Skip to content

My bets on Blockchain

This is going to be a quick and dirty “here are my thoughts” post because I want to get the idea out there and solicit feedback.  I want to talk about what I have done with blockchain, where I think it might be going, and why I am (cautiously) optimistic that blockchain technology isn’t the bubble that many fear.

Back in May I decided that bitcoin just might be the real deal. I started to look for ways of investing in it.  It was a tough go.

I found that putting money into bitcoin in Canada was somewhat more difficult than the United States.  I cringed at the idea of providing a bunch of personal information to some exchange site, including drivers license and a credit card. I’m a dinosaur in some respects and I get nervous about transferring personal information over the internet.

I also found very few ways of playing the trend via the stock market.  There were basically zero publicly traded company’s that I could find.

I ended up taking only a small position in bitcoin and ethereum (really small).  But I also did another, much smarter thing.  I took a tiny position in Overstock.com.

The size of the position was inconsequential.  I’m not going to pretend I got in before the move or even that I understood what Overstock was doing.  I did it simply so I would have a placeholder in my portfolio and I would be aware of it if something happened.

In mid-September something happened and the stock started to go.

Now fortunately but unfortunately, I was really caught up in the Helios and Matheson story at the time, and so I didn’t pay a lot of attention to Overstock.  My mind doesn’t multitask all that well, and delving into blockchain while I was trying to decipher Moviepass just wasn’t within my capacities.  Its too bad, because if I had I am sure I would have seen what I see now and gotten in about $10-$15 earlier.

Nevertheless, I did get around to looking at both Overstock.com and at other crypto ideas over the last couple of weeks.

A few things have struck me.

Blockchain not Currencies

First, I feel like the real play here is with blockchain, not bitcoin. Getting into crypto-currencies has been a money maker, no question.  But going forward I am of the mind that the winners are going to be companies that have figured out ways to use blockchain technology to eliminate inefficiencies, in particular those associated with the middle man of particular transaction classes.

The most common description I hear of blockchain is that it is a decentralized platform.  That has never really resonated with me.  Maybe the word decentralized is too vague.  After doing much reading and listening on the subject, I have found that the definition that makes more sense to me is to say that blockchain is simply a very effective way of eliminating the middle man.

I know if I was to use that definition publicly I would get a lot of push back: its too narrow, it doesn’t describe all the functionality or possibilities that blockchain can encompass, etc.  But to me, looking for near-term disrupting investment ideas, that is the definition that sticks.

Our world is full of transactions that individuals and companies perform with each other every day.  Each transaction requires a level of trust between the buyer and seller.  In many cases the level of trust required to complete a transaction directly between buyer and seller is not possible.  Maybe its distance, logistics, complexity, could be any number of things.   Whenever we run into this “trust gap” the solution has always been to employ an intermediary that embodies a greater level of trust and through which the transaction can flow.

Of course this middle man takes a cut.  In some cases, especially if its an opaque market, they take a big cut.

The way I look at blockchain is it’s a way of dis-embodying that trust into technology.  The middle man disappears.  The skim shrinks.  Everyone (other then the middle man) benefits.

This makes so much sense to me.  It seems inevitable. It makes me want to go all in.

Overstock

Overstock is the obvious way to play this.  I finally got into Overstock in a more meaningful way in the mid-$30s.  I have added since then.  The stock is parabolic which is frightening and I can just as easily see it going to $35 as $55 in the short run.  I mean who knows when a chart looks like this and is clearly being run around by traders.

In the longer run, I think that what Overstock is doing is fascinating and if it works, the stock will go much higher.

The thing that really jump-started Overstock was their initiative, via their subsidiary tZero, to launch a trading systems for tokens.  That seems to have coincided with when the stock took off.  They also announced their own initial coin offering (ICO) for tZero, which will take place over the next couple of months.

I think these are both great initiatives and are movements in the right direction.   But the most interesting development to me is the blockchain securities lending platform that Overstock’s tZero subsidiary has developed.  Byrnes does a really good job of describing how the platform works on the second quarter conference call.  Start listening at a little after the 20 minute mark.

In this case, the middle man that Overstock is trying to eliminate is the prime broker.  The cut that the prime broker appears to be taking in security lending seems to be abnormally large.  If you want the details of how it works, just listen to the call and do a few google searches.  Its clear that A. this is a very large market and B. there is a lot of waste to be eliminated if the middle man can be removed.

