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One of the most challenging puzzles of crypto is deciding whether to take seriously.
The DeFi Alliance, a decentralised finance startup incubator and accelerator, announced 11 new participants on Friday. Some names stood out, such as oracle provider Chainlink and venture capital stalwart Blockchain Capital, but one stood out in particular: eGirl Capital, the social media menace and upstart venture capital outfit influenced by a horned-up Internet subculture.
On Friday, the DeFi Alliance — a decentralized finance startup incubator and accelerator — announced a list of 11 new members. Some were predictable, such as oracle provider Chainlink and VC stalwart Blockchain Capital, but one name stood out in particular: eGirl Capital, the social media menace and upstart venture capital outfit inspired by a horned-up Internet subculture.
The announcement prompted an industry-wide heavy sigh and rubbing of the eyes:
— Qiao Wang (@QwQiao) March 26, 2021
Members of eGirl, such as Degen Spartan, are known for their astute study of crypto’s notoriously dynamic markets as they are for sharing nothing but animated porn for weeks on end. One user — probably one of the best and brightest on cryptoTwitter — adopts the Internet persona of Ditto, a Pokemon that has turned into a sofa in order for people to unwittingly rest on it. The constellation of memetic touchstones animating these different comic pieces is far too intricate to summarise and is most certainly deserving of anthropological enquiry.
Though it’s easy to ignore the party as a joke gone too far (by that measure, the t-rex in Jurassic Park is a pet that got loose), eGirl has recently been listed in several high-profile press releases. The group also reported investments in Radicle and Unisocks, as well as a $4.9 million financing round for the decentralised finance protocol Alchemix. The first episode of an in-house podcast series will be released next week.
In terms of finance, this reporter caught a glimpse of a number in a question-and-answer paper prior to a committee decision to delete it and make no comment in order to look more “mysterious”; if correct, it was staggeringly high.
Their arrival on the investing scene coincides with a period of crypto professionalisation and institutional acceptance. Hedge funds, which previously ignored cryptocurrencies as a hoax, are now establishing trading desks. Retirement funds are allocating capital to digital currencies because the investments are being too dull.
eGirl, on the other hand, has made it known that they are ready (and even eager) to launch a glitter bomb into the middle of the increasingly buttoned-up affair. As Pet3rpan, a DAO and group development expert, put it:
“egirl/eboy aesthetic is a big fuck you to traditional ideals of culture of the last 10 years, we dont care that we aren’t cool.”
Anon currency, anon VCs, anon projects
Aside from income, conventional venture capital firms have differing degrees of utility to a project. Delphi Digital, for example, will directly contribute to the architecting and engineering of a protocol’s tokenomics and contracts. Many bring public relations experience which will generate a lot of attention.
So, why does anybody work for an organisation dominated by anons? Similarly, what do the anons believe they can add to the table?
“Crypto was started by an anonymous founder with strong pseudonymity built into the heart of the bitcoin protocol and all those who followed it. Bitcoin is stronger for it too,” they said. “[…] While egirl has invested in a wide range of anon and non-anon projects, anon funds funding anon teams can reverse this trend and bring back the privacy preserving qualities we all value deep down in our heart of hearts.”
Scoopy Trooples, an eGirl founder who is also a key team member for eGirl portfolio protocol Alchemix, noted that eGirl’s role was crucial in helping to stimulate ideas and refine the broader vision. They also praised eGirl for bootstrapping liquidity, cultivating insider ties, and supporting the project in a Tweet:
It’s the one month anniversary of @AlchemixFi And what a month it has been. We have ~800m TVL, ~200m supply of alUSD with a strong liquid peg, and over 200m DAI locked in our contracts. We are blown away and have a lot of people to thank that helped us get here.
— scoopy trooples (@scupytrooples) March 27, 2021
These benefits are derived in part from the wide range of backgrounds the various eGirls represent, and in part from the familiarity all members have with the ecosystem.
“eGirl is committed to supporting decentralized primitives for dapps and DeFi. We’re frequent users and contributors so we know first-hand what brings value to users and the community. Also, memes and anime.”
In certain cases, their emergence seems to be unavoidable: if conventional VCs are overwhelmingly happy engaging in anon teams and DAOs, then shouldn’t the VCs finally go anon?
“eGirl capital is merely the resultant product of a world where traditional limits and restrictions are finally being broken through,” said Twitter trader and personality loomdart. “We are reverting to a system with less hand rails, and while this may seem scary it lets true talent stand out, unhindered by historical ties.”
He quickly followed this quotation with a message complaining that it sounded so much like a “battle cry from the War of the Roses.” However, it was clear that he meant it.
Though eGirl is the most well-known case of an all-anonymous crypto VC, it will not be the last. Given their age, the group gave some guidance to enterprising frog avatars interested in forming their own investment organisations, such as keeping each other accountable with precisely identified positions and taking the time to create advanced, high-conviction investment theses.
“The nature of an anon decentralized collective is naturally to be very adhoc about things. While this may work in the early days, establishing norms and organizational structure to the collective will help the group to coordinate and persist,” they said.
.@egirl_capital will become the Berkshire Hathaway of our generation
this is an unrivalled investor dream team, books will be written, movies will be made pic.twitter.com/RiYYsuiecW
— John Dummett (@zoomerjd) March 21, 2021
The irony, of course, is that eGirl itself is clearly ad hoc. When this writer asked whether it was permissible to refer to a member as a “partner at eGirl Capital,” the issue prompted a brief whirlwind of controversy over if the term “partner” has ethical connotations and whether it implies a formal hierarchy. Different members also gave inconsistent answers about whether the party is a VC in the conventional sense:
“eGirl isn’t a VC, we’re simps. We’re a grassroots group of contributors that support projects with strong teams and visions. eGirl includes engineers, business leaders, product managers, meme creators, technical analysts and investors,” they said.
So, what happens when the party actually agrees to what it is? When the joke goes as far as it may, propelling the eGirls into the same exalted echelons of popularity as the Alamedas and Delphis of the planet — both in spite of or because of the manga, secrecy, and poor puns?
They offered a simple vision:
“First she is an eGirl, then she becomes an eWoman and later an eQueen.”