Jackson Laskey is a piano-playing, poker-playing New Yorker who cofounded Unbounded Capital, a venture capital and hedge fund that invests in Bitcoin SV.
All three of his areas of expertise contribute to each other. Winning at poker has provided the income he needs to live in New York and be a jazz pianist—which doesn’t pay well. And being able to size up his opponents round the card table has contributed to his venture capital work. “Certainly developing a good poker face has been a useful skill in dealing with entrepreneurs,” he admits.
Before moving his VC fund to BSV exclusively, his instincts about people were useful: “Getting bad feelings from a lot of entrepreneurs we were dealing with I think saved us a lot of money.”
Now in the BSV world, he says that kind of intuition “hasn’t been a skill I’ve needed as much.” He sees BSV as associated with “a tendency towards honesty.” But it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme: “People say Bitcoin SV is an intelligence test. I think that’s true. But I also think it’s a values test because you’re not signing up for an easy way to make money.”
There’s another way that poker has helped his business life: it provides a kind of controlled experiment in risk-management. Jackson’s critique of investors in the wider digital currency sector, beyond BSV, is that they’re been results-oriented when they should be process-oriented. And that’s another thing that poker can teach you:
“The pacing is fast enough to teach good lessons where in the investing world, sometimes, you can wait a decade for a bet to pan out. Yet it’s slow enough that it forces one to be extremely diligent about being process-oriented and not results-oriented. And I think identifying results-orientedness in the crypto space was a big part of how we got to the point where we’re at. It was very obvious to us as poker players that the strategies being employed couldn’t be correct.”
By creating a combined venture capital and hedge fund, Jackson believes he can mitigate some of the structural weaknesses of traditional VC funds, where there’s pressure to invest in startups as quickly as possible, whatever their quality, because the business model is all about raising money and deploying it. By adding a hedge fund where investors’ money can also be used, “we’re not pressured or incentivized to try and deploy as much as possible into businesses we’ve selected in the early stages …we always have something to do with our capital.”
VC funds are often viewed with suspicion in BSV startups, partly because they’re associated with tech giants in Silicon Valley whose model is very different. Some BSV entrepreneurs believe they are creating businesses that will generate money from day one and that VC money won’t be needed.
Jackson acknowledges many of the criticisms of the traditional VC industry but believes Unbounded Capital still has plenty to offer: “I do think there’s a really huge opportunity for businesses in this space and those businesses will need funding in some way—or at least many of them will.”
Hear the whole of Jackson Laskey’s interview in this week’s CoinGeek Conversation podcast:
There’s a transcript of the conversation here.
See the full video of the podcast here.
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