The Future of Cryptocurrencies with CryptoEQ Founder & CEO Spencer Randall
January 12, 2021 – By Simon Erickson
Special update: 7investing and CryptoEQ are embarking on a long-term partnership! Click here to see the official announcement.
Bitcoin is changing the world. That’s no longer just a catchphrase, but a commercial reality.
Once considered a short-term fad that made for highly-speculative headlines, cryptocurrencies are now taking a much more prominent role in the business world. They’re being purchased for corporate treasuries and are being deployed in corporate-wide enterprise projects. Individuals now have convenient ways to buy-and-sell hundreds of different cryptocurrencies, many of which may soon be available to purchase directly through bank accounts or stock market brokerages.
So what are investors to make of these fast-paced changes taking place in cryptocurrencies?
In an exclusive interview, 7investing founder Simon Erickson chats with CryptoEQ co-founder and CEO Spencer Randall about how to invest in cryptocurrencies. The two discuss what’s driving Bitcoin’s recent surge in price, major enterprise developments, and how investors should think about allocation
Publicly-traded companies mentioned in this interview include AMD, Facebook, MicroStrategy, NVIDIA, Square, and Tesla. 7investing’s advisors or its guests may have positions in the companies mentioned.
00:00 – Overview and Introduction to CryptoEQ
2:27 – A framework to methodically evaluate what cryptocurrencies are worth
7:00 – Is Bitcoin in a bubble? Introducing CryptoEQ’s stock-to-flow model
11:55 – How investors should think about investing in cryptocurrencies
13:25 – How enterprise are embracing cryptocurrencies. What major projects are on the horizon? And what will these mean for stock market investors?
18:03 – Decentralized Finance and the impact of SmartContracts
19:42 – Network Effects in cryptocurrencies
21:55 – Institutional impacts of cryptocurrencies. Will crypto soon be available for bank accounts and ETFs?
24:55 – Lightning round! Coinbase, Elon Musk, Big Companies & Crypto, Bitcoin-Sponsored Sports Arena, and where Satoshi lives
Simon Erickson 0:00
Hello everyone, and welcome to this episode of our 7investing podcast. I’m 7investing founder and CEO Simon Erickson. If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ve seen quite a bit of headlines about Bitcoin. It’s now pushing $40,000 per Bitcoin and there’s a lot of attention on this asset class. But what does this really mean? What are the fundamentals behind Bitcoin? Is this a viable long term investment strategy? We think that it is at 7investing, and we recently signed a long term partnership with CryptoEQ to help all investors make more sense of what’s going on in cryptocurrency. We simply don’t want anyone to be in the dark, where they don’t know what’s going on with Bitcoin or how it can impact stocks in the market. And so I’m really excited this morning to be joined by Spencer Randall. Spence is the co-founder and CEO of CryptoEQ, and he has a very informed and thorough opinion about what’s going on in cryptocurrencies, Spence, thanks for joining me here on the 7investing podcast this morning.
Spencer Randall 1:05
Thank you for having me on, Simon. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Simon Erickson 1:08
We’re going touch on a lot of topics here, Spence, because I want to pick your brain about what is pushing bitcoins price higher in the retail markets, what’s going on with cryptocurrencies in the enterprise markets, and how investors can get access to this through institutional new products. But let’s start at the 10,000 foot level first on this. We had you on the livestream yesterday. So one question that I’d like to ask you, again, would be can you describe CryptoEQ, which is a company that you created, and what are your goals that you hope to accomplish?
Spencer Randall 1:39
Yeah, thank you, Simon. At CryptoEQ, we’re helping simplify investing, trading and learning about crypto. So when I think back to when I started to wrap my head around Bitcoin, and it took several months, this is back early 2017. It is a very complex space, very complex technology. And I would say that still holds true today. So there needs to be a lighthouse, a trusted brand, you know, really a Morningstar of crypto to help shepherd millions and millions of people into this new asset class. And that’s what the team at CryptoEQ is working hard every single day to do for the 7investing audience, and for the global community of investing and trading.
Simon Erickson 2:26
There is so much speculation around cryptocurrencies right now. You have developed a framework to actually evaluate what they’re worth. Can you tell me about the methodical approach you’re taking to valuing cryptocurrencies?
