Clara Bullrich must have cloned herself or possibly invoked dark forces that shouldn’t be meddled with. Somehow, she’s managed to cram about four careers into one life.
Her main gig is leading her own financial entity, AlTi, managing a whopping investment fund, which grew to $54 billion under management following a recent merger. That’s a big enough job in itself.
A member of Women in Blockchain, she also runs a women-only DAO, Komorebi, that concentrates on funding female and non-gender-specific projects.
“I’ve seen in crypto that there’s very few women, and I really want to push that as much as I can,” she says. “For me, it’s always important to have skin in the game.”
And if that wasn’t enough, she’s also the founder of a gaming guild, Ola Guild Games (OlaGG), that hopes to upskill the quarter of a billion mobile gamers in Latin America so they can boost their incomes using play-to-earn blockchain games.
She tells Magazine she feels lucky to have been involved with cryptocurrencies, DAOs and the metaverse at this early stage.
“My sons are nine and 11 and will live through the entire cycle of what blockchain and crypto are creating right now. And I feel super hopeful around that.”
Hailing from Argentina, after studying in the United States and Ireland, she worked for a short time for the Spanish Santander bank in the United States. She didn’t stay there long. Laboring in the stuffy, conventional world of traditional finance clearly does not float her boat. Her favorite word is “disruptive.”
“Bitcoin is just money supported by math. I came across it about seven years ago. At first, I was very uncomfortable with that, then I thought: The big disruptions are the ones you should walk towards.”
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After a short stint at Santander, she was headhunted by an Argentine tech company called Collective Mind, which grew rapidly. Then in 2000, she started a family office business for high-net-worth clients under the umbrella of Guggenheim Partners. In those days, family offices weren’t as prevalent as today.
Over 23 years, she expanded her operations from Latin America to other parts of the world. Three years ago, this fund management business became Alvarium Investment Advisors, managing over $20 billion in investments, then recently merged with two other companies to form Alvarium Tiedemann Holdings, AlTi, with over $54 billion under management.
Bullrich had some challenges persuading her clients to invest in “disruptive” technology, including Bitcoin, but first, she had to persuade her colleagues of the merits of investing in progress rather than simple money-making schemes.
“My discussions with my partners were very much around: ‘We should be investing in tech with tech expertise, not financial expertise.’”
Her intention was to back technology that would have beneficial effects in the longer term, rather than simply looking at a financial balance sheet.
She set up the Digital Assets Committee at Alvarium Tiedemann in 2019.
“What you have to realize is that most people there are traditional investors, so the idea of crypto, blockchain, Web3, digital assets – these were really foreign to them.”
She continues, “And so being able to start that committee has allowed me to educate traditional investors about the potential of digital assets and blockchain technology.” She continues, “I wanted to create that level of expertise to be able to understand trends, why certain disruptions make more sense than others.”
She feels the mindset required is more technological and over a longer time span than in conventional finance. This led, in 2016, to her second company, which is called The Venture City.The Venture City is an accelerator to nurture innovative projects. Source: Venture City
The Venture City is an accelerator to nurture innovative projects, so it has the financial backing, expertise and support to reach its potential.
A major impetus behind TVC is to improve access to financial products and services. In some Latin American countries, up to 60%–70% of people do not have bank accounts, restricting their ability to improve their situation. Bullrich sees TVC’s investments as a means of combining technology and financial expertise with a beneficial social product.
“We have already 100 companies who passed through the accelerator, and we’re actually starting Fund 3. So, we did Fund 1 with $52 million, Fund 2 with $75 [million], and we’re going in 2023 with the launch of Fund 3. It was an amazing experience. Because very early on, we were talking about community and creating a lot of events and educational sessions around the products.”
Here are some examples of the many projects The Venture City has invested in:
Sturdy Exchange: Sturdy.Exchange is an NFT-based Web3 token in the Flow ecosystem. It aims to decentralize music distribution. It is a platform for artists, musicians and entertainers to reach their audiences with a new form of ownership and utility using NFTs.
Belo: A wallet app that uses Argentine pesos and crypto with a DeFi yield platform built in so users can receive regular returns. It aims to be an accessible cryptocurrency introduction.
