Rumi Morales, the former head of CME Ventures, is now a partner at the London-based blockchain investment company Outlier Ventures. She and Jamie Burke, the CEO of Outlier, announced the news and spoke about the company’s plans Wednesday to a packed room at the Connectory in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. Morales will head up Outlier Ventures’ Chicago branch, which the company expects to be a launch pad for expansion into the rest of the U.S.
She and Burke said they are looking 3-5 years ahead of what’s going on in crypto and other technology right now, and are focused on the idea of a “convergence” of blockchain (or “distributed ledger technology”) with technologies such as AI, robotics and the Internet Of Things.
“It doesn’t make sense to silo these,” Morales said. “No technology exists in isolation.”
The firm is looking at providing “venture capital for the decentralized internet,” Burke said.
OV’s approach is as an early stage investor in open, tokenized digital economies, which are still a very nascent market, he added.
Why is investing in digital tokens a good idea? Tokens are a digitally scarce asset, Burke said. Up until their advent, there was no such thing as digital scarcity on the web. The web “broke copyrighting,” – everyone with access to the internet has access to a seemingly limitless amount of information, regardless of whose intellectual property it is.
But with digital tokens, there is now a unit of value that can incentivize early adopters of this technology…”I can invest in a future system in which I take a stake and can be remunerated,” Burke said. Morales and Burke envision a future in which you can be paid for such “intellectual property” as pictures you put up on something like a Facebook or the searches you make on an engine like Google.
“This is an opportunity to correct some of the failings of the web,” Burke said.
Ocean Protocol, IOTA, and Sovrin are a few of the early stage tech companies OV is investing in. Its partners include Bitfinex, Hyperledger, BitFury, Ford, BMW, Samsung and Virgin.
Morales, who mentioned that she is not originally from Chicago, is a big booster of Chicago as an ideal city for digital innovation.
“We have the foundation [here] for the transition to the next level,” she said.