Spencer Randall 2:39
Another great question. We get this one a lot, right? What’s the fundamental value of something like Bitcoin? There’s so many different crypto assets. There’s 1000s. So very early on, we immediately saw the value in being systematic about the way you think about cryptos. There’s so many different use cases, types, networks, there’s so many factors to consider. So we’ve developed a 10 point framework. We call it our core rating framework. And in that framework, we cover everything from the founding team of the project, to the governance model of the project, to the token economics. We even get into regulatory concerns, potential regulatory concerns around the project. So a 10 point framework that every single crypto asset that we take a look at at cryptoeq.io, you can trust that it’s ran through that framework, so that you have some kind of standard. It’s kind of North Star to help guide you as you’re learning about this asset class.
Simon Erickson 3:43
Can you walk me through what differentiates cryptocurrencies from one another? I mean, there are 1000s of cryptocurrencies that are tradable out there. Just like there are 1000s of stocks that are tradable out there. We look at fundamentals, where we’re comparing things like price to earnings or price to sales, but it’s a whole different ballgame and cryptocurrencies, right? These are not all interchangeable with one another.
Spencer Randall 4:09
Yeah, although some of the principles that you would use in equity investing. You really do need a new playbook when you start thinking about cryptocurrencies. And so we’ve written that playbook and you ask what kind of differentiates the value? We literally consider hundreds of factors when we do these core ratings in this 10 point framework. But I would say one final thing that’s different. When you talk about Bitcoin, you talk about Ethereum. These are distinct, separate networks, completely separate communities of developers. And when you think about just one blockchain like Bitcoin, or another blockchain like Ethereum, is a little bit different than in equities where you have your tickers and you have your brokers. These are entirely different infrastructures right? Bitcoin – its strongest narrative right now is digital gold. Ethereum could potentially be the evolution of the internet. So when we think about each infrastructure, that is Bitcoin or Ethereum or other crypto assets, there needs to be a lot of nuance, you need to consider the use case. Ethereum and Bitcoin are very different missions. Although, for the average trader and investor, they’re the blue chips of crypto. And so as you get more into the weeds, you have to consider the use case and all the nuance around each crypto asset.
Simon Erickson 5:34
That’s a great thing to keep in mind that these are platforms, networks, currencies that are being built upon. They’re not just short term trading, you know, people shouldn’t be thinking about this in isolation of what’s the price of bitcoin. Should be thinking more in terms of what is Bitcoin enabling out there for people or for companies to do?
Spencer Randall 5:55
Agreed. A good analog would be Tesla. So for equity investors thinking about Tesla, if you write Tesla off as simply a car company, you’re probably missing the big picture of Tesla as much, I would argue Tesla is as much an energy company as it is a car company. And if you look at if you’re just learning about Bitcoin are really opening your eyes to Bitcoin and Ethereum. If you’re kind of on zero as your first step, I encourage you to think about the infrastructure and communities developed around these crypto assets. And how categories shifting and redefining they really can be, right? Tesla is so much more than cars, right? It could potentially change energy consumption in a global scale. So when you think about Bitcoin, you think about the possibilities or theory and the possibilities. These are disruptive technologies. And it’s very encouraging people to take a deeper look. Look past the price action. Let’s start thinking about the fundamentals of these crypto assets.
Simon Erickson 7:00
So let’s look at both of those for our podcast here today. Spence, let’s look at the price action first and then longer term, what’s taking shape from these? But I’ve got to ask you, I mean, we’ve seen the price of bitcoin just soaring these last 12 months. It’s up 300%, and is now pushing, I believe, $40,000 per Bitcoin, depending on the day that you check that. Is this a short term bubble? As I’ve seen it referred to out there, or are there fundamental drivers that are unappreciated by people that are looking at this maybe a little too short term?