What I also find so interesting about the opportunity, other than that it makes sense, is that even by taking a much smaller piece of the pie than prime brokers currently do Overstock/tZero can make a lot of money because the transaction base is so large.  IHS Markit says that security lending is a $9 billion market.  If this platform can begin by taking even a smidgeon of that, its going to be very significant to the stock.  If the platform goes viral, well then things would get silly.

On the second quarter call Byrnes noted the following about the platform (my underline):

I’ll mention we have about 700 symbols in inventory now. 100 of them are hard to borrow, we have over $100 million in inventory. Another reason I’m in New York is talking to people who have billions or tens of billions of dollars that they want to integrate, they want to provide as inventory. So, we’ll see how this goes, but I’m really quite proud of this system.

So its just starting to scale.  I think it was only 5 weeks old at the time.

I admit I am fuzzy about the economics.  Clearly the play here is to make this advantageous to funds and short sellers by lowering transaction fees and taking a smaller skim than what prime brokers take, and by performing the task with complete transparency.  Byrnes goes on in the call to define the following economics of the platform net to tZero:

This is the best use of blockchain I’ve ever seen, because it addresses exactly the issues that regulators have, that short sellers have, that prime brokers have. I don’t want to be sued if this turns out to be wrong, I think the capacity is 1% of x, if we theoretically got somebody putting in $1 billion, I think we should be generating $10 million through, essentially the bottom line of tZERO, and I think there may be possibilities well beyond that.

None of this is to say that it’s a sure thing that the security lending platform, the ICO platform or any of the other initiatives that Medici (the Overstock subsidiary that owns tZero) has a stake in, are going to pan out.  But I am of the mind that some of them will.

One last thing about Overstock that I think is worth mentioning.  The ICO seems like a really interesting way to raise money to me.  According to the press release that I linked to above, the ICO will give participants a tZero token that has the following attributes:

  • The tZERO token will be tradable on tZERO’s U.S.-regulated ATS.
  • The tZERO token will incorporate profit-sharing features of a security as well as utility features of an app token, including:
    • Token holders will be able to use the tZERO token to pay for fees on the ATS and payment of such fees using tZERO tokens will grant up to a 25% discount as compared to payments made using U.S. dollars. The tZERO token is expected to have additional functionality and token holder benefits to be announced at a later to date and will be included in the offering memorandum; and
    • tZERO believes its token will be the first to offer a percentage of tZERO’s profits, distributed as a quarterly distribution paid into tZERO token holders’ digital wallets.

My take on this (tell me if you think I am wrong) is that the value intrinsic to the token is not based on ownership.  The beauty of it is that its not really an ownership stake.  In fact I am pretty sure you can’t do a US based ICO right now that generates out right ownership in a company (the SEC hasn’t laid down any structure for this yet but again tell me if I am wrong about this).

Instead the token is more like the right to participate in the success of the platform.  I almost want to say that its like an Amazon Prime membership for blockchain technologies but maybe that’s too cheeky and a bit of a stretch.   Nevertheless, the value of the token is a function of the success of the platforms created by tZero, realized via the discounts and dividends that are derived from their success.  So the benefits are most easily realized by participants in the platforms, in this case those who participate in the ICO exchange and the securities lending exchange (maybe others?).

To use a word I hate to use, it all seems very synergistic.

Think about it.  These tokens, while not offering ownership in tZero, are going to give holders a significant discount on transactions on the platforms and are going to give a dividend based on the success of the platforms.  So the bigger the tZero platforms get, the more valuable the tokens are.  And if you are a fund that is thinking about how it would be nice to lend securities without having to have a prime broker take a big chunk of the interest, it probably makes sense to take on some token exposure so you can make your transactions even more cheaply and even get a dividend kick-back that is a function of your own volume to some degree.

Its easy to see how if this works, it could snowball.

Other ideas

Overstock is my favorite blockchain idea hands down and the only one I have a truly meaningful position in.  But I also took small positions in a few others.

I own two Canadian venture stocks, LeoNovus and Posera, which both made JV’s with the company DLT labs.  I will be the first to admit that the details on what comes of the JV’s are murky but I did some work into DLT Labs and they seemed like a legitimate blockchain development company so I figured each was worth a small stab.  LeoNovus also has a proof of concept agreement with a Canadian bank and was interviewed on Capital Ideas TV here.  Both of these stocks are actually up quite significantly today, and I’ll admit that I have questioned whether their growing market capitalizations are justified on multiple occasions today.

