A closer look at the cFund

First announced at last year’s Shelley summit, the cFund is an early-stage investment fund focused on innovative companies primarily utilizing the Cardano blockchain and its technology.

28 July 2021 Fernando Sanchez 5 mins read

A closer look at the cFund

As we move closer to smart contracts on Cardano, fund activity is now accelerating. We spoke with David Roebuck, Principal at Wave Financial, to find out more about the fund and its goals.

What is the cFund?

The cFund is a crypto-native hedge fund managed by Wave Financial in partnership with IOG. The fund employs an early-stage venture strategy and invests in innovative technology companies developing applications, businesses, and products being deployed on Cardano and in other R&D projects IOG is working on.

And why the name cFund?

The “c” in the name is a reference to the mathematical term “coefficient” which refers to the multiplier of a variable. Leveraging both IOG’s and Wave Financial’s domain expertise and industry connections, cFund is positioned to create a multiplier effect for its portfolio companies in terms of growth and reach.

What was the rationale for the introduction of the cFund?

IOG is focused on accomplishing two objectives. One is enabling developers to build scalable, interoperable, and sustainable blockchain-based solutions. The other is to foster financial inclusion to the underserved populations of the world. Ultimately, IOG aims to create a new financial infrastructure for emerging economies by cultivating a community of DApps and protocols deployed on Cardano and other blockchains.

To help IOG achieve this vision, it partnered with Wave Financial, a digital asset manager with ~$500 million in assets under management across various different strategies and products, to create cFund.

How does the cFund fit in with the whole ecosystem (Cardano, Project Catalyst, etc)?

While the cFund, IOG, and the Cardano Foundation all operate independently, they look for opportunities to collaborate. cFund in particular evaluates and provides strategic advice to its portfolio companies wishing to deploy on the Cardano blockchain.

Tell us more about the investment approach

cFund is funded by third-party, high-net worth individuals, family offices, and institutional investors (including IOG). cFund looks to invest in, and partner with, leading early-stage projects and businesses that primarily have a focus on the Cardano ecosystem and associated technology. The fund is already actively deploying capital and creating partnerships across the Cardano ecosystem.

When analyzing investment opportunities, cFund takes a disciplined approach that considers a multitude of factors when evaluating an opportunity. Firstly, the fund evaluates whether there is a clear need in the market for the offering a company provides and determines if other competitors can out-execute. In venture, we call this timing the market. Next, the fund evaluates the background of the team to determine if the founders have the knowledge, skills, resources, and ability to scale their company or project. The fund also considers possible exit scenarios.

Since one of cFund’s primary objectives is to help Cardano build alliances across the blockchain space, one of the most important factors cFund considers during its due diligence process is whether or not the company can be a value-add to the Cardano ecosystem.

One market that cFund has been deploying capital into is Decentralized Finance (DeFi), or more broadly, what is called Open Finance. cFund’s first investment in this market was COTI, a decentralized and scalable payments network for the global e-commerce market. COTI is a value-add because it plans to provide a bridge for DeFi applications wishing to deploy on the Cardano blockchain. The company is now developing ADA Pay, a gateway solution that enables merchants to accept payments in ada (the native protocol token for Cardano) with near-instant settlement. The company is also developing a stablecoin that will run on Cardano.

Another DeFI investment in the portfolio is Blockswap, which is an automated liquidity protocol for proof of stake chains that allows users to re-stake their staked assets. Blockswap brings liquidity for staking activities, providing DeFi benefits to the network. Users will be able to re-stake their fully staked assets, earning yield without the use of a synthetic asset.

cFund’s most recent investment in this space is Occam.Fi, a suite of DeFi solutions tailored for Cardano. The company’s first product is a decentralized funding platform. Through this launchpad, the next generation of disruptive DeFi applications will be able to raise capital using the Cardano blockchain. Overall, DeFi is one of a number of markets cFund invests in, but ideally the portfolio companies must have the capability of building on the Cardano ecosystem in some capacity.

Aside from investment, what else do you offer?

cFund is both a capital provider, an advisor, and a partner to its portfolio companies and the broader Cardano ecosystem. Leveraging IOG and Wave Financial’s resources, reputation, expertise, and network, cFund provides unparalleled access and guidance to its portfolio. cFund firmly believes in being a value-added investor. cFund aspires to be a management team's first call.

If there are businesses reading this who might want to be considered for funding, what should they do?

Prospective projects and businesses can reach out to Wave Financial’s early-stage distribution email, or directly message and/or follow me on Twitter.