Spencer Randall 7:34
Yeah. It’s another great question. We’ve gotten that one a lot. Is this a bubble? No, I would say it’s not a bubble. One of the things I like to invoke here is the stock to flow model. This is a fundamental model that’s used to evaluate the price of things like gold, silver, and platinum, so other commodities. So when you think about Bitcoin, specifically in its stock to flow model, we’re looking at the issuance of new Bitcoin through Bitcoin mining, and we’re looking at the stock or the total available supply of Bitcoin on the market. And so you when you when you chart that against price, right, we would actually a $40,000, Bitcoin be ahead of schedule. And so this pullback that we had kept us right on track stock and flow model has us at about $30,000 is the fair market price of bitcoin for the month of January, bumping up to about $40,000, mid February. So you know, I think this correction that we just had about 25%, you mentioned that the volatility to the upside to, you know, 300% a year that brought us right back down to kind of the mean that we would expect for the price of Bitcoin as it is today on the stock to flow model.
Simon Erickson 8:57
And that’s a relationship in Spence between the available supply of Bitcoin that has been mined out there versus how often it is being used in the adoption that you’re seeing, is that a fair way to recap?
Spencer Randall 9:10
So you think about stock to flow is what’s available on the market today, charted against what is being issued by the network. So the unlike gold, silver and platinum, Bitcoin is issued based on an algorithm. There’s consensus, and it’s a predictable schedule. It’s like clockwork, right? So we know exactly how much Bitcoin will be issued, every single day, every single year. It’s very, it’s programmed. And so when you know those factors, those are known and you chart price, this kind of 10,000 foot view of Bitcoin fundamentals as it pertains to price, in my opinion, is the best way to think about these broader cycles.
Simon Erickson 10:02
Spence, I have to take a second to tell a story that I bought my first Bitcoin at $248. And rode it up to a price that I was able to sell it for a hot tub and a self playing piano. And I felt like a genius here at home when I did that. But I’ll tell you, man, now that I see it going even higher, I’m starting to feel less like a genius as this continues to march steadily higher. It sounds like you’ve got a long term plan and some quantitative way to track what is expected versus what you’re actually seeing out there.
Spencer Randall 10:31
There’s a lot of stories like that. So I’m in what I like to sprinkle in here with folks and they talk about new selling selling tops are excellent. If you match your principal investment with a considerable amount of your time doing research, or you match it with high quality tools, like seven investing calm, or crypto iq.io. I think that that investment of time gives you the confidence to hold through any volatility or a hold in the long term. Yeah, I think if you if I were to calculate how much time I spent researching Bitcoin, Ethereum and things like it – probably if I put a value, an hourly rate on my time, the value probably matches my holdings. I’ve been in this space for years and years. And so that’s where the strong hands I think are born, right? When you look at this 25% move down that we had recently, a lot of people that have watched several market cycles and crypto have been here through 2013, 14. This is a dampened move to the downside, right? We have folks that have witnessed 40% 50% corrections when the market was smaller. So, you know, I think as the crypto market continues to expand, and we’re looking at a potential trillion dollar asset in Bitcoin, volatility will continue to be dampened.
Simon Erickson 11:54
So knowing that there is a lot of volatility in this, how do you think about investing in cryptocurrencies if you also have other assets in stocks or elsewhere? Is it something that you take 5 or 10 percent stake you say, hey, I’m willing to put this in a more volatile higher risk investment.
Spencer Randall 12:13
To be candid, that’s how I got started. 5 to 10% of my investable assets allocated to alternative investments. At the time alternative investments for me were Bullion, and cryptocurrency. So I think 5 to 10% is a great starting point. And then as the market expands, likely you will need to rebalance as you can see rapid appreciation, especially with the cryptocurrencies. It’s still a nice hedge. If you’re if a lot of your your investable assets are real estate, in equities and bonds, which are all tightly pegged to the dollar, it behooves you to have a few hedges, Bullion, cryptocurrencies that are blue chip cryptos, things that can move weak correlations, maybe even uncorrelated to our our stocks, bonds and real estate.
Simon Erickson 13:14
Makes sense Spence and you know, as COVID starts phasing out here, and we’re able to have social gatherings again, I can’t wait to see you become the Bitcoin guy at cocktail parties as we start having those. Let’s shift gears, man. Let’s go to the enterprise piece of this too, because we mentioned kind of Tesla as a car company versus a energy company. All the other things that can become, we started to see enterprises adopting blockchains and buying Bitcoin for their own purposes. One of the most recent has been, you know, we’ve seen MicroStrategy putting it on their corporate treasuries, they’re moving things from cash to Bitcoin, and that has unlocked a lot of value for equity investors based on those decisions. How do you see the relationship between cryptocurrencies and equities? Is there a relationship between the companies who are the innovators in this and the benefits that they are appreciating from a commercial perspective?