I also took small positions in a couple of Chinese related ideas, Xunlei Limited and Xinyuan Real Estate.

Xinjuan has somewhat of a peripheral blockchain idea.  My original impetus to buy the stock was that it appeared cheap compare to other Chinese real estate developers and we seem to be in a bit of a China bull market at the moment.  But its also had a blockchain platform for property financing live for over a year now and that gave me some added reason to take a small spec.  I came across the stock from this youtube video.

Xunlei has a blockchain based product called OneCloud and has recently had an ICO, which is not easy to do for a Chinese company.  The company also has over $5 in cash and investments per ADS, so it appears relatively cheap and thus I figured it was worth a tiny punt.

Again none of these four stocks are significant in size for me. Way less than 1%.  Overstock is the only one I have any real conviction in so far.

Conclusions

I am not going to pretend I have some amazing insights that project the success of any of these companies.  I’ll be clear about this, and I include Overstock in the statement.  This is to a large degree a speculation.  The technology makes sense to me, and in the case of Overstock the applications they have identified make sense to me, but I don’t really know if it pans out in the end.

It is a bit like Helios and Matheson in the sense that while I don’t know how it all plays out, my thinking is this:  I suspect that for foreseeable future the money wanting into blockchain technology assets is going to far exceed the number of available avenues to invest in.  This happens all the time and when it does it floats a bunch of little companies along with it.  A few of these companies turn out to be winners.  Many turn out to be flops.  But getting from here to there can make you a lot of money if you are agile.  So for the time being, picking the eventual winners kind of takes a back seat.  That’s why I was willing to take some bets on the smaller basket outside of Overstock.

And like I said, I don’t even know if Overstock will be a winner here.  Maybe no one will adopt their initiatives and tZero will crash and burn.  I’m certainly no expert in the field.  What I do know is that while Byrnes seems to be more than mildly hated by many, which I think is great, when I listen to what he has to say (for example as the 2014 key note at this Bitcoin conference) I think he makes a lot of sense.  He clearly has thought this through and made his bet after much consideration for underlying conditions.  I am of the mind that the underlying conditions he describes are accurate, and that the direction he projects is correct.

So I’m going along for the ride.  And I will tell you what I want to do.  I want to take a really big position in Overstock.  I think the upside is so big if these ideas pan out.

But its really hard to jump heavily into a stock up as much as Overstock is. My position size right now is a relatively modest, but not insignificant, 3.5%.

I am in part writing this post as a request for comment.  Please send me emails with opinions of whether you think this makes as much sense to you as it does to me.  Or not.  And whether you think Overstocks initiatives or any of the other company’s I’ve taken a spec position in, will pan out or not.

Its so new and uncertain, but also seems to make sense.  So I am open minded.

Advertisements
30 Comments Post a comment
  1. My biggest push-back on the notion of the distributed ledger is that, as more countries enhance their network defenses, I think it becomes less and less likely that distributed ledgers really work in the intended form. Additionally, I find it *highly* unlikely that anything is truly secure online, but I’m biased because I used to work in the intelligence community. If Bitcoin for example, has not already been compromised somehow by the NSA I would be surprised. I suspect intermediaries will always be out there in some form as a security check, but I could absolutely be wrong.

    http://thisweekinstartups.com/peter-smith-blockchain/

    That being said, there are some other really great podcasts, etc here which make some compelling points. And it’s worth noting that some big stock exchanges like CBOE are working to roll out blockchain exchanges as well.

    Basic Intros
    http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/blockchain/index.html?curator=alphaideas&utm_source=alphaideas
    https://anders.com/blockchain/
    https://github.com/xel/blockchain-stuff

    Kind of a sprawling discussion here: https://tim.blog/2017/06/04/nick-szabo/

    A tightened analysis via 3 episodes: http://investorfieldguide.com/hashpower/

    Blockchain as a platform is a great idea. Sharing protocols designed to be inherently trust-free makes sense. Where I get held up is the current level of hype. Everyone and everything is blockchain and it smacks of the way people were talking about the cloud 5 years ago. I feel like I have a lot of friends speculating on Bitcoin, which you’ve sort of pointed out is the less interesting part of the tech. Still, to me it indicates the level of excitement around this stuff and (I think) is setting up investors to be disappointed.

