch this thing or that thing or whatever.

But practically speaking, these particles are designed in such a way that it's very difficult to stop them at an individual level, right? You can stop them at an institutional level; you can say that, okay, Coinbase is not allowed to touch, you know, this product; you're not allowed to offer staking as a service. And I like to offer lending as a service. And I'd like to offer, you know, this particular token. But if somebody is so motivated, they can always find their way online. And, you know, from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a mobile phone that's connected to the internet, you can interact with the blockchain, you can interact with DeFi, you can buy any token you want, so long as it is listed anywhere in the world. And this is going to change things. It is absolutely going to affect the way that we think about the relationship between financial regulators and the markets that underlie them. In the long run. I think regulators are coming to understand this.

The places where I think regulators have been the most hard-headed are in, generally speaking, countries where they're very light on capital controls, and especially the most stringent forms of capital controls. Right? So you see it, obviously, in China, which has banned crypto, right? You see it in India, which has been very inimical to crypto; you see it in places like Venezuela; you see it in places like Iran; these are places where there's such strong reliance on capital controls that there's really, from the perspective of the regulators slash governments in place, there's just no choice but to rail against crypto.

And very often, you know, with a very slight tone of irony, these are often the places where there's actually the most demand for crypto for obvious reasons, right? And so this has always been the tension in crypto, where people mostly don't want crypto to exist, or I should say governments don't want crypto to exist, is also where citizens do want crypto to exist. And that tension is going to continue to play out over this next decade.

Walter Jennings: Earlier in your life, you were a professional poker player. And how did that set you up to be a VC investor in the crypto field?

Haseeb Qureshi: It's a good question. It was definitely not a straight line from being a poker player to becoming an investor. But there are a lot of commonalities. So for one being a poker player, you learn a lot about risk. You want a lot about how to manage risk and also how to experientially understand risk. One of the things that you'll notice in crypto, the difference between good crypto investors and bad crypto investors, is that bad crypto investors tend only to want to invest in deals that have a very low-risk profile.

So you think to yourself, you know what, I like crypto, and like Web3, I feel like something is happening here, but investing in the tokens or investing in exchanging, it's so dangerous, like I don't really know what the risk profile might look like. So instead, I'm gonna find like some SAS company that offers a very easy-to-underwrite product, it's kind of, you know, crypto and name only, or just sort of adjacent or correlated the crypto market, and I would invest in this and that that feels much more doable. For me, it feels much more in line with my risk appetite for these investors; there are a lot of investors who basically take that approach to investing into Web3.

And basically, I feel like it's the worst of both worlds, where you're getting the risk of the crypto industry because if crypto goes into secular decline, you know this company's revenues are going to struggle, but you don't get any reward. So if crypto goes gangbusters, you know, some regular SAS companies will not appreciate by 1,000x. But you know, the other assets and crypto may well do that. So the exact opposite of the way that you want to be investing in a category like this. That's one thing that poker teaches you; it teaches you how to calibrate on risk. And when it makes sense, from an expected value perspective, to load up on risk and to make a risky bet because the expected value is there.

But you know, one thing I liked to say when I was a poker player is that most human beings have the instinct that they want to control variance; they want to control randomness. They want to minimize variance as much as possible. There are good reasons to do that. Obviously, at a portfolio construction level, you absolutely want to do that. It's due to the benefit, depending on the exact way that you're planning your overall portfolio goals. But if you're at a poker table, and you're trying to control your variance, then I'm going to murder you. I'm going to destroy you because if you're trying to control your variance, that means that if I push up, you're very. So you are going to fall out of every single hand. And so I know exactly how to exploit somebody that is not willing to take variance.

So now if you're willing to go to the mat with me, and you're willing to take that variance, I got to find a different way to attack you. But anybody I see at a poker table, who is trying to control their variance, I know exactly what to do to beat them. And I think the same thing is largely true in investing. Sometimes you have to take the variance. And that's where the returns are. That's where you have to go.