Spencer Randall 14:11
I think the themes that are developing are new as crypto continues to prove that it’s here to stay will be more and more overlap. When you look at MicroStrategy, for example, or Square in their decision to allocate some of their cash reserves and their treasury to Bitcoin. It’s, I think it’s fundamentally the same thing we just talked about for retail investors and traders to hedge. They’re looking to protect their balance sheet, just like a retail investor in traders looking to protect their holdings, their viability, their their quality of life. So I think I think of MicroStrategy’s move squares move to allocate some of the balance sheet to Bitcoin as a means to protect their organization for the decades to come.
Simon Erickson 15:02
And then how about just kind of the the tangential effects too. I mean, we saw a bump for Nvidia and AMD when mining was super popular. Everyone was buying GPUs to mine cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Do you see anything like that that investors should be paying more attention to right now?
Spencer Randall 15:24
Graphics cards are still a part of the mining ecosystem, right? So we can see that trend come back around. They’re still proof of work chains. That’s the the term that we use in the cryptocurrency industry to say it’s a proof of work mining consensus algorithm. So graphics cards, and companies that produce graphics cards can see another wave of exuberance as people start to regain interest or expand mining operations that our graphics cards face. We could also see MicroStrategy and square be the first of many, right? How many other corporate treasuries may make that decision to allocate a considerable amount of their cash reserves to something like Bitcoin? How many different organizations will it take before we see institutions holding up to 25% of the available Bitcoin? It’s something that’s entirely possible in the years to come.
Simon Erickson 16:27
So Spence, to put a sports analogy on this since we are both from Texas. We’ve got a baseball game here, the first inning is the first time anyone’s ever heard of using cryptocurrencies for commercial applications. This is Michael Saylor’s out there being in the wild west by himself doing something no one else has even heard of. And then at the bottom of the ninth is going to be everybody is using this across corporate America. Where are we in corporate adoption of cryptocurrency and the baseball analogy?
Spencer Randall 16:56
Yeah, we touched on this a bit in the livestream. I feel like for institutions, this is like the second inning. I feel like it’s just getting started. For retail, I think that we’ve seen a lot of exuberance in retail as of late. But for institutions, they’re they’re much more methodical. They have much more complex decision making processes, right. I mean, you’ve got a board that you’ve got to talk to. MicroStrategy developed this position over six months. Saylor didn’t wake up and buy on Monday. Right? So, I think that we’ve had a lot of organizations start that six month process, and that we’ll see more and more headlines come out. Mass Mutual, for example, $100 million allocated to Bitcoin. So we’ve seen what a dozen organizations now make 1$00 million to a billion plus allocations to Bitcoin. How many more are going to follow? Right? Are we going to see our herd of institutions? It’s quite possible.
Simon Erickson 18:03
How about blockchains? Are we starting to see some of that? Maybe to step back, one of the big use cases for Ethereum has been smart contracts, right? Where you’re cutting out the middleman, when you’re working directly with customers, or you’ve gotten on a schedule where you don’t want to start giving up 300 basis points for moving money around? Are we starting to see smart contracts and Ethereum, or even just blockchains, in general, take hold at institutions that aren’t using it for a corporate treasury, like we talked about from MicroStrategy, but in the actual operations of the business itself?
Spencer Randall 18:37
Another great question Simon. With Ethereum, for example, you’re seeing Ethereum as the base layer of decentralized finance. So financial services and ecosystems that do not require a third party more so just trust in the Ethereum network. It is so popular, and it’s gained so much adoption that Ethereum’s seeing an increase in network fees. So Ethereum is working very hard. And the development teams are working very hard to help catch up with that demand. It’s kind of similar to ’17, when the use around Bitcoin was was so high that the network fees to use Bitcoin increased dramatically. And so when demand outpaces the infrastructure that’s been built, the infrastructure has to catch up. So the developer teams of Bitcoin and Ethereum respectively, are are working very hard to catch up to all of this demand and make sure that does network fees are able to consistently be lower than traditional competitors.