    If you have any other educational materials I’d love to read/listen. No position long/short yet. It still feels early to me?

    October 30, 2017
    • Thanks for all the links, thats great! For me, it seems like the blockchain angle, at least as an investable idea on the market, not with ICOs, just started maybe a month ago? I know I was looking for blockchain investments in early summer and other than OSTK there really wasnt any way to do it. For sure the level of excitement has grown exponentially since then, I mean HIVE, which is really a coin play cuz its a miner, is worth like $500mm!?! Nevertheless, I am inclined to believe that the hype around blockchain lasts more than a month. But I could certainly be wrong about that.

      October 30, 2017
  2. arf #

    Blockchain technology is build on miners. The more miners there are, the less likely someone can get a critical mass of miners (read: computing power) themselves and overthrow the network and double spend. So really what protects bitcoin is the enormous $ figure in ASIC chips that are mining out bitcoins.

    I think almost all of those ICO’s are scams or in a really grey area. If there is not a significant number of computing power behind it, then it isn’t really secure. This is also the major flaw of bitcoin I think, once most coins are mined out, transaction costs will have to go up for the miners to get a decent ROI.

    I would be highly suspicious of anything ICO related since so many people who don’t have the slightest clue how it works throw money at it blindly.

    See this link for more info:
    https://bitcoin.stackexchange.com/questions/46608/can-there-be-a-blockchain-without-mining

    As a trade it could work well though.

    October 30, 2017
  3. blogchain #

    check out Digimarc
    DMRC

    Blockchain for Blockheads

    https://blog.digimarc.com/ArticleDetails?UrlName=Blockchain-for-Blockheads

    October 30, 2017
    • Thanks ,certainly a well suited title for my level

      October 30, 2017
  4. Fascinating stuff. So Overstock gets a call option this new business but it gets to raise money via an ICO and not dilute shareholders b/c the tZERO is its own token and on entity? So you get a dividend by owning part of this tZERO ecosystem but the profits can flow back into Overstock? I will listen to the CC later I’m just trying to understand the big move up in Overstock on this. Is it an Ethereum based token? They’re blazing a trail with the SEC, you are correct that it’s dicey to offer equity tokens but it’s a matter of time and someone will do it. I’ve been investing in a few tokens that have large network effect disruption potential but it’s very hard to quanitfy and the market caps are already so high it’s kind of goofy. I own some CVC, GNT, MYST, XMR, and then of course BTC and ETH.

    On Mon, Oct 30, 2017 at 11:41 AM Reminiscences of a Stockblogger wrote:

    > Lsigurd posted: “This is going to be a quick and dirty “hear are my > thoughts” post because I want to get the idea out there and solicit > feedback. I’m want to talk about what I have done with blockchain, where I > think it might be going, and why I am (cautiously) optimisti” >

    October 30, 2017
    • Yeah I think that is pretty much how it works and I agree, when you start thinking about what is really going on here, its fascinating! The ICO, when structured like this for an existing public company, is a really interesting way to raise money.

      There are tangible benefits for the token holder. Those benefits, however, do not include ownership in the traditional sense. But the token holder does have an interest in seeing the platform succeed, which is an important side benefit I think and the outcome is kind of like ownership only better because the token holder is likely going to be the consumer as well. I say that because ICO buyers are going to be those that benefit most from holding the token, and the token holder that accrues the most benefit is the one that plans to use the platform. And once they are a token holder, they have an interest in making that platform succeed. So if you get funds on board in the ICO buying tokens, its in their best interests to subsequently deliver assets to the platform so they can see the value of their tokens rise and take advantage of the token benefits to their full extent. Its a big circle of mutual benefits.

      On the other side, Overstock gets a capital injection they can use to facilitate growth of the business, which presumably will lead to growth in the value of the token. And I imagine, though I don’t know this for sure, haven’t seen it detailed, that Overstock will keep a significant percentage of the tokens so they participate in increases of token value as the platform grows.

      For Overstock/tZero one way I was thinking about it is that its like issuing debt that will never have to be repaid, where the interest paid is a function of the platform success (in terms of lost revenue from the discounts and from dividends paid), and where you get the added benefit that your counterparty in the offering is your customer, so once they buy in you’re all in bed together and all have a stake in seeing the thing succeed.

