Building a distributed investment firm

“So you are like…….?”

Seems to be the closed loop of questions I get most of the time. It makes complete sense, the investor the other side of the coffee mug is time poor, and options rich. I need to find a box to jump into, quickly.

I found that hard at Ivaldi, our old hedge fund. I kept wanting to shout, but we are different — the problem was, different = complicated, complicated = lots of work = no investment (quickly). So we quickly iterated towards the stock answer and then tried to slug it out with our competitors in the chosen bucket. That was a mistake.

At Upside, we are having the same challenge, you must be a trading app, or a robo advisor.

The answer is no. No we are not a trading app, no we are not a robo advisor.

But yes, you can ‘invest’ with us, and yes we will give you ‘nudges’.

Ok, “trading app”.

The challenge we face is how to explain the seismic changes that are already underway and tearing through the investment, banking and payments worlds. How they will converge and change everything we know to be the case today.

All great projects are built on the backs of giants. Our business is the same, we couldnt do what we are doing if not for the impact of Robinhood, eTorro, Wealthfront, Betterment, Nutmeg. Nor could we see where we are going without the web 3 discussions, the work specifically of Gavin Wood and the team at Polkadot. We would be lost if we hadnt seen the work Philip Telock had done in the concept of Superforecasting. The list goes on. We are a sum of those parts.

But our next step is different.

We are imagining an investment world where contributors and consumers are aligned. Where anyone and everyone can be both. And while the calculation is centralised, it learns from the community, enabling it to ‘serve’ users.

Imagine being able to walk into a coffee shop, pay for your coffee with your phone — nothing changes.

Except, behind the scenes, you’ve just made payment with an instant liquidation of a fractional portfolio of your holdings. You have bypassed needing to hold cash entirely. Frictionless, asset based transactions. Free.

Or your monthly pay cheque (why are we paid monthly, not real time??) hits, it is immediately converted into the perfect balance of your existing portfolio of holdings. Seemless, cashless, fiatless.

Every day you earn, you receive a steam of micropayments from your content. Seemless and silently created by you. Not through any special effort or action, but just by you, doing what you do.

That’s empowerment, that’s ownership, that’s control, that is distributed.

That’s Upside — and we cant fit into a box, because there isnt one. Not yet at least.

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