As co-founder of web3 investment company Rarestone Capital, Charles Read is very familiar with the nature of crypto’s topsy-turvy market: euphoric highs and crippling lows that regularly generate both eulogies and obituaries. But the 28-year-old is the antithesis of the wired investor who burns midnight oil while endlessly obsessed over trading candlesticks. A father of three, a quiet Englishman said the secret to success is keeping a level head and striving for balance.
“This industry is amazing, the talent at work is on another level, but you can get wrapped up if you’re not careful. Like everyone else in the space, I have an addictive/compulsive personality, and I’m often overzealous and overworked. But I make a point of decompressing. For me, the best way to do that is by traveling – it’s hard for me to think about crypto when I have music and I’m moving around the world. Exercise is also good for removing and de-stressing.”
Rarestone, which started life as an accelerator before evolving into a focused investment vehicle, has funded close to 100 projects since launching five years ago. Read started the company with Camron Miraftab, former Chief Strategy Officer at Korean blockchain startup Blocko, and most of his investments to date have been in DeFi, GameFi and NFT ventures. Read also sits on the advisory panel of several crypto startups like Caduceus, a blockchain dedicated to the development of the metaverse. But how did he get involved with crypto in the first place?
“Gaming was my first passion, so it’s great to see blockchain games and tokenised digital commodities. My involvement in the industry was clearly before all these movements.
“Before I found my way to space, I spent a lot of time in college bouncing around different subjects – medical science, art, photography, graphic design, English, sociology, psychology – but I never followed anything because I didn’t do it. I fell. in love with them. The last time I was a headhunter, a recruiter for defense and government organizations. I was pretty good but I didn’t get paid enough, in my humble opinion, “Read laughing.
Before forming Rarestone, there were also stints at the wallet company Zumo as well as consulting for blockchain venture funds and high-end investors. The Rarestone prototype in the form of Servamps then flourished during the crypto season of 2018 before Read and his partners decided to shut down and go their separate ways. “Rarestone really flourished at the start of the DeFi summer of 2020, and it’s positioned really well.”
Hot DeFi seems like an age ago. But as frothy market conditions give way to bearish sentiment amid the Terra crash, the energy crisis and creeping inflation, Read said those who are in it for the right reasons just put their heads down and keep working. “Pump-and-dump and spray-and-pray traders are always going to do something, some will be incredibly successful, but others will crash and burn, but I prefer longevity. A talented and driven team that keeps working to improve the industry and make it safer, stronger and more user-friendly. Those who make play-to-earn games, cross-chain bridges, NFT platforms, wallets, academies, DAOs, data unions, and decentralized identity solutions are my kind of people… If not sustainable – if it doesn’t solve the original need and move us further down the road – it doesn’t interest me as an investor.
A Crypto Funding Boom
Industry movers and shakers have had mixed fortunes during the recent downturn: financial services company Galaxy Digital reported a Q2 net loss of $554.7 million, over three hits it endured in the same period last year. Twitter boss Jack Dorsey’s Block Inc., meanwhile, saw YoY profits rise 29% in the same quarter. While some NFT and gaming initiatives have taken off, other projects continue to reach milestones, especially in terms of capital raised.
A new report from Messari show that the crypto sector has raised $30.3 billion so far this year, surpassing 2021 with a few months left. Rarestone’s own investments have remained steady despite the market downturn, with the company having backed about 10 entities this year, mostly in the web3 stack.
“One of the things I’m most interested in now is the open metaverse, web space instead of websites. The evolution of VR / AR will obviously accelerate this trend massively in the coming years, and other creative world-builders will start offering unique interactive experiences at the base layer available by the likes of Somnium Space and Decentraland.NFT will have use cases in this multiplayer gaming world, as well as in real life.
NFTs is one of Read’s passions, something that shouldn’t come as a surprise given his company’s track record. His personal collection includes 1/1 pieces of Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali, as well as a recently redeemed CryptoPunk for Tiffany necklace and nearly 100 CryptoDickButts.
Read especially bullish about the synergy between NFT and entertainment world. Earlier this year, he bought a token dedicated to the late mother of hip-hop producer DJ Premier, which led to the pair becoming friends. Read the story: “DJ Premier works closely with friends through the Animus, the artist’s collective house for the most talented artists I have ever had the pleasure of working with, many of whom are now friends. He created the first NFT collection that combines original sounds created by Preemo and visuals by Animus – a real New York feel and many artists coming together to combine different elements.
“Interestingly, 1/1 of the collection is a tribute to Preemo’s late mother, and it was obviously very important to him. I grew up listening to Preemo and he has been a great inspiration to me as someone who once seemed to slow down his hustle. We hosted a party for Bitcoin Miami 2021 and celebrated the drop by calling the Golden Era Future event, after the collection. Preemo came and did the set, which was great.
As an ardent gamer and art collector, Read clearly loves the direction of the travel sector. But he is keen to stress that perspective on the industry is key – there is life beyond blockchain.
“There are many investors out there who are like gamblers who refuse to step away from the blackjack table. I think it’s important to sometimes divert energy elsewhere. I try not to talk too much about charity work, but it’s important to me that young people have the opportunity to build an entrepreneurial spirit. Because of my own upbringing, children from single-parent homes are always supported, and I would certainly like to provide an education provider that will teach the next wave of technology builders.
Whatever this crazy industry has in store, Read clearly has his head on a swivel – and the seatbelt is firmly fastened. “I’m very excited about the future, not only watching the web3 projects I’ve supported grow, but seeing blockchain technology disrupt industries like engineering and real estate. The next ten years will be eye-opening.”