      Its quite something.

      October 30, 2017
  5. arf #

    Thought about it some more and don’t really like it. The whole point of blockchain tech is the mining part. If there are enough miners that are decentralized, the network is secure (since nobody is powerful enough to change it). The limiting factor that makes the network secure and hard to enter for any one party is obviously the cost of buying computing power to mine.

    But with this idea, a market of only $9 billion does not seem large enough. Competing institutions who will see their market share taken away can pool together money and buy enough computing power to try and get a majority of computing power so that they can change the rules and ruin trust in the system. But that is not the only problem.

    Who are going to be the miners for Overstock? They will have to bank that a large enough number of miners who want the system to succeed enter the system fast enough to make it secure. Will it be similar as Ethereum (where regular computer chips have a chance of mining) or Bitcoin where you need ASIC (specialized chips) to have half a chance? They will obviously take a sizable chunk of the profits, because they need to be compensated for the large amount of computing power they invested in this (so how much will Overstock get?). And their electricity costs. If Overstock gets a large portion of the profits, then what do the miners get? Without significant computing power, it would be a pretty fragile and useless cryptocoin.

    And if Overstock holds most of them, then it is not really decentralized, kind of defeating the purpose of the whole ICO.

    And electricity costs are obviously a bottleneck, this is why 60% of bitcoin miners are currently located in China. Basically giving the Chinese government (or some other shady government) indirect control over the system.

    On top of that Byrnes seems to have a shady reputation. First website painting this guy as some sort of sober Steve Bannon:

    https://whitecollarfraud.blogspot.com/2013/01/overstockcom-ceo-patrick-byrne-sleeps.html

    And this:
    https://www.sequenceinc.com/fraudfiles/2007/07/patrick-byrne-overstockcom-ceo-has-surprised-me/

    These ICO’s are like a super magnet for hucksters. Unless you understand the technical details a lot better than me (please enlighten me in that case 🙂 ), I would stay away from this. That said I have a negative bias against crypto’s (don’t think they will be nearly as disruptive as most think).

    My 2 cents.

    October 30, 2017
    • I’ll be honest, I don’t understand what mining has to do with this? This isn’t a coin right? Its an ICO token that is bought and once it is bought it can be traded but I don’t see what is being mined here?

      October 31, 2017
      • btw I think of the term “mining” and “processing” interchangeably and its really the latter that matters here. Bitcoin miners get coins as rewards for their processing effort.

        https://www.bitcoinmining.com/

        Not that i’m the authority on this, but I think its this network of miner/processors that give a blockchain its decentralized nature (and hence credibility).

        November 1, 2017
    • pone1 #

      I think you are confusing decentralization with blockchain. A blockchain is a public ledger of dated transactions. A blockchain can be implemented centrally and still be a blockchain.

      Decentralization is simply an implementation designed into Bitcoin as a way to avoid government control of the currency. Who does that actually matter to? Criminals? Billionaires? Libertarians? I mean 95% of the potential users of Blockchain do not care at all that the government cannot control its internal workings, because 95% of the potential users are going to have to follow the governmental mandates for those currencies anyway, and they will do so whether or not the currency is controlled by the government.

      The use of huge amounts of electricity as a way to decentralize control of Bitcoin is clever, but it also raises the possibility that Bitcoin will never be a good way for individuals to spend 20 cents because eventually there will be no cost-effective way to do small transactions quickly in Bitcoin. Bitcoin may end up being a specialized libertarian currency that the super-rich use to hold value.

      Back to reality: what makes this ICO novel is that they are tying an economic interest in a company to a token. The details of how they do that are what matters, and we do not have enough information yet to really form an informed opinion.

      October 31, 2017
    • Anonymous #

      Arf you have interesting points

      Regarding who will be the miners – anyone who bought the ICOs will have vested interest in the system’s success. I can see institutions like Fidelity or big funds coming on board as miners. Computing and power efficiency should come also come down over time, making electricity cost a minor factor for big financial institutions.