Gamer Safe: This is an app to make online multiplayer gaming safer and more pleasant, by removing cheaters, fake and duplicated accounts, and policing toxicity and dishonesty in games.
Women in Blockchain
She joined Women in Blockchain (WiB) last year and hopes to develop women’s skills, opportunities and aspirations in the cryptocurrency sector.
“We are providing that platform where women can meet and be part of those conversations and move forward in terms of education,” she says. “We can become connectors of people needing a certain kind of expertise and people with that expertise can link up with those who need it.”
“So, WiB’s a completely different animal from my Venture City, which is doing that deep dive looking for companies and deciding what companies the fund is going to invest in.”
Diversity in DAOs
Komorebi is a poetic, almost untranslatable, Japanese expression that describes sunlight filtering through trees. It is also a DAO on the Syndicate Protocol, dedicated to increasing diversity and breaking down barriers to entry in the blockchain space.
The thought process behind this was that women-led startups receive only 2.3% of venture funding but perform 63% better than investments with all-male founding teams, according to Venture Capital firm First Round.
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“My involvement with Komorebi allows me to support and amplify the voices of women in tech and finance. I’m grateful I didn’t have as many hurdles of being a woman in finance, but I encountered them more in technology. So, what’s crucial for me here is being able to find an opportunity to help women find their voice in blockchain and crypto.”
She says adding more diversity to the crypto and blockchain world is a win-win for everyone.
“I’m not saying women’s voices should be dominant over men; it’s not one or the other. What I truly believe is having diverse perspectives and experiences in decision-making leads to better outcomes, and my role is to provide an additional platform for women to showcase their passion, their vision.”
When Bullrich finds a project that interests her team, she brings it to the DAO and everyone votes on whether to back it or not. “The DAO is a very interesting angle for allowing people to be part of something bigger, rather than just putting money into it.”
Final boss: Making a living in a poor country with P2E
Yield and Ola Guild Games: These are DAOs. Yield Guild Games (YGG) was founded by Gabby Dizon and Beryl Li in 2018 to involve Filipino players in gaming and cryptocurrency. The players can supplement their incomes with P2E winnings. OlaGG is a subDAO, which expands the successful concept geographically to the Hispanic market: Spain, Latin America outside Brazil and Hispanics in the United States.
“The idea of Ola Guild Games is to create social and financial inclusion for the Hispanic Community through gaming.” Its main platform is Axie Infinity, but there are options to engage with other P2E game systems as well. The concept took off in the Philippines during the pandemic, with users supplementing their tightened budgets or even multiples of the average wage with P2E gaming.
It seems like a good fit as one-third of Hispanic speakers’ income is $1.90 per day, which the United Nations defines as extreme poverty. Nearly half have no access to banking or financial products. However, more than 58% of the population in Latin America play mobile games, which equates to a user base of over 273 million people.
“So, the idea of Ola is how can we engage with people, teach them, educate them on these new tools for Web3 – to really create that financial inclusion. It might be through games, and that will be play-to-earn.”
The Guild is also creating educational programs — learn-to-earn — where users receive payment for educational achievements with the intention of having an employment structure, for example, in games development, to move on to when trained.
Conventional western aid purveyors will probably have heart attacks when they find developing countries blockchain-gaming their way up the development ladder, instead of subsisting on aid packages with strings attached.
While it does have a huge and clearly defined audience, the project is still in its early stages.
“Co-founding Ola and working with my team in Latin America represents my desire to give back and provide opportunities in a market that does not have access to the same resources as we have here in the U.S.,” she says. “I want to provide all that education I’m seeing here on Web3, structuring DAOs, and help them adopt those technologies and bring it to life. It’s not just a ‘nice to have,’ it’s a must-have for Latin America.”
“By sharing my experiences and knowledge of Web3 and decentralized organizations, I hope to bring positive change to my home country [Argentina].”
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Julian is a professional journalist and copywriter, specializing in the environment, technology and business. He has worked for the BBC, Channel 4, Reader’s Digest, NBC and Der Spiegel. https://julianj.journoportfolio.com