Please join us on Wednesday, March 13 at 5 pm Eastern Time for a Casual Conversation with Dan Elitzer about cryptocurrency.   A lot has happened in the financial world of cryptocurrency in the last few weeks.  The SEC has authorized the sale of ETFs backed by bitcoin.  Now the SEC has before it applications to sell ETFs backed by ether.  But, here, let Vicky He Guang of the Wall Street Journal explain the current state of play (Hot New Bitcoin Funds Could Soon Have Rivals BlackRock, Fidelity and other Wall Street firms have applied to launch ether ETFs,” 02/27/2024):


"Wall Street firms launched bitcoin exchange-traded funds just a few weeks ago. Now, they want to offer everyday investors funds holding a smaller and more volatile crypto asset.


At least 10 firms including BlackRock and Fidelity Investments have filed applications to launch what would be the first U.S.-listed ETFs holding ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency. As with bitcoin and other ETFs, the firms would earn management fees for any investments people make.


Ether, the in-house token on the Ethereum blockchain, surged above $3,000 last Tuesday for the first time since April 2022 in anticipation of the potential approvals. That gave it a market cap of about $360 billion, compared with bitcoin’s more than $1 trillion valuation."


Should you invest in these ETFs or in the ETFs expected soon to be approved for the rival cryptocurrency