One of the toughest puzzles in crypto is figuring out what to take seriously.
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 venture capital stalwart Blockchain Capital, but one name stood out in particular: eGirl Capital, the social media menace and upstart VC outfit inspired by a horned-up internet subculture.
The announcement prompted an industry-wide heavy sigh and rubbing of the eyes:
eGirl Capital members, such as Degen Spartan, are known just as much for their cogent analysis of crypto’s notoriously complex markets as they are for posting nothing but animated porn for weeks at a time. One member — perhaps one of the best and brightest on Crypto Twitter — dons the social media persona of a Pokémon, Ditto, that has transformed into a couch so that people will unwittingly sit on it. The constellation of memetic touchstones animating these various comic bits is too exhausting to summarize and likely worth an anthropological study.
While it might be easy to pass the group off as a joke gone too far, eGirl Capital has been included in some high-profile press releases of late. The group participated in a $4.9 million funding round for DeFi protocol Alchemix and has also announced investments in Radicle and Unisocks. It will be releasing the first episode of an in-house podcast series next week.
As for its funding, a financial figure that was initially included in a question-and-answer document was staggeringly high. However, a committee subsequently decided to delete the figure and offer no comment in an effort to appear more “mysterious.”
The arrival of eGirl Capitale on the investment scene comes amid a period of professionalization and institutional adoption for crypto. Hedge funds that previously dismissed cryptocurrencies as a scam are now setting up trading desks. The assets are getting to be so mundane that retirement funds are allocating money into digital currencies.
However, eGirl Capital made it clear that it’s willing (and perhaps eager) to lob a glitter bomb into the midst of the increasingly buttoned-up affair. As DAO and community growth specialist Pet3rpan 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 venture capitalists, anon projects
Traditional venture capital organizations bring varying degrees of utility to a project besides money. Delphi Digital, for instance, can actively contribute to the architecting and engineering of the tokenomics and contracts of a protocol. Many offer public relations expertise and can attract significant publicity.
So, why would anyone work with an organization overwhelmingly staffed by anonymous people, or "anons"? And, likewise, what do the anons think they can bring 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,” said Eva Beylin, one of eGirl Capital's few “doxxed” members and the director of The Graph Foundation. “We’ve seen a reversal in this trend as public figures have become the face of protocols and projects, and worse yet, sophisticated tracking software has de-anonymized much of the activity going on on-chain. [...] 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.”
EGirl Capital member Scoopy Trooples, who is also a core team member for eGirl portfolio protocol Alchemix, noted that eGirl’s involvement was key in helping to generate ideas and refine Alchemix's wider vision. In a tweet, they also thanked eGirl Capital for bootstrapping liquidity, fostering insider connections and promoting the project:
@egirl_capital for being quick to understand the concept of our application and providing ample funding for our initial sushi pool. Their investment thesis into Alchemix was a fantastic piece that raised awareness. Industry connections through them have also been instrumental.— scoopy trooples (@scupytrooples) March 27, 2021
These benefits are derived in part from the wide range of backgrounds the various eGirl Capital members represent, and in part from the familiarity all members have with the ecosystem. The group stated:
“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 some ways, the emergence of venture capitalists like eGirl Capital feels inevitable: If traditional venture capitalists are increasingly comfortable investing in anon teams and distributed autonomous organizations, why wouldn’t the venture capitalists eventually go anon themselves?
“EeGirl 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 handrails, and while this may seem scary, it lets true talent stand out, unhindered by historical ties.”
He followed up this quote with a message bemoaning it for sounding too much like a “battle cry from the War of the Roses.” It was obvious, however, that he meant it.
While eGirl Capital may be the first popular example of an all-anon crypto venture capital firm, it won’t be the last. Given how it’s comparatively long in the tooth, the group offered some advice for enterprising frog avatars looking to form their own investment organizations, including members holding each other accountable with clearly defined roles and taking time to develop sophisticated, high-conviction investment theses.
“The nature of an anon decentralized collective is naturally to be very ad hoc 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,” the group said.
The irony, of course, is that eGirl Capital itself remains self-evidently ad hoc. When asked if it would be appropriate to refer to a member as a “partner at eGirl Capital,” the question set off a brief flurry of debate about whether "partner" entails legal connotations and if the word implied a formal hierarchy. Different members even offered contradictory answers as to whether or not the group can be considered a venture capital firm in the traditional 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,” the group said.
So, what happens when the group finally decides what, exactly, it is? When the joke goes as far as it can, propelling the eGirls — whether in spite of or due to the anime, anonymity and bad puns — into the same lofty echelons of success as the Alamedas and the Delphis of the world?
The group offered a simple vision:
“First she is an eGirl, then she becomes an eWoman and later an eQueen.”