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风险投资的范式转移:无限主义基金和无限游戏

投行VCPE部落 | 达观天下 2022/01/20 14:00

新知达人, 风险投资的范式转移:无限主义基金和无限游戏

有限游戏可以在无限游戏中进行,但无限游戏不能在有限游戏中进行。

— 詹姆斯·卡斯

风险投资是创新、技术和人类进步的驱动力之一。它通过组织人力、科学、技术和政治资源来帮助创新者实现伟大的目标。

过去几十年,尽管风险资本在支持企业和创业方面取得了成功,但风险资本已经显示出其弱点。从表面上看,这种局限性表现在两方面:GP和LP之间的目标冲突;创始人和投资者之间缺乏一致性。在股票市场,大多数GP都受到基金周期(Fund Cycle)有限年限(例如10年)的限制。在加密货币市场,大量GP的资金周期要短得多(由于上市门槛低和市场波动性低,甚至有时短至1年或2年),许多基金经理被迫迅速抛售头寸。这种现象导致一些基金经理被批评为“弱手(Weak Hands)”或“翻转/迅速换手投资者(Flippers)”。

在股票市场上,首次公开募股 (IPO) 通常被认为是风险阶段公司的成功。很多时候,基金的主要目标是投资标的并在标的 IPO 时出售。通常,一家公司上市至少需要 5-7 年的时间。因此,基金周期代表着帮助早期公司通过 IPO 的想法。这种方法的问题在于,如果某些公司有更长期的愿景,那么该基金可能会失去与该公司合作的更大机会,以及失去从该公司 IPO 阶段之后的发展和增长中获得更高的回报。Netflix、特斯拉、苹果、谷歌等所有最伟大的公司都是如此。最近,红杉基金意识到了这个问题。因此,在一个帖子中,合伙人Roelof Botha描述了红杉基金新的管理方法,其本质上取消了 LP 对其种子和风险投资基金的访问权限。取而代之的是,红杉基金从其二级市场基金投资一级市场交易,收回对风险阶段项目的控制权以及根据需要持有风险投资的能力。

在加密市场,公司上市比股票市场的 IPO 周期要短很多。大多数情况下,加密货币项目在其早期阶段(不到 3 年,有时在构思后的几个月内)就会上市。投资者被上市炒作带来的丰厚收益所吸引。一些加密基金接受 1 年的基金周期,以便获得更多 LP。然而,类似的情况也适用于加密市场——一个成功的 Web3 风险投资需要一个以上的周期来构建,当项目取得真正意义上的成功时,回报远远高于单个炒作期。

存在以上情况,是因为有两种类型的错位所导致。首先,基金经理和基金LP之间存在分歧。通常,GP 和 LP 之间的知识差距越大,资金周期越长,难度就越大。其次,资助者和基金经理之间存在错位。在上市活动中以流动性溢价出售股票/代币的吸引力远高于花费数年时间等待项目建立价值。

鉴于不同类型的行为,风险投资游戏(The Venture Capital Game)如下:

新知达人, 风险投资的范式转移:无限主义基金和无限游戏

**在Venture Capital Game中,无限策略并不意味着该基金无限期地持有所有股票/代币,但在右边,“Flipper投资者”的快速换手策略确实意味着该基金出售所有头寸以获取利润并离开游戏寻找其他盈利机会

在这个游戏中,我们考虑了一种新的行为——无限性。无限游戏可以解释为不是为了获胜而进行游戏,而是为了继续游戏( Carse )。对于创始人来说,无限游戏是显而易见的。对于风险基金来说,无限意味着支持创始人确保游戏的无限性。

从创始人角度出发,这里有很多无限游戏的例子。想象以下的无限游戏,我们稍后会再次回来研究:发展一个城市、为去中心化系统构建区块链基础设施、使人类成为多行星物种、极客运动。

那么什么是无限主义风险资本和风险基金?

从技术上讲,我们可以根据基金周期绘制一系列风险投资——从投机、机会驱动的基金到“常青”基金。从谱图上看,无限基金则是将其基金周期扩展到无限的基金。

新知达人, 风险投资的范式转移:无限主义基金和无限游戏

然而,风险投资基金无限意味着什么?风险投资基金怎么可能是无限的?让我们进一步继续探索!

无限游戏和子游戏

无限游戏包含子游戏(Sub-game)。任何无限游戏包含的可能子游戏的数量是无限的。子游戏本身可以是无限游戏,也可以是有限游戏。这是一些无限游戏及其相应子游戏的表格:

新知达人, 风险投资的范式转移:无限主义基金和无限游戏

无限基金 — 资助无限游戏

无限基金具有无限基金周期,通过投资其子游戏来投资无限游戏。子游戏可以是有限游戏,但无限游戏才是最终目的。为了评估,比较无限基金和有限基金之间的差异,我们可以从这五个指标进行考量:目标、投资动机、退出策略、基金周期和资金来源。

新知达人, 风险投资的范式转移:无限主义基金和无限游戏

民族国家(Nation States)的国库自然是无限的资金,因为民族国家本身就是无限游戏,其(通常)旨在将国家发展成更适合人民生活的地方。在某种程度上,区块链协议就像民族国家,因为这些协议有自己的治理规则,通过代码和社区之间的共识强制执行。在前一种情况下,国库由税收维持。在后一种情况下,基金会的财富来自对其原生代币的升值和协议级别的收入。

在风险投资的情况下,想要无条件资助无限游戏的组织或人的捐赠对于建立无限基金是必要的。捐赠可以有多种来源:组织的收入(例如去中心化项目的协议费)、捐赠或代币销售活动。该基金通过将所有先前的回报重新投资到下一个子游戏中来维持自身。

新知达人, 风险投资的范式转移:无限主义基金和无限游戏

作为几个例子,DoraHacks Ventures 被设计为一个具有无限资金周期的极客基金,作为 DoraHacks 的一部分,与开源开发者资助平台HackerLink、Hackathon DAO和全球Hackathon社区协同,以支持极客运动。Binance Labs通过风险投资和每年不断举办、为期 8 周的密集孵化计划相结合,支持整个区块链行业的发展,该计划将会无限期地运行到未来。

用无限风险基金资助公共物品

目前的风险投资未能捕捉到一类有价值的风险投资——公共物品资助(Public Good Funding)。

长期以来,公共物品的价值一直被低估。因为公共物品难以盈利的特性,通常由公共部门或非营利组织建设。但是,政府资金可能受到低效率的困扰,以及腐败和政治动荡等攻击,非营利组织经常遭受资金不可持续性的困扰。传统的基于 DCF 的估值方法很难正确捕捉无利可图(在法定货币空间)但对社区有益的东西的价值。因此,在过去,风险投资几乎完全专注于盈利的业务,而将公共物品拒之门外。

DAO 正在通过以下方式改变公共物品的组织和开发方式

  1. DAO 能够组织和激励分布式的贡献者和用户网络,避免或降低中心化组织的摩擦成本和低效率。例如,去中心化的媒体可以有效地组织一个去中心化的贡献者网络。

  2. DAO 将治理权分配给参与者,包括贡献者、管理员、用户和资助者。治理权不再集中在股东之间。

  3. DAO 可以捕捉治理价值和社区驱动的价值,从长远来看,可能会创造一种合法的方式来为公共产品提供适当的估值。

    无限基金可以通过资助公共物品 DAO 来持续资助公共物品。

使用 Web3 技术建立无限基金

可以设计进一步的机制来增加无限基金的灵活性。已经有一些实用的解决方案。加入 MolochDAO 或 The LAO 的 LP 从 DAO 获得股份/Loot。如果集体基金做出错误决定,Moloch 机制允许怒退。但只要有一些成员继续游戏,DAO 就可以无限地维持下去。因此,Moloch 基金可以被认为是一类门槛不高的无限基金(加入 Moloch DAO 比加入红杉基金容易得多)。

另一种为无限基金 LP 提供流动性的方法是将基金代币化。基金代币可以根据基金的资产净值进行评估。尽管证券代币(STO)领域进展缓慢,但当几年内出现更具吸引力的代币化证券时,强大的参与者可以使之成为可能。

结论

伟大的冒险通常是无限游戏。无限游戏的目的不是赢得游戏,而是让不断永不停止。有限基金的基金周期是有限的。无限基金具有无限基金周期。一个无限游戏包含无限多个子游戏,子游戏可以是无限游戏,也可以是有限游戏。有限基金投资于预期获胜的游戏,因为它们是有利可图的。无限基金通过投资其子游戏来投资无限游戏。无限基金的目的是资助无限游戏,以便游戏继续进行并实现其目标。只要是无限游戏,无限基金就可以为公共物品和企业提供资金。存在几种方法可以使用 Web3 技术建立和改进无限资金。风险资本的范式正在向无限主义转移。

Reference (原文部分链接)

The Sequoia Fund. https://medium.com/sequoia-capital/the-sequoia-fund-patient-capital-for-building-enduring-companies-9ed7bcd6c7da

Vitalik Buterin: Ethereum 2.0.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW0QZmtbjvs&t=935s

First Review of DAOrayaki — Pioneering Decentralized Media

https://dorafactory.medium.com/first-review-of-daorayaki-pioneering-decentralized-media-8adda4c425b3

Binance Labs ready to kick off season three of pioneering incubator program.

https://www.cityam.com/binance-labs-ready-to-kick-off-season-three-of-pioneering-incubator-program

DoraHacks. https://hackerlink.io

DAOrayaki |通过分配代币价格的“治理溢价”衡量治理权力

OlympusDAO: Examining How Community Drives Value

https://daopulse.xyz/olympusdao-examining-how-community-drives-value-b75801868d21

MolochDAO. https://www.molochdao.com

The LAO. https://www.thelao.io

本文翻译自 https://doraresear.ch/2021/12/02/infinite-funds 。如若转载请注明出处。

The Inevitable Paradigm Shift of Venture Capitalism: Infinite Funds and Infinite Games

2 Dec 2021

Eric Zhang @ DoraHacks

Special thanks to Steve Ngok, Unica Yin, Wendy Ding for review and feedback.

Finite games can be played within an infinite game, but an infinite game cannot be played within a finite game. — James Carse

Venture capital is one of the driving forces of innovation, technology, and human progress. It helps innovators achieve great goals by organizing human, scientific, technological, and political resources.

Despite venture capitalism’s success in supporting businesses and entrepreneurship over the past decades, venture capital has shown its weakness. On the surface, the limitations come from the conflicting goals between the GPs and LPs, as well as the lack of alignment between founders and investors. In the equity market, most GPs are constrained by the finite years of the fund cycle (e.g., 10 years). In the crypto market, a large number of GPs suffer from much shorter fund cycles (sometimes as short as 1 or 2 years due to low listing barriers and market volatilities), and many fund managers are forced to dump their positions quickly. This phenomenon has led some fund managers to be criticized as “weak hands” or “flippers”.

In the equity market, an Initial Public Offering (IPO) is often considered a success of a venture-stage company. Most of the time, a fund’s primary goal is to invest in companies and sell at its IPO. Usually, it takes at least 5–7 years for a company to go public. Therefore, fund cycles are set to reflect this idea of helping an early-stage company through to its IPO. The problem of this approach is that if some company has a longer-term vision, then the fund could lose a bigger opportunity to be with the company and gain a much higher return from its post-IPO development and growth. This has been true for all of the greatest companies such as Netflix, Tesla, Apple, Google, and more. Recently, the Sequoia Fund recognized this problem. As a result, it’s canceling LP access to its seed and venture capital funds as described in a post. Instead, the Sequoia Fund invests in primary market deals from its secondary market fund, taking back control of venture-stage projects and the ability to hold their venture investments for as long as they want.

In the crypto market, a listing happens much faster than an IPO in the equity market. Most of the time, a cryptocurrency project goes public in its early stage (less than 3 years, sometimes within a few months after being conceived). Investors are lured to the juicy gains from listing hypes. Some crypto funds accept a 1-year fund cycle in order to get more LPs on board. However, a similar situation applies in the crypto market too — a successful Web3 venture takes more than one cycle to build, and when a project really succeeds, the return is far higher than a single hype period.

There are two types of misalignments. First, there is a misalignment between fund managers and fund LPs. Usually, the larger the knowledge gap between the GP and the LP, the more difficult a long fund cycle could become. Second, there is a misalignment between funders and fund managers. It’s always attractive to sell shares/tokens at listing events with a liquidity premium rather than wait for years before the project’s true value is built.

Given the different types of behaviors, the venture capital game is like the following.

Being infinite doesn’t mean that the fund holds ALL shares/tokens indefinitely, but being a flipper does mean that the fund sells all positions for profit and leaves the game for other profitable opportunities.

In the game, we consider a new kind of behavior — infinitism. Infinite games can be explained as games that are played not for winning, but for continuing the play ( Carse ). For founders, being infinite means playing an infinite game. For venture capital, being infinite means supporting founders to continue the infinite game.

There are many examples of infinite games from the founders’ side. Think about the following infinite games which we will come back again to examine later: develop a city, build a blockchain infrastructure for decentralized systems, make human-being a multi-planetary species, and the hacker movement.

How about infinitism of venture capital?

Technically, we can draw a spectrum of venture capital based on the fund cycle — from speculative, opportunity-driven funds to “evergreen” funds. From the spectrum, an infinite fund is simply a fund that extends its fund cycle to infinity.

However, what does it mean for a venture capital fund to be infinite? How can a venture capital fund be infinite? Let’s explore a bit more!

Infinite Games and Sub-games

An infinite game contains sub-games. The number of possible sub-game of any infinite game is infinite. A sub-game itself can be either an infinite game or a finite game. Here is a table of some infinite games and their corresponding sub-games:

Infinite Funds — Funding Infinite Games

An infinite fund has an infinite fund cycle and invests in an infinite game by investing its sub-games. The sub-games can be finite games, but the infinite game is the purpose. To evaluate and compare the differences between an infinite fund and a finite fund, we can look at five metrics: the goals, investment motivations, exit strategies, fund cycles, and funding sources.

Nation-state treasuries are naturally infinite funds, because nation states are infinite games themselves, which (normally) aim to develop the nations into better-living places. To some extent, blockchain protocols are like nation states in that these protocols have their own governance rules enforced by code and the consensus among their communities. In the former case, the treasury is sustained by taxation. In the latter case, the foundation’s wealth comes from appreciation of their native-tokens and protocol-level income.

In the case of venture capital, endowment from organizations or people who want to unconditionally fund an infinite game is necessary to build an infinite fund. An endowment can come from multiple sources: the revenue of an organization (e.g. protocol fee of a decentralized project), donation, or token sale events. The fund sustains itself through re-investing all previous returns into the next sub-games.

DoraHacks Ventures is designed as a hacker fund with an infinite fund cycle as part of DoraHacks to support the Hacker Movement. Binance Labs is supporting the development of the whole blockchain space with a combination of venture capital and a 8-week intensive Incubation Program, which is supposed to run indefinitely into the future.

Funding Public Goods with Infinite Funds

There is a class of valuable ventures that current venture capitals fail to capture — public good funding.

The value of public goods has been underestimated for a long time. Previously, public goods were developed by public authorities or non-profit organizations because public goods were recognized as efforts that could not profit. However, government funding is often inefficient and subject to attacks like corruption and political disruptions, and non-profit organizations often suffer from non-sustainability of funding. It is difficult for traditional DCF-based valuation methods to properly capture the value of something that is not profitable (in the fiat space) but good for the community. Therefore, in the past, venture capitals almost focused entirely on profitable businesses, leaving public goods in the dust.

DAOs are changing how public goods are organized and developed in the following ways:

  1. A DAO is able to organize and incentivize a decentralized network of contributors and users, avoiding friction costs and inefficiencies of centralized organizations. For example, a decentralized media can organize a decentralized network of contributors effectively.

  2. DAOs are able to distribute governance rights to their participants, including contributors, administrators, users, and funders. Governance rights are no longer concentrated among shareholders.

  3. DAOs discover governance value and community-driven value, potentially creating a legitimate way to give public goods proper valuations in the long-run.

Infinite funds can continuously fund public goods by funding public good DAOs.

Build Infinite Funds with Web3 Technology

Further mechanisms can be designed to add flexibilities of an infinite fund. There are already some practical solutions. LPs who join MolochDAO or The LAO get shares/loots from the DAOs. The Moloch mechanism allows rage quit if the collective fund is making bad decisions. However, the DAO itself is infinitely sustained if at least some of its members stay. Therefore, the Moloch funds can be considered as a class of infinite funds that do not have high entry barriers (it’s much easier to join a Moloch DAO than join the Sequoia Fund).

Another way to provide liquidity for infinite fund LPs is to tokenize the fund. Fund tokens can be evaluated based on the net asset value of the fund. Although the security token space is progressing slowly, strong players could make it possible when more attractive tokenized securities are available within several years.

Conclusion

Great ventures are infinite games. The purpose of infinite games is not to win, but to continue the play. A finite fund has a finite fund cycle. An infinite fund has an infinite fund cycle. An infinite game contains an infinite number of sub-games, which can be infinite or finite games. A finite fund invests in winning games because they are profitable. An infinite fund invests in an infinite game by investing its sub-games. The purpose of an infinite fund is to fund an infinite game so that the game continues its play and achieves its goal. Infinite funds can fund public goods as well as businesses, as long as they are infinite games. There are several ways to build and improve infinite funds with Web3 technologies. The paradigm of venture capitalism is shifting to infinitism.

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