      Besides we’re at a stage where excitement dominates the need for details. Look at bitcoin itself – the main selling point of bitcoin is fraudulent – it’s billed as this decentralized thing securely out of government reach. But as you rightly pointed out – the miners/processors are concentrated in China and the chinese govt could possibly seize physical control and vote to implement new algorithms – like add 50 zeros to bitcoin supply

      November 1, 2017
      • I would appreciate if someone could explain how miners play into this. I don’t get that? This isn’t a bitcoin like token that is mined over time right? Tokens are purchased as part of the ICO. What am I not understanding?

        November 1, 2017
    • Arf you have interesting points

      Regarding who will be the miners – anyone who bought the ICOs will have vested interest in the system. I can see institutions like Fidelity or big funds coming on board as miners. Computing and power efficiency should come also come down over time, making electricity cost a minor factor for big financial institutions.

      Besides we’re at a stage where excitement dominates the need for details. Look at bitcoin itself – the main selling point of bitcoin is fraudulent – it’s billed as this decentralized thing securely out of government reach. But as you rightly pointed out – the miners/processors are concentrated in China and the chinese govt could possibly seize physical control and vote to implement new algorithms – like add 50 zeros to bitcoin supply

      November 1, 2017
      • pone1 #

        Lsigurd, I doubt that the TZero token is mined at all. I have not seen any details suggesting it would be, and what utility would that serve? TZero WANTS government regulation. They WANT centralization. The utility of their token is to pay for – and possibly receive – value on a central traded exchange for specific vertical applications that take place on that exchange.

        It was never a stated goal of TZero’s token that it would make you anonymous, help you to escape inflation, or allow you to circumvent the government.

        Bitcoin has anti-inflationary features built in, but I am pretty sure that there is no limit to the number of TZero’s tokens that can be issued. Just as a company could issue more stock to raise capital, I am pretty sure that TZero could raise more money later by issuing more tokens.

        I think Bitcoin is really addressing a totally different set of needs, and the mining features of Bitcoin are not required or needed for TZero’s application.

        November 1, 2017
  6. Brett Kronewitter #

    Lsigurd, thanks for the post. I have found the articles on cryptocurrencies by Aswath Damodarn to be some of the best writing on the subject (https://seekingalpha.com/article/4116418-bitcoin-boom-asset-currency-commodity-collectible). I also found the podcasts on investors field guide mentioned in the comment by secondhandstocks to be interesting. Long BTC, ETH, LTC.

    October 31, 2017
  7. h/t to @teamonfuego for finding this, looks like the stock lending platform is expanding at very fast rate, Byrnes says up to $8b in assets and expects (I think he says “will be”) $100b when launched Nov 1 https://www.pscp.tv/w/1nAJEWPzELeKL – I am doubling down on my position

    October 31, 2017
    • pone1 #

      Do not use the word “asset”. T0 does not own $8B in assets. What they have is contracts allowing them to advertise $8B of stock owned by other entities, probably mutual funds and hedge funds. If they have $100B of stock in their inventory soon, that does not mean they will loan a single share to anyone. The system has to gain traction. It’s entirely possible that they have $100B of stock in inventory and end up facilitating $100M of short sale transactions, on which they might make 1/2% to 1%. $1M of revenue on $100B of inventory wouldn’t be a great result.

      What T0 is doing is exciting for sure. But this is a pure VC-level venture right now and it is not clear how it will fly with short sellers. One thing I do worry about is what is the incentive of a short seller to use this system instead of a prime broker? Byrne makes the point that some prime brokers are “cheating” and allowing multiple shorts against the same stock. As a short seller, won’t you like that? You have an easier time locating hard-to-locate shares if your prime broker stretches the locate rules? The counterpoint to that would be that maybe T0 can sell the rights to short at a better price, so there should be an economic incentive to use T0 as part of your mix.

      October 31, 2017
      • I’m skeptical that naked shorting is as serious issue as Byrne makes it out to be. If there are many naked short-sellers who have survived this bull market I’d be impressed… Clearance times on the other hand, matter quite a bit. Going from T-3/T-2 to T-0 is a big deal for active traders.

        October 31, 2017
      • pone1 #

        secondhandstocks, I agree clearance is a huge issue. But T0 isn’t replacing the existing clearing system, are they?

        Regarding shorting, Byrne is claiming that 75% of Goldman Sach’s revenue is from its stock lending operation!!! So that market is huge. I’m just asking out loud where are the incentives for short sellers: when will they prefer the existing system using prime brokers and when will they prefer something like T0.

        There is a potential disintermediation of a large market here.