What is the long-term plan for the cFund?

cFund aims to be the leading early-stage venture firm that invests primarily in Cardano blockchain based technologies besides becoming an integral part of the Cardano ecosystem. In line with IOG’s founding principle of cascading disruption, the idea that most of the structures that form global financial, governance and social systems are inherently unstable and thus minor perturbations can cause a ripple effect that fundamentally re-configures the entire system. cFund's goal is to identify and back technologies that force these perturbations together to push to a fair and transparent order for all stakeholders.

Thanks for your time, David.

Additional resources

  • cFund page
  • Wave Financial website
  • Cardano website

Wolfram and Cardano build communities with NFTs and liveminting

An inspiring look at the role of NFTs from Wolfram Blockchain Labs CEO Jon Woodard

22 July 2021 Jon Woodard 5 mins read

 Wolfram and Cardano build communities with NFTs and liveminting

As we emerge from the darkness of the pandemic, we can reconnect with our communities and re-focus on a shared vision for the future. We are at the cusp of a technological renaissance heralding new ways of forging strong connections. At Wolfram Blockchain Labs (WBL), we foresee a future where important moments can be forged, stored, and shared in real time to bring more communities together. The inspiration came from my recent trip to Bitcoin Miami 2021 where I attended the Cardano Meetup.

One of the best parts of my job as CEO of Wolfram Blockchain Labs is interacting with community members of our blockchain collaborators. When considering how the WBL ecosystem can become truly global and decentralized, I realized that decentralization is not just about changing technology. It is about changing how we interact with our communities while enabling new kinds of collaboration . 

We can now connect communities through global networks, while working independently and collectively towards a shared future. This was on full display at the Cardano Meetup in Miami. In that room, I saw Cardano supporters united by a shared belief. Communities like this will become the rule rather than the exception in the future. 

I was moved by everyone’s emphasis on building a global system to help individuals achieve financial independence for their families and communities. After witnessing the power of Cardano’s global community, I realized that this feeling of ‘togetherness’ is crystalized by non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Let me explain what I mean by this and what we’re going to do about it:

Experiencing NFTs

NFTs have sparked the global imagination in a way initial coin offerings (ICO)’s hype never did. Although the focus has largely been on speculation and cash value, the discussion has prompted the world to take a second look at decentralized systems, services, and applications. NFTs might feel like a fad, a bubble akin to tulip mania. However, at their heart, they are immutable, intractable representations of value and a unique identity.

Collectibles are a remarkable way of showing what one considers valuable while connecting the individual with their global community, the same way everyone at the Cardano Meetup was connected. This is hugely powerful. While many models currently celebrate the ephemeral and the transient, NFTs are about the timeless. When we enable communities to record and celebrate milestones like birthdays, graduations, or weddings we can draw people together around common goals and look towards a common future.

Liveminting with Wolfram Language and Cardano

Since January of 2021, WBL has been learning the nuances of Cardano and integrating the Cardano blockchain into the Wolfram Language. One of the most exciting places that we’re working with IOHK is in implementing NFT tools and auctions to bring LiveMinting.com to life, powered by Cardano. 

In an upcoming livestream event taking place on July 27th at 1:00 PM CT, Stephen Wolfram (CEO of Wolfram Research) and a panel of cultural critics will bring experiential NFTs to life in one of the world’s first ‘liveminting’ events — the process of minting (or processing) NFTs in real time on the Cardano blockchain. Liveminting will turn Wolfram’s Cellular Automata (items from the computational universe) into bespoke pieces of artwork certified into NFTs in real time. This will create a first-of-its-kind NFT.

This is only the beginning of the solutions from the work of WBL and IOHK. WBL will soon introduce the MintNFT function into the Wolfram Language, which uses the Cardano blockchain integration. You can get a more detailed explanation of the exciting work we have done in Wolfram Language by reading my Wolfram blog post.

NFT analytics, communities, creators, and brands

We believe that NFT makers and marketplaces will begin to thrive once they become generally accessible and understood. So, we are working on formalizing specific indicators and functions that will highlight analytics such as NFT performance and sales within a specific community. These analytics will not only give insight into the popularity of an NFT type, but also show how different types of NFTs can serve to draw community members together through shared experiences.

We see a future where creators of all types will be able to hold captivating liveminting events to highlight amazing experiences for their communities. Meanwhile, traditional brands increase connection and bolster a sense of belonging in the communities forming around their products. All of this will be powered by the Cardano blockchain and the Wolfram Language.

An incentive for belonging

Experiential NFTs and the inherent feeling of belonging will undoubtedly spur Cardano community members to create NFT experiences for others outside Cardano. Much like we have seen with the immediate impact of NFTs on popular culture, these experiences will serve to draw more people into our community. 

I’m excited that WBL is among the first to create these new NFT experiences. I am also excited to see what happens as we democratize these NFT tools so everyone can join in the fun. We believe that this will drive a global and social connection where users have more control over their creations, which will carry over as we democratize financial services.

Introducing the Catalyst Circle

The world’s largest decentralized innovation fund continues to evolve its governance and leadership model

8 July 2021 Kriss Baird 4 mins read

Introducing the Catalyst Circle

Project Catalyst has progressed at an incredible rate, doubling in almost every dimension from fund to fund since its launch. By any metric – from numbers of votes cast, funding available, or simply participants in our innovation processes – Catalyst is emerging as an invaluable fulcrum for Cardano’s future growth. Now, at the end of Fund 4, Project Catalyst has already proven to be a powerful experiment in collaboration and decentralized innovation.

With this explosive growth come unique challenges. Project Catalyst has a growing number of commitments to increasingly diverse functional groups of people who contribute to this step-change in collective intelligence. Specifically, community advisors, funded-proposers, stake pool operators (SPOs), and toolmakers & maintainers, all of whom contribute to the success and growth of Project Catalyst, and the success of Cardano itself.

Bringing more value

This increased diversification brings additional value to Project Catalyst, since it enables the formulation of ever more ideas and proposals. Equally, it will make communication among all these groups harder. Every cohort will need their voice to be heard, and their ideas and concerns discussed at project level.

Simply put, these groups need representation and trusted leadership acting on their behalf. If such representation is lacking, or missing altogether, the impact of Project Catalyst would be greatly diminished. This is why we're introducing the Catalyst Circle.

What is the Catalyst Circle?

The Catalyst Circle is a “human sensor array” acting as the representative body for all the different groups participating in Project Catalyst. The Circle that monitors the current state and future plans regarding governance in Catalyst. It detects and discusses concerns, objections and opportunities arising within the Catalyst ecosystem. The Circle might discuss, for example, the definition of amounts allocated to challenges Fund over Fund; changes or conditions to incentive parameters; the Catalyst API, etc.

By recording meetings and capturing actions in a backlog accessible to all, this activity will provide a view into the hopes, wants, needs, and concerns of the community within Project Catalyst. The Circle is also responsible for determining its own future shape and defining the election processes for Circle v2.

The Circle exists to fulfill four key goals:

  • To facilitate communication between the different functional groups
  • To provide a heads-up when red lines are crossed within a certain group
  • To suggest improvements on plans and processes that shape Project Catalyst
  • To define the election process for Circle V2

Member duties and responsibilities

Like Project Catalyst itself, the Circle will also evolve over time. Initially, elected members will serve 3-month terms, and elections will follow to continue improving and iterating the process. For elected members, we have identified these initial duties and responsibilities.

Each member of the Circle should:

  • Represent the community that selected them
  • Exercise their own best judgement about matters that come before the Circle
  • Familiarise other members with the projects, activities, aims, hopes, and concerns of their communities
  • Periodically take the opportunity to introduce policy proposals into the Circle’s agenda for consideration
  • Inform their communities about initiatives of the Circle

Each member also has the responsibility to:

  • Regularly attend meetings every two weeks
  • Maintain an agile backlog list to track issues between meetings
  • Review and comment on agenda issues ahead of time
  • Maintain awareness of the interests and concerns of their community
  • Disseminate the Circle’s outputs transparently and accessibly
  • Learn and practice effective meeting procedures
  • Produce an election protocol document for the next elections
  • Attend training sessions focused on inclusive and lean startup leadership techniques
  • Provide feedback on the effectiveness of the Circle

Leading and adapting

We have just held the first election for Catalyst Circle members in both Western & Eastern hemispheres, to include community members who couldn’t attend the regular weekly Town Hall. Members will be able to set each meeting’s agenda and periodically introduce policy proposals into the Catalyst Circle for consideration. The ‘minimal functional group’ is the bootstrapping version, based on consultations with leaders within the Catalyst community and Governance Alive, an expert group in the field of novel governance structures.

As trusted best practice is established, the Circle might grow and divide. Maybe the future has many ‘Circles’? Ultimately, it will be up to members to advance our goal to legitimise decentralized governance, paving the way for an alternative to the status quo, and continuing to break new ground in building the future of blockchain governance.

The Project Catalyst weekly Town Hall takes place each Wednesday at 18:00 UTC. Everyone is welcome to join. To learn more and get involved, be sure to join the Project Catalyst innovation community and its dedicated Telegram channel.

Digital lending platform Nexo integrates Cardano, enabling ada holders to borrow and earn from a diverse crypto portfolio

This latest partnership with a leading crypto company further expands the Cardano ecosystem and exposes new users to ada

30 June 2021 Eric Czuleger 3 mins read

Digital lending platform Nexo integrates Cardano, enabling ada holders to borrow and earn from a diverse crypto portfolio

Nexo kicks off a landmark collaboration with IOHK to fully integrate Cardano into its platform. This will allow ada holders to buy, borrow, lend, and sell crypto on the Nexo Exchange, while also earning up to 8 percent interest on their holdings, or accessing ada-backed credit. This partnership increases ada’s utility and enhances Cardano’s value and reach.

As we move towards the Alonzo upgrade, IOHK is establishing strategic partnerships with organizations like Orion and Nervos to expand the Cardano ecosystem. Now, we’re adding Nexo to our growing list of collaborators. Nexo is a leading institution for building value in the decentralized finance (DeFi) space. The Cardano integration comes from increasing demand from both Nexo clients and ada holders. Adding Cardano to Nexo’s Earn on Crypto & Fiat Suite and Instant Crypto Credit Lines™ brings their total serviceable assets to 20.

This is only the second time that Nexo has brought an asset on board via their new integrations system. The goal is to cater to client needs while fulfilling demand for exposure to cryptocurrencies. Increased interest in blockchain technology led Nexo to work closely with projects like Cardano, while making it easy for everyone to invest in both digital and traditional assets.

Antoni Trenchev, co-founder and Managing Partner of Nexo, says:

Blockchain organizations like Nexo and Cardano have a lot of potential to give each other a serious leg-up in digital finance and it thrills me to see that happening. Nexo’s business creates added utility for ada, reducing selling pressure, boosting its value, and creating an influx of users, including people who might just be starting out in crypto. Reciprocally, Cardano broadens our total addressable market and expands existing clients’ options when investing funds via our platform.

This falls in line with the vision of IOHK’s Chief Technical Officer, Romain Pellerin, who views interoperability as essential to mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. He says:

Bringing Nexo into our growing ecosystem will give the Cardano community even more options and utility for ada. Working together with Nexo to make this process user-friendly for those who are new to crypto will only encourage wider adoption, and Nexo’s unique offering is a clear match for IOHK.

Nexo is a leading regulated digital asset enterprise with a mission to maximize the value and utility of cryptocurrencies. They provide instant exchange, trading, over-the-counter capabilities, and a spectrum of other services backed by custodial insurance and the military-grade security of the Nexo Wallet. Learn more about Nexo at their official website.

Orion to bring one-stop crypto marketplace to Cardano

The new collab aims to make mainstream buying and selling digital assets as easy as traditional finance

23 June 2021 Eric Czuleger 3 mins read

Orion to bring one-stop crypto marketplace to Cardano

While blockchain industry growth continues to make headlines and cryptocurrencies have become a lightning rod for new investors, the road to true mainstream adoption continues. Market fluctuations, conflicting media narrative and a lack of understanding are partially to blame but one important hurdle has stopped many would-be crypto investors; digital assets are simply hard to buy.

Orion Protocol aims to be the first decentralized gateway to the whole digital asset market which aggregates liquidity across both decentralized and centralized exchanges as well as swap platforms. The ultimate goal is to create a one-stop-shop for buying and selling on the blockchain, pushing crypto towards mainstream adoption by providing a single, non-custodial point of access for crypto traders on all major exchanges. Furthermore, it is exploring a future where digital assets like NFTs can be accessed as easily as the traditional financial market. Ultimately, Orion seeks to bring together all markets for all investors. Once fully operational, accessing NFTs and cryptocurrencies will be as easy as buying stocks and commodities. 

Orion CMO, Timothea Horwell, joins us on this month’s Cardano360 show to share the company’s plans to integrate Cardano into their trading terminal. This terminal pioneers a way for all people to access major crypto exchanges without the difficulty of extensive know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money-laundering (AML) checks. On top of making it easier to onboard new investors, Orion’s trading terminal also makes certain that investors are getting the best price across exchanges.

Later this year, Cardano users will be able to access Orion’s decentralized gateway to buy and sell assets on the wider crypto market. In the longer term, Orion is working to include both traditional financial and NFT marketplaces on its platform. Throughout this year NFTs have risen considerably in terms of value, adoption, and public understanding due to landmark digital art sales like Beeple’s ‘Everydays’ which fetched $69 million at auction. Ultimately, the need for a robust and scalable blockchain which can incorporate a rapidly advancing marketplace while incorporating traditional investors led Orion to IOHK and Cardano.

‘Scalability is of critical importance to Orion in order to achieve widespread adoption,” said Horwell.’ To become the single point of access to the digital asset market, we need a robust, scalable infrastructure that can effectively and efficiently handle the transactions that occur on such a platform.”

Orion’s one-stop-shop will debut in the near future. Meanwhile, you can learn more about them on their official website or hear more on our monthly update. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and join us tomorrow for the next installment of Cardano360.