Institutions and web3: Where do we go from here?
Rumi Morales, Head of Venture and Growth, DCG
Hylton Irons, Investor, Listen Ventures
Rumi Morales is a global investor, executive, and entrepreneur bridging traditional institutions and emerging technologies. She is Head of Venture and Growth Investments at Digital Currency Group, guiding its portfolio of over 200 companies and 45 funds across 35 countries. Before joining DCG, Rumi was a partner and board member of Outlier Ventures and head of venture investing at the CME Group. Rumi is a Board Member of several non-profit institutions including the Girl Scouts of the USA, the Negaunee Music Institute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Chamber of Digital Commerce.
Hylton Irons is an investor at Listen Ventures, focused on supporting brand-obsessed founders leading early-stage consumer companies. After graduating from Brown University, Hylton spent time at Goldman Sachs as an Investment Banking analyst in the Healthcare group. Since then, Hylton has been focused on helping support the growth of Listen through meeting founders and building within the Chicago tech community. Hylton was featured in Chicago Inno’s 25 under 25 list in 2021 and was a member of Forbes’ 30 under 30 Scholar issue in 2019, recognizing his hard work and leadership.
The participants talked about the pace of institutional adoption in Web3, the mindset institutions should have when entering Web3, the types of institutions currently entering Web3, and what the future of institutional adoption holds.
The state of institutional adoption today
Rumi acknowledged the earliness of our current standing in the road to large scale institutional Web3 adoption and mentioned that consumer brands have been some of the largest driving forces in institutional adoption of digital assets.
“When I got into this in 2016 I had assumed that most major banks would be using bitcoin….
Gaming, brands, NFT, Media has plowed into NFTs way faster than any Goldman Sachs type of institution”
There are definitely different approaches to how institutions have been getting involved in the space. Some go all in, and some are studying it and keeping updated on this technology without going in head first immediately. Rumi echoed the importance of creating the habit of continuing educational efforts regardless of the market state, and not using bear markets as opportunistic times to ignore fundamental innovations in this space, given its potential to revolutionize so many existing business models.
Challenges in Institutional Adoption
“Where I found [institutional adoption] the hardest has been around the inflexibility of many traditional institutions who have frozen mindsets around blockchain technology. I know just how hard it is to be flexible when you are a large bureaucratic institution.”
This is the innovator’s dilemma at work. Legacy institutions are getting into the space at a much slower pace than exciting new companies seeking to onboard the next billion users into the industry.
Building real value add for the mainstream is a core value of ours at Decasonic, and we couldn’t agree more with Rumi.
The depth and intensity of market cycles have also proven to be a difficult challenge for institutions to come. Rumi argues that because the previous crashes have been so profound, many legacy institutions were hesitant to dip their toes, as they couldn’t accurately assess the risk the industry would disappear for a significant period of time.
Rumi acknowledged that personally, having the will to not get too absorbed into the rampant short term money-making opportunity helps maintain the eye on the ball: building the next generation of use cases that will onboard the next billion users in blockchain.
To be an innovator requires a type of optimism and conviction that may not be equally shared by other institutions. At Decasonic, we utilize our conviction to strategically position ourselves during bear markets and continue building for the long term.