Today we’re announcing the beginning of our token sale for the Asgard Singularity Fund. This article explains why we’re using a blockchain model for our relationship with investors and why we’re investing in Artificial Intelligence. I’ll make sure it’s a worthwhile read.
We live in a digital world, but Venture Capital is still stuck in the ’90s
The digital world is moving fast. Today the five most valuable companies globally are all digital players (Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) with the next giants originating from China are on the rise (Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent und Xiaomi).
The funding situation for startups has improved significantly too. Today we have AngelList, business angels, micro Venture Capital (VC) funds, Corporate VCs, incubators, accelerators, state funds and – most recently – Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs/public token sales).
Meanwhile, however, the fundraising process for Venture Capital companies is typically slow, offline, closed-off, paperwork-intensive, regional and not easily accessible. While society moves forward into the future, the Venture Capital business still feels like the 90s.
I would go so far as to say it’s broken. If you want to invest in a Venture Capital fund, you need a lot of money and personal, direct access to the fund manager. Like Private Equity, the VC network has been dominated by a closed group of insiders who hoard earnings and influence, while limiting access and benefits for the public.
And VCs are important. Alongside entrepreneurs, VCs benefit the most financially from the creation of world-leading companies. Without the capital given by VCs, there would be no Facebook, Google, Uber, Amazon or WhatsApp. And the returns for investing in the right companies can be astonishing.
Private Token Sales could change Venture Capital
The idea of combining a token sale (often called ICO) with Venture Capital has been on my mind for a year or more. There were many obstacles to overcome with regard to regulation and operations. I’ll share all my learnings in a more detailed post following the token sale.
As an entrepreneur, I like challenges, and I found this one especially appealing.
As an investor, I’m very open to new ways of raising capital for my VC firm.
We are going to operate on a combination of self-service-fundraising, crowdinvesting, and Venture Capital. Since I have personal experience in all of these fields, I’ve combined them to create something new. The result is a private token sale for a specialized Venture Capital company.
I truly believe that what we’ve come up with could change the whole Venture Capital industry. I say “we” because behind me is a great team of many people who are currently working hard to make it happen.
Transparent. Easy. Fast. Globally accessible Venture Capital.
So what exactly is new, better and different compared to existing Venture Capital processes?
First: Our fund is globally accessible. Anyone from anywhere can invest in our fund without the need of a network or to know us in advance – provided token sales are allowed in your country.
We designed this token sale for individuals and companies who:
- Have significant assets in cryptocurrencies and would like to diversify with a long-term return on their capital.
- Love tech and want to benefit financially from it.
- Want to invest capital easily and quickly into a hard-to-access asset class.
- Are existing Limited Partners ( LPs; standard term for investors in Venture Capital funds) like fund of funds, pension funds, banks, state funds and family offices.
Second: I love transparency. I blog a lot (sometimes in German) and like to share knowledge. This is the same way we structured the Asgard token sale. There’s plenty of information on the landing page. And once you sign-up, we share even more details like our whitepaper, pitch deck and contracts. Instead of requiring investors to proactively ask us for every single document, we share them freely. Knowledge should be free of charge and openly accessible. The same applies to for Venture Capital.
Third: Going hand in hand with transparency; communication is key. During and after the token sale we can be reached via email, LinkedIn, Skype, Slack, Telegram, our blog, public forums and internal discussions boards. Communicating clearly and frequently provides trust and builds a stronger relationship.
Fourth: The entire investment process is digital. Normally it takes months to join a Venture Capital fund. You have to print and read hundreds of pages of contracts. This archaic method is slow, painful, complicated, redundant and far from easy to understand.
Instead, we designed a process that only takes you minutes to complete. You still have to undergo the usual KYC (know-your-customer) and AML (anti-money-laundry) processes, as with every other fund, but we optimized them for accessibility and usability. It’s not written by lawyers (although it is approved by them) and is therefore easy to understand.
Fifth: The digital process leads to faster decisions on both sides. You, as an investor, can decide on your own timing based on available information, and we can check your accreditation to invest within minutes instead of weeks. It’s less complicated and less painful for all of us. Welcome to the 21st century.
Token process vs. standard process
Tradeable Asgard Singularity Token in a straightforward legal setup
Once you invest, we provide even more benefits compared to some (not all) existing VC firms.