        October 31, 2017
      • pone1 #

        I meant T0 is not replacing clearance for stock purchases. For short selling, I guess T0 would potentially become a key link in the clearance, but maybe that is only in the form of establishing clear documentation. The actual clearance might still be done by the broker of the short seller, using the slower current method? T0 is just locating stock for the short seller.

        It’s not clear to me how does the short seller interact with his primary broker once he locates and reserves shares in the T0 system? Why would the primary broker believe the short seller’s representation that he has the stock available to short (via T0)?

        What would be extremely cool would be if the government did a deal with T0 and used a system with blockchain for clearance of both stock purchases and short selling. The clearance system in the US is horrific, and systems like the one used in Australia are light years ahead of us.

        October 31, 2017
  8. pone1 #

    This is a very juicy read that affects T0’s stock lending system:
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-stocklending-lawsuit/u-s-pension-funds-sue-goldman-jpmorgan-others-over-stock-lending-market-idUSKCN1AX2NK

    Basically, a prior stock lending system developed in 2012 by a startup company got Goldman Sachs feeling so threatened that they told major banks using that system to stop using it or Goldman would stop doing business with them. A mystery LLC then bought the startup and shelved their technology. Now, in response, a group of funds are suing the largest banks claiming that these actions constitute anti-trust.

    This is interesting and relevant to T0 in a few ways:

    * It’s quite likely that competitors have been silenced by this situation, which means T0 may get a few years of head start on any serious competition in stock lending.

    * Most companies would shy away from going head-to-head with Goldman in a potential legal fight, or having their customers threatened by Goldman. But Byrne is someone who has made short-selling a personal issue, and he isn’t going to back down from a fight.

    * It’s clear from the article that the mutual funds will be only too happy to put their inventory onto T0’s system. Because the funds will make more money from that inventory. What is less clear is whether the potential short-sellers, who are acting through intermediary banks and brokers, will be allowed to use that system without possible intimidation.

    * The fact that there is an active anti-trust lawsuit means that Goldman has been put on notice that there are financial consequences for their actions, so it may restrain them. But remember Byrne is making the claim that Goldman has 75% of its revenue coming from stock lending activity, so they are probably going to look for ways to fight the T0 stock lending system.

    If T0’s stock lending system takes off, Goldman might be an interesting short.

    October 31, 2017
    • incentive for short sellers is when all the owners put their stock on T0…as for GS making 75% of revenue from stock lending, thats just nonsense

      November 1, 2017
      • pone1 #

        mspacey4415 The 75% claim is what Byrne is saying in public, frequently, and he is displaying internal Goldman documents in making his claim. It might all be promotional? If it was complete nonsense, he has a big problem on his hands because he is using this “fact” as a key promotional point for tzero’s system and for their ICO.

        I think activities like bond trading and stock lending make up outsized amounts of profit for many investment banks. They have captured the regulators and set up rules that make it very hard for anyone to compete and make those markets competitive. What goes on in bond trading – with 10% points on the bid ask spread for many bonds – and with rules that make it very hard to publish any “unconfirmed” bid or ask on a public exchange, looks like a hysterically corrupt market. It would not surprise me at all that a much more oblique activity like stock lending could be manipulated in an even larger way, because there is very little transparency.

        November 1, 2017
      • pone1 #

        His claim is probably 75% of *profits* not revenues. Sorry about that….

        November 1, 2017
      • merlinvestor #

        Byrnes mean 75% of profits of the GS Prime Brokerage Desk, not 75% of GS profits.

        November 2, 2017
      • Byrnes has said it is revenue on a couple of occasions, including in the video I liked I believe. How come you think it’s profits?

        November 2, 2017
  9. merlinvestor #

    >as for GS making 75% of revenue from stock lending, thats just nonsense

    Yeah I think it is revenues. I do not really mind whether it is revenues or profits, because 75% is a big fraction of either! But the point is it is 75% of the Prime Brokerage Business, not the entire Bank.

    November 2, 2017
    • Yup thanks for the clarification.

      November 2, 2017
  10. MarginOfSaving #

    I agree with your comments on blockchain, but I don’t really see the the similarities with HMNY. With MoviePass, they’re buying subs and trying to business out of it. With blockchain, there’s no question there’s value in the technology, but like you said, some companies will be successful deploying it while others won’t.

    November 18, 2017

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: