Tick-tock, it’s SPAC o’clock.

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We are barely into 2021, and 144 SPACs have already IPOed this year, compared to 248 of last year. The average size is about $300 million, and quite a few are focusing on Fintech and financial services. Here, for comparison, is similar data on venture capital funds — printing about 500 entities per year, with a median of around $100 million.


We want to talk about Hashmasks. And in particular, the one selling for $650,000. That, in the context of the $3.5MM Beepl art sale, and $1.7MM Rick and Morty NFT sale. More deeply, we want to talk about financial assets, the value of things, and the additive nature of new channels and ecosystems as old ones become commodified.

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The reader will be familiar with the traditional asset classes — equities, fixed income, with maybe some cash equivalents and alternative investments. These represent somewhere around $50 to $100 trillion of value. …


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Long Take

Despite its best efforts to the contrary, Robinhood did end up stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.

Melvin Capital, the $8 billion hedge fund that didn’t find GameStop funny, lost 53% of its portfolio in January ($7 billion) trying to short against the rallying cries of the Reddit Capitalist Union. Gabe Plotkin also faces the embarrassment of having to get bailed out by your old boss.

Speaking…


We gaze with wonder at over $1 billion in raises announced last week, and over $10 billion in Fintech company value creation. Let’s look collectively at Checkout.com raising $450 million at a $15 billion valuation, Affirm more than doubling after its IPO to $30 billion, digital lending enabler Blend raising $300 million, and payments enabler Rapyd raising $300 million. As an adjacent API play, we can also mention MX getting $300 million as well for banking data aggregation.

What do all of these companies have in common?

Before we go there, however, we need some operating metrics. First up, Affirm…


Over the last 12 years, $1 trillion of value has appreciated into existence. It may be a little more or a little less tomorrow, give a few $100 billion. It may one day reach $10 trillion, or $100 trillion, or stay at $1 trillion forever. It may even go to $0. But regardless of all that, $1 trillion of value has indeed materialized and grown on blockchain-based financial networks since 2008. Here it is.

If you are a financial advisor or a trust company, you have missed out on $1 trillion in capital appreciation for your customers. Regardless of how…


You are here, in 2021, and everything is roaring.

Bitcoin has never been more valuable, hitting $34,000 and $630 billion in market capitalization. Cool, smart, memetic digital gold. Ethereum has never been more functional and economic, and flying 10x since its lows back to $1,000, over $100 billion in market cap. $15 billion in collateralized assets (TVL), over $20 billion in stablecoins, and so it goes. Welcome to January 4th.

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Hi Fintech futurists —

You should be out partying! Or rather, you should be inside, partying. I guess reading the Blueprint is your version of inside-partying. And writing it is *our” version of inside-partying. Glad we got that established.

All that partying makes us think of what an absolutely schizophrenic, psychotic bummer the year 2020 turned out to be.

Welcome then, dear reader, to our 2020 retrospective. A new shape has been emerging in this corpus of writing, and here is the best stuff — according to you.

Here are some 2020 highlights…

Financial Models and Valuations for Neobanks, Digital Wealth, and Coinbase

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The holidays are here, so we are going a bit lighter in the serving size to the end of the year. But the meal should still be delicious.

The guiding concept for today is power structures and hierarchies. The threads of hierarchy are woven with neural fibers into our mammalian brain. It is a shortcut for resource allocation, and the utility function of the super-organism created by the collection of animals into a social construct. If we have a mental model of who is strong and wields power, we do not need to adjudicate it often with violence. …


The holidays are here, and we all deserve some gifts. Right? The best kind of gift is a one that you didn’t expect, but wanted for a long time.

SPACs are like that, but for Fintech companies. You are just minding your own business being a start-up, thinking “how many more months of capital do I have until we are bankrupt.” Or, “this COVID thing is really getting people to download our app and trade a lot of stocks.” …


Negative space. It is a key approach artists use to figure out how to see the world more accurately.

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When looking at something straight on, your mind characterizes the image as a collection of objects. Here’s a vase with flowers. Here’s a banana, and that’s an apple. Here’s a table, which is brown. That categorization leads people draw caricatures — whatever the object is in the mind’s eye — rather than translate the visual information directly into a rendering. Interpretation and stereotype hinder our ability to see the underlying truth.

If instead you look at the negative space, you will…

Lex Sokolin

Entrepreneur building next-gen financial services @Consensys @Autonofintech @Advisorengine, JD/MBA @columbia_biz, editor and artist @inkbrick

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