Simon Erickson 19:42
So that’s interesting too, Spencer. We spend a lot of time as equity investors talking about network effects, right? Facebook is attracting more users, which is attracting more advertisers. You’ve got a virtuous cycle taking shape. Is that the same with cryptocurrencies where we’re gonna see Bitcoin and Ethereum be the go to to take the lion’s share of the volume out there? Or are some of these smaller cryptocurrencies that are more specialized and flexible in what they can do? Is that going to be a larger opportunity because so much of this might be a case by case basis?
Spencer Randall 20:14
Yeah, I’d say it depends on use case. I would say that Bitcoin has closed the door on the store value use case. And it’s achieve escape velocity. You don’t see institutions talking about $100 million, upwards of a billion dollar allocations to any other crypto asset. Is that going to be the case for 10 years to come? That’s a question mark. But in the shorter term, one to three year time horizon, I think Bitcoin is the market leader in store value for digital assets. And its market share fluctuating from 60 to 70% of the entire crypto ecosystem certainly validates that, with the use case of the theorem and general smart contracts platforms. I think that there’s still an opportunity for other projects to capture some of their market share. They’re certainly the market leader, they certainly have the most network effects around their platform, a lot of educational and a lot of institutions, educational facilities for example. They already have programs built around a theory in helping educate people in solidity. So the language that you use to develop on a theorem would be deeply insurance network effects and educating people around a general smart contracts platforms in Ethereum That’s going to be more challenging to overcome, but the door certainly open in the general smart contracts. Use case and and we’re monitoring and we’ve rated a number of competitors to Ethereum, for example.
Simon Erickson 21:55
Sure, and talking about institutions, let’s talk about the investing and financial services side of this too, right? I mean, are we seeing headway with Bitcoin? Okay, so let me step back. First, we saw cracking, just apply for a bank charter. This is a cryptocurrency brokerage, it’s not one to get embedded with financial institutions. So I’m like this would be something where Bitcoin could be an option with an ETF that you could buy? Or maybe you could, rather than having a money market account in your bank account, specify you want it to be in Bitcoin, or if you’ve got an online stock brokerage is a way that you can directly buy cryptocurrencies. I mean, how are we starting to see this catch on with with investing institutions out there, Spence? Is this something that’s still years out? Are we seeing that today already?
Spencer Randall 22:37
I mean, when we think about like, go back to 2020, we’re like, what were like the top three headlines, the PayPal news was huge. So you could actually buy some of the largest kryptos through PayPal, you had the some of the thought leaders like Paul Tudor Jones, he was one of the first in traditional investing, come out and say that Bitcoin would be the fastest force. And then you had larger, the largest were largely the themes around the pandemic, accelerating virtual adoption, in all kinds of different aspects of flight out of cash into virtual currencies, made a lot more sense to people. So I think those those three things coming together, kind of developed a perfect storm for Bitcoin to be ahead of schedule, in terms of its adoption, and price action, but I think about cracking news, right, and their financial charter to become a bank. Regulatory clarity is developing, I wouldn’t say that we have it, but it’s developing and for things like stable points, we’re getting more clarity around stable coins. So I think that transacting on a ledger, you know, a cryptographic ledger, either through a stable coin, or Bitcoin and aetherium will be more increasingly easier to do through your traditional platforms that you’re accustomed to. You can buy bitcoin on PayPal, how long is it until your your bank that you personally use everyone out there decided to integrate one or more cryptocurrencies into their their system, where you could store a balance in a stable coin or Bitcoin that’s federally insured? Right? I think that we’re a few years out for a lot of the smaller banks, but for the larger banks, there’ll be the first mover right? For example, I’ve seen partnerships between USA and Coinbase. Right where Coinbase Coinbase wallets integrated into your, your online bank. Right. So how many more things are we gonna see like that where you can, you can, you can use you can integrate your crypto exchange, whether it’s cracking Coinbase Gemini into your traditional banking interface.
Simon Erickson 24:55
So a couple more final questions, some fun ones here for you Spence, you just mentioned the first one of them. Which is Coinbase. And so my first fun question is, we’ve seen Coinbase is coming public right? Wait, people are pegging this at a 25 to $30 billion valuation. A lot of people already screaming about how overvalued that might be. Are you bullish on Coinbase? going public as a stock market investment?
Spencer Randall 25:18
Yeah, I’m bullish on Coinbase. In general, anecdotally, you know, all the people that I talked to about next steps in crypto, they’re always on the Coinbase app. They’ve got deeply entrenched network effects here in the US. It is just, you know, in my experience, talking to people about crypto that are new to the space, it’s the default, it’s the go to the household name. So I think a lot of that is you could you could chalk up to their ease of use. They do have good UI UX, great UI UX. And their network effects around their platform in the US are incredible. So, yes, I’m certainly bullish on Coinbase long term.
Simon Erickson 26:06
Okay, let me continue the lightning round bullish on Coinbase. Long term. Next lightning round question for you is, does Elon Musk publicly admit to taking a stake, either personally or with Tesla as a company in Bitcoin in 2021?
Spencer Randall 26:22
Yes, I think that. Of course, I’ve never met Elon, but I followed some of his content. I’ve watched many of his interviews. I think that the Bitcoin community and Elon are in the same orbit. And they both spend a lot of time on Twitter. So I think it’s only a matter of time before Elon decides to either allocate some of their cash reserves at Tesla to Bitcoin, or integrate cryptocurrency payments into some aspect of what they do. Yeah, I’d say 2021. That would be yes.
Simon Erickson 27:01
And other than Tesla, what’s another large company blue chip stock that’s well known out there that also integrates cryptocurrencies into some aspect of what they do in 2021. Who is the innovator that’s a large company willing to take a stand on this?
Spencer Randall 27:16
I say, Square. They kind of got overshadowed by the MicroStrategy news. But they made a considerable allocation and believe their first obligation was 50 million of their corporate treasury to Bitcoin. And Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter has been a longtime crypto bull. So I would expect to see more positive developments around the Twitter platform and Bitcoin and crypto has actually been maybe integrating some payments there through Square. Maybe, maybe seeing Square and Twitter have some kind of overlapping functionality. That would make a lot of sense.
Simon Erickson 27:58
We’ve seen Minute Maid Park, we’ve seen Mercedes Benz Superdome in what year is the first Bitcoin sponsored sports arena going to pop up into the public eye?
Spencer Randall 28:11
That’s the tricky part because it’s completely decentralized network. Bitcoin is not, you’re not going to see someone that’s the CEO of Bitcoin, facilitate that partnership, right? The Bitcoin arena? I mean, I don’t know. I can’t see it. I can’t see it. You could see a MicroStrategy arena with the Bitcoin logo on it.
Simon Erickson 28:37
There we go. That would be an interesting one. And thank you for the methodical answer to my completely ridiculous questions. My final one for you is where in the world – what country does Satoshi Nakamoto actually live in?
Spencer Randall 28:50
He she or they could be anywhere in the world. It’s a brilliant, brilliant team of people that built this decentralized network that we know is Bitcoin. And they’re, you know, brilliant to have created it, but also brilliant at staying completely anonymous. So that I think that if you have the intelligence to build this thing, and you have the architecture, you’ve also know how if you want to stay anonymous, you’re likely good. That’s what they’ve done.
Simon Erickson 29:21
Well, once again, Spencer Randall is the co founder and CEO of CryptoEQ, also a partner of ours here at 7investing. We just announced yesterday the beginning of a long term partnership, I really think that that his company is doing some incredibly thorough, fantastic research. Not just for people who are interested in indirectly buying cryptocurrencies like bitcoins, but also realizing what the impacts of cryptocurrencies will have on other companies and businesses and how that will impact us as stock market investor. Spence, thanks very much for the time here with 7investing on our podcast today.
Spencer Randall 29:54
Thanks for having us on again, Simon. We look forward to continuing to work and grow with you in 2021
Simon Erickson 30:00
Thanks very much. And again, cryptoeq.io is Spencer and his team’s website. Go check them out if you want to learn more about cryptocurrencies. Thanks for tuning into our podcast here today. We are 7investing and we’re here to empower you to invest in your future.
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