Your share in our VC fund will be tradeable, since it’s a token. The Asgard Singularity Token represents your share in the fund and your right to receive future earnings. It’s your proof of ownership alongside the investment contract. You can buy more tokens from other investors, or you can sell your tokens in case of illiquidity. You’ll receive payments from us over the coming years based on the number of tokens you hold at the time of each payment.
Yes, there are ways to sell shares in existing VCs too, but it’s very difficult and expensive. Standard VC funds are not very transparent. There are also no exchange platforms to match buyers and sellers. With a token and use of blockchain technology – a secure, decentralised ledger – the process is significantly transparent, easy and fast.
Furthermore, your investment will not be public record. Only our funds management team will know who owns the tokens.
The legal structure of the Asgard Singularity Fund is straightforward and organized in Germany under European regulation. We don’t need tax-avoiding structures on sunny islands in the Caribbean, nor regulation-avoiding structures in Asian city-states. We operate transparently and understandably.
We’re a special Alternative Investment Fund (AIF). This means our fund is registered with the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), and we report to the German Central Bank.
Investors benefit from further investment opportunities and deep market insights
We also put together an internal investor’s board (I know the name isn’t fancy, so please feel free to suggest something cooler.) Token holders will have access to the board, which will serve as our main way to communicate, trade and gain insights.
We’ll share possible investment deals like co-investment opportunities and follow-on funding opportunities. We’ll also share deep market insights into trends and technologies that are not currently public knowledge. We’ll share our view on the most innovative and ambitious companies currently working on game-changing human-centric technologies.
Token holders can actively support the portfolio and be an integral part of the fund process. Companies always need help with sales, recruiting, strategy and funding. We want to tap into the network of our token holders to help the portfolio increase in value.
The Golden Age of Artificial Intelligence
Those are some, but not all, of our motivations to hold a token sale for our Venture Capital company.
Our primary motivation is the desire to bring about the Golden Age of human-centric Artificial Intelligence.
I truly believe we are the origin of something remarkably great and wonderful. One-day we’ll tell stories to our grandchildren about these exciting times.
Just look at the books by Ray Kurzweil, Charles Stross, Daniel Suarez, William Hertling, Ernest Cline or Daniel Jeffries and you’ll understand how close we are to a future where self-fulfillment and prosperity will be accessible to everyone. The Golden Age for humankind as a whole. Sure, there will be many “ifs” and “buts”. That’s why we have to strongly believe that the future will be a better place to live than the present.
During the past three years at Asgard we’ve invested in amazingly cool early-stage companies developing great AI technologies like Accelerated Dynamics, Micropsi Industries and Parlamind. There are currently 7,500 AI companies out there globally. Hiding among them, we’ll find the 30 teams that will be the AI world leaders of tomorrow.
It’s the perfect time for it. We have plenty of data, processing power, talent, research and tools. We just need a few more brave VCs willing to risk supporting real innovations instead of making safe bets on existing business models with long-established technologies.
Applied AI is already out there – we call it Narrow Artificial Intelligence. These are AI systems that solve very specific tasks. They do it better and faster than humans. You might not call it AI anymore, but Google Search, navigation systems, chess computers, autopilot, trading bots and self-driving cars all those are types of narrow AI. Once we’ve solved a problem with AI, we start calling it software instead.
There are also strong teams (like DeepMind and Sentient Machines) working on Artificial General Intelligence – AI systems that learn faster with less human help. Systems that can transfer knowledge, build a memory and start to reason their decisions.
I could play the number game. I might write that the AI market will grow to $126 billion and add $15 trillion to our economy over the next decade. But for me, it’s more about trusting ourselves that we can make this planet a better place to live. That we humans will live longer peaceful and be happier and wealthier with the help of AI.
Sure, there will be risks and challenges. We need to discuss AI regulations, biased AI and AI morality. But those are topics for another blog post.
We’ll see AI running on blockchains, making them decentralized, autonomous organizations. AI will help us create and manage virtual worlds. AI will make Augmented Reality possible. It’s a great time to be alive.
If you want to learn more about our token sale, go to ico.asgard.vc. Feel free to follow Asgard on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also follow me personally on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
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