Walter Jennings: Okay, and Haseeb, have you been in front of potential companies to invest in and had trouble keeping your poker face? You've seen some amazing opportunities.

Haseeb Qureshi: I have, and I pass on more amazing opportunities than I've done. So it's been, it's been a harrowing experience. I think, as an investor, you know, the notion of a poker face, I think people have this idea that investing is very adversarial. I think it's generally not true. Most of the time, actually, the best way to win a deal is to really build trust and transparency with an entrepreneur, there are times when you do get into zero sum battles about okay, this term or that term, or whatever.

But for the most part, if you're trying to win a deal, and it's important deal, meaning that other people try to win it to the way that you're gonna win the deal is not by you know, stonewalling your opponent and, you know, trying to exert dominance over them, the way that you're going to win a deal is by convincing them that you're on their side, and showing them demonstrating to them the value that you're going to provide by partnering with them, and that you believe in what they believe in. If you can't do that, and entrepreneurs, good entrepreneurs can sniff out bullshit from a mile away. If you can't do that, then you're probably not going to win that deal.

Walter Jennings: Let's see. But I have a question for you. I've been exploring with a few folks. The promise of web three is decentralization and lack of ownership by the company or the man. And yet we see VCs now buying up and investing in the chains and the companies. How is this not different from AWS and Microsoft?

Haseeb Qureshi: It's a reasonable challenge to what's happening in crypto; there was a tweet a long time ago, back when, back in the early days, when crypto was much smaller if somebody who's asking, I have a tough time believing that the future of money is going to be 1/3 owned by a16z. And a poly chain, I understand the thrust of that challenge. I think it's the correct one. What I would say in response to this is that, you know, one, for the most part, when investors are buying up some of these tokens.

So the first thing to understand is that let's say that you have a token that has no presale; there's no point to sell any tokens to investors. And of course, there have been many things like this; these are called fair launches; although the term has fallen a bit out of popularity, there have been many coins where they just create the coin, they launch it, and whoever owns it owns it. Of course, when that happens, much in the same way as they do in almost any financial market there ends up being some concentration of just, you know, very wealthy actors that decide, hey, I want to own a lot of this thing. And they call it the open market, and they buy it. When that happens, there's a natural diffusion process where the tokens end up in the hands of the people who most want them. And very often, the people who most want them are very well capitalized; they might want a lot of these tokens.

And so, I don't think the right way to think about what crypto does is that crypto is a way of lowering the Gini Coefficient; for some assets, there's no mechanism within crypto to do that. And it doesn't purport to do that. So you know, when investors like Dragonfly, or acts, or paradigm, or whoever, when they end up coming into a token project from the very early days and putting in some money investing in order to receive some tokens. So one thing to understand is that most of the time, the company themselves or the issuer, the tokens themselves, will make sure that there's not too much concentration of the token on any single actor.

So if you have a lot of actors, right, let's say there are, you know, six, seven VCs that are in round. And so, you know, there might be something like 20% of the token supply is owned by six or seven VCs. Okay? Well, that's very often the case, even at a fair launch, that six, or seven actors own something like 20% of the supply, if not even more concentration than that. But then second, like, we're all different people. And the important thing that's happening is that it's not that VCs as a category only have this much of a token; VCs are also actors, and we're not all in cahoots with each other. And so if I disagree with a paradigm or policy disagrees with us, we're going to vote in a different direction, we're going to think in another way, we're going to make different choices about the way in which we participate in the governance of this protocol.

So that'd be my answer to that particular dress; I would look if you have a protocol where a single VC owns 20% of the token supply. That's crazy. You know, we have a pretty hard variable that we never get anywhere near on any token we own. And the same is true of most high-quality VCs I've seen in the space.

Walter Jennings: Okay. Look, Dragonfly Capital works to a five-year time horizon for its investment or longer, which are the sectors that now represent the greatest opportunity for you.

Haseeb Qureshi: That's always hard to say if I knew that I would be a lot better at this job. I would say that look; maybe it will reframe the question in a way that I think I can give you more purchase on it. Is that? I think right now, anytime that you're in a bear market, like we certainly are today, generally speaking, the best investments are the ones that solve the problems that were exposed during the last Bull Run.

And so okay, what were the problems that were exposed in the last Bull Run? It seems pretty clear that there are a lot of problems with blockchains, around scalability, around interoperability, around usability, around privacy, around identity, these basic core problems that we've known about for a very long time that came to a head over 2021 and 2020. That showed us, hey, this stuff is still not ready yet, it's not ready for primetime, we can't really scale to hundreds of millions of users, much less 10s of millions of users on any single blockchain, until we address some of these underlying problems.

So over the next two to three years, that's what I'm really looking at, is okay, there's going to be another bull market at some point, when we get there, what are the big problems that need to be solved before we get to that next phase of the crypto market cycle? That's the kind of thing that I want to be investing in. Now, that teases up for the next Bull Run,

Walter Jennings: I have seen by number there are dozens, if not hundreds, of companies trying to get your attention. What are some of the more effective ways companies have brought themselves to dragonfly capital? And you know, not a firm you might have identified but someone who identified you as they want to have in our shareholder book,

Haseeb Qureshi: Generally speaking, you know, as an investor, we are constantly being, every investor that's worth their salt is constantly being inundated. And so, in order to rise above the froth, you need to be able to get their attention. And so the easiest way to do that is to get a warm intro. So somebody we've worked with, somebody we already have a relationship with, who can vouch for you and say, you know, this person, this person is a real deal, this startup is a real deal, that's gonna get you a lot of the way to just getting on are getting top of mind for us.

The other thing I would say is that a lot of our deals that we do is not inbound and outbound. So if you are just out there, you know, telling your story, shipping software, getting users building cool stuff, we're probably going to notice, because we pay a lot of attention to what's going on, on the kind of this the stage of crypto, which tends to be Twitter, and, you know, WeChat, and these other platforms, where these kinds of things make the rounds.

So if you are, if you're doing cool stuff, there's a good chance that we're going to find you. And so just keep being public, keeping loud, keep making cool things. And these are going to find you if you're doing your job as a founder.

Walter Jennings: Let's see, one of the technologies or approaches in web three that has gained greater prominence in the last year has been the Dow, which decentralized autonomous organization. Do you see Dows continuing as in their niche performing their role, or do you eventually see greater acceptance and integration of these because they represent a fairly new form of corporate governance?

Haseeb Qureshi: I have mixed feelings about Taos, I think Dows is one of the concepts that became very overhyped in 2021. And is now going through a bit of a trough of disillusionment. So there's been a big retracement and a lot of Dow activity. And part of it, of course, is just the broader decline in crypto prices, which means that there are a lot fewer well-capitalized hours, but just organic Dow activity has gone down; I don't think the concept of a Dow is going anywhere. It's very clear. This is a concept that is here to stay and taps into something very, very important about human organization in a digital-first world.

But you know, we've seen, for example, with the Uchi Tao charge that was brought by the CFTC, that Dows are also not impenetrable. And if you are participating in a Dow that is performing some kind of illegal activity, Dows are not magic, they are not some kind of, you know, a shield that prevents you from any kind of legal liability. And there's a lot of innovation going on on the legal side of how to create deals that have some kind of liability shield that can protect the underlying members from, you know, full liability for everything that's happening at the data level.

There are a lot of big questions that I think have yet to be resolved. And I think a lot of data governance has also been very bad. And we've seen, you know, a lot of debacles, whether it be from sushi to fail to, you know, others that have fumbled over the last year and shown that Dows again, they're not magic, the difficulty of creating, you know, human projects that are well run governed well thought through, and that solve real problems remains as difficult as it was before the concept of a Dow, a Dow is a particular structure such wrapper or set of concepts that can help organize the collective activity of individuals on the internet. But the difficulty of doing that in a sound, unjust way is as difficult as it was, you know, two years ago.

So I think there's a lot of work that still needs to be done and figuring out what is the right way to govern these things going forward, as well as the right way to legally structure them such that they do give one the basket of goods legal protections and expectations that they have going into the concept of Dow.

Walter Jennings: Haseeb, I have been working for a few years at a regulated digital asset exchange. There has been much talk over the last few years over the promise of tokenization, or security token offerings, which have been likened to an IPO on web three; what is the promise or barriers for STO adoption, because, you know, we're not just not seeing the deal flow anticipated. 

Haseeb Qureshi: To be clear from inception, I have been bearish on the STO story and Dragonfly we have not invested into. I don't think we've visited any STO platforms; the primary security tokens that have garnered much adoption on the chain have been security tokens that plug into defy and do interesting things such as, for example, you know, maker, maker Dow, which is largest on stable chain coin, going out taking its reserves and using it to buy securities to earn a yield on their underlying collateral.

So, you know, my view, basically, on security tokens is that the problem with security tokens is that they don't quite capture the thing that makes blockchain so powerful, in that they're not permissionless. They're not self-sovereign, they don't exist purely in the blockchain, internet native space, and they also don't intrinsically plug into the systems that already exist within traditional finance, right? So in a world where, okay, you have this security token that's on the chain, presumably, it's tokenized.

But it's still actually sitting on, you know, at the DTCC, it's still got t plus two settlement because the underlying person who's holding it doesn't actually settle it in real-time, even though the claims on the blockchain are moving around in real time when you have this incongruence between the real thing and the representation of the thing. That's where you lose a lot of the advantages of blockchain. Blockchains are at their best when the thing that they're governing is entirely digital and entirely lives on a digital ledger.

So whether it be a digital good, whether it be an NFT, whether it be you know, hard drive space, whether it be mining power, whether whatever, all these things are purely digital assets. And a purely digital asset can be governed effectively, purely in a blockchain system, the moment you try to pull in things from the real world that don't have their system of record, actually live on the blockchain, then you start getting a lot more complexity and the advantages of blockchain start to really get watered down.

Now, that doesn't mean that they don't exist, whether they can't exist, they can, but it requires a tremendous amount more coordination and a tremendous amount more integration. In order for that to work. If the exchanges or if the, you know, the brokers or the custodians that actually hold the underlying stocks that are being tokenized are not playing ball or not totally integrating the blockchain as being the dominant system of record for where these things are and what they're how they're being held, then you're just gonna get a very, very painful experience, which is the way that STOs largely feel today,

Walter Jennings: I want to ask a question, the Dragonfly, how did the name come about? Is this your spirit animal?

Haseeb Qureshi: So there's actually a very famous poem by an ancient Chinese poet about the dragonfly. The dragonfly, traditionally, represents the beginning of spring because the dragonfly is the first animal that ends up coming out and exploring the spring. The other thing about the dragonfly is that it's actually the animal that has the highest hunting success rate.

And so these two elements of Dragonfly. Dragonfly, first as a pioneer of a new season of a new world, when coming out of winter, and then second, as a dragonfly being a very, very skillful hunter, those two things are, I think, the essence of what we do at Dragonfly. So that's why we chose the name.  

Walter Jennings: Now I'm in Web3 marketing. And, you know, I love the little homage to 80s Gaming that was the opening of your webpage, but then you land pretty quickly on a fairly radical design that, in one page, summarizes your business plan. And as you scroll down, we see a few things like, you know, global from day one, which you explained, but you say technology is culture. And I'd like to challenge you on that. How is technology culture?

Haseeb Qureshi: When we say technology is culture, what we mean is that one of the things Web3 has done is created this interplay between, you know, in the early days of crypto and blockchain technology, people thought about blockchain and Bitcoin as fundamentally these things, these particular innovations that were used as products. One of the things that have become clear is that as technology evolves, technology ends up instantiating cultural change. So that was true, of course, a Facebook and social media and Tik Tok and all these things have massively changed the way our culture operates.

The same thing starts to become true within Web3 The idea that it's not just a technological change that, okay, you use a different product, you use a different way to settle money, use a different way to interact with financial services. It's more than that. It's this idea that, hey, we want to actually approach the world in a different way. This idea that things should be decentralized and we should not have too much power concentrated into individual companies or individual people, the idea that artists should be getting compensated for their work in a very different way than in the traditional models, where, you know, ultimately, it's the distributors. It's the middleman. It's the, it's the systems that be, and the cultures that pre-existed and predated you that have the real power and the real control.

Now we're giving that power back to individuals. All this stuff, at the end of the day, is the interplay between technology and culture. And as technologies mature, and become more robust and become more adopted, inevitably, they end up having an impact on how people think about the way the world ought to be structured. That's exactly the same thing that happened with web two. And it's now beginning to happen with web3. 

Walter Jennings: Now, let's see if you've been a great guest. And I'd like to grant you a wish. Let's clear up the most common misconception people have about you or your fund, you know, what is the refrain or the comment or the insight that you just would love to get rid of,

Haseeb Qureshi: I guess, you know, what, some people perceive us to be in the Asia fund, because of the fact that we have such a large presence in Asia, and we've done some of the deals there, we were very careful to tell people that we're a global fund. And when I say a global fund, what we mean is that we, you know, today we have 50 plus people around the world, in Singapore, Hong Kong, the US, Western Europe, I myself based in the US most of the time.

And our approach to investing in crypto is that we invest everywhere. We don't invest in, in particular geography, we don't try to index; we don't have a basket of Asia stuff, a basket of us stuff, and we kind of mix and match. We try to do the best deals from anywhere in the world. And our presence in Asia, as well as our presence in us, we see as complementary to that underlying project. So that, to me, is probably the biggest thing that doesn't happen that often anymore. I'd have been a lot more in the early days of dragonfly.

These days, I think people see us in so many deals in the western market that some people don't even know how impressive we are in Asia.. So I feel like the pendulum has gone both ways. As we've matured as a platform.

Walter Jennings: I've asked each guest if they could take one song with them into the universe that would kind of be the soundtrack of their life. Is there any music that comes to mind that you want to have following you?

Haseeb Qureshi: I guess you'd have to be Queen if I could take a Queen album with me into the universe. I feel like that'd be that would suit my life fairly well. It both has the drama, and the energy and the iconoclasm and I think I want to be carried with me into the universe.

Walter Jennings: And is there any track that gets you out on the dance floor before any of the others? Any one's favorite?

Haseeb Qureshi: Somebody to love? That's the name of the song somebody loves? It's fantastic. Fantastic. Sounds like we've been on my ears. 

Walter Jennings: Haseeb, you started your education at the University of Texas in Austin with a BA in philosophy? How did that set you up to be a great VC investor?

Haseeb Qureshi: It didn't. Actually, it was completely orthogonal to anything I've done in the rest of my life. So actually, in school, I studied English and Philosophy. So okay, even more, useless when it comes to actually getting anything done with. 

Walter Jennings: I was French and economics. 

Haseeb Qureshi: But the other half of that seems to have served you. I was, you know, kind of purely head in the clouds when I was in my academic life. But, you know, coming into investing, I would say that philosophy, I think, to an extent has helped me and being structured in my thinking and being able to very clearly lay out an argument and understand its weaknesses.

And then on the English side, I do a lot of writing. And I think that that has helped me in being able to communicate and express myself in an industry where there really has been, at least historically, there's been a dearth of good writers and people who can actually explain all the really complex things that are going on in this space. So you know, nothing is ever really wasted. And although I joke that my education was kind of worthless, in reality, it's given me advantages that many other people in space don't have. 

Walter Jennings: Haseeb, we could have a whole show just dedicated to the advantages of a liberal arts degree versus specific other opportunities that are available. Thank you very much.

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