“I invest in Blockchain in addition to Artificial Intelligence. Although they are both advanced technologies, they can be very different as investments. Sometimes I joke about them as children: AI is the child that hangs out in his room with the door closed and you don’t know what he is doing but he comes home with straight A’s so you assume everything is okay,” said Rumi Morales, Partner at Outlier Ventures. “On the other hand, the Blockchain kid is the one that gets a face tattoo and is caught by the police. This is the one that overshares and is emotionally exhausting but you naturally feel more involved.”
Hehmeyer Trading + Investments sat down with Rumi Morales to talk more about being a mom in crypto, her new role at Outlier Ventures as well as her interests and mental investments in Blockchain technology.
An Economic Protocol
After seven years at the CME Group, where she led its venture investing arm, CME Ventures, Morales is now a Partner at UK-based Outlier Ventures. Voted by The European Tech Startup Awards as the top Blockchain investor in Europe, Morales is spearheading their U.S. business and scaling out their investment platform. At Outlier, she invests in and supports the convergence of advanced technologies including Blockchain, Distributed Ledgers, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT). “We are developing the next generation of protocols where AI, IoT, and Blockchain converge.”
Morales explained how Blockchain is a protocol for digital stores of value.
“Blockchain is a protocol the same way HTTP is a protocol for the web browser or SMTP is a protocol for email. It is an extension of the Internet, but in a fundamentally new way: it can have an economic value through its own digital asset.” Morales used the example of bitcoin as the economic unit for the bitcoin blockchain. “People are able to trade that value and bitcoin has a market cap.”
“Now, imagine HTTP being able to purchase Google,” she said. “What if HTTP had an economic value independent of any company? That’s a trend we are beginning to see – something at Outlier we call the “hungry protocol thesis.”
Morales referred to a company called Stellar, a platform that connects banks, payment systems and people.
“Stellar is an open API protocol that grew to the point that it had the economic capability to buy Chain, a 4-year old start-up that boasted Nasdaq as a big investor,” said Morales. “So now you have an open source protocol buying a traditional company. A protocol having purchasing power may seem outrageous but here we are in reality.”
Blockchain for Social Good
Was this what first attracted Morales to this space?
“The democratization of finance and giving people back the power of their data really intrigues me. Look at what happened with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica,” she said. “The idea that people can control their own data and have their own economic power without sacrificing their independence is really important.”
Morales is further drawn to other socially positive aspects of this new technology and talked about other projects she is involved in that leverage Blockchain for social good.
For example, she is on the Board of BitGive, the first bitcoin 501(c)(3) non-profit organization recognized by the U.S. government. It seeks to improve philanthropic impact with Blockchain technology.
“If you wanted to donate funds to cleaning up the coast impacted by Hurricane Florence or help elephants in Kenya, how do you know that your donation is going to where it says it is going?” she said. “BitGive provides that transparency by using Blockchain technology to improve philanthropy.”
Morales is also on the Board of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, which is a global association representing the digital asset and blockchain industry. It aims to develop an environment that fosters innovation, jobs and investments through education, advocacy and closely working with policy makers as well as regulatory agencies.
“Why in every election do politicians focus on bringing old jobs back like manufacturing when technology advancement is the real driver of economic growth?” said Morales. “Let’s talk about digital manufacturing – combining traditional strengths with technology innovation.”
Mental Investments in Blockchain
Morales also talked about the negative news traveling around the space and the mental energy it takes to operate within this realm.
“There are always people trying to scam systems, and I don’t think that Blockchain or crypto should be singled out compared to any other industry. But this space does bring out the best of the best and the worst of the worst,” she said. “The Twitter/Reddit wars, the scammers versus the innovators, the unregulated nature of it all. It takes a lot of mental energy to contend with but it’s worthwhile.”
While Morales knows operating in Blockchain can be taxing, she also believes it presents one of the best opportunities for women, including mothers.
“For all the articles about women and crypto, I don’t think I ‘ve seen one about moms in crypto. Why not? Why aren’t there more moms in crypto? This is a field of opportunity and I feel being involved is one of the best things I could do career-wise for my kids because of that immense opportunity,” she said. “I want to be able to shoot for the moon and reel the moon home for them. It may feel too risky for some moms but you have to look at it from the reward side too. I’m not just talking about any economic gains but the feeling that you’re pioneering something new and important that can hopefully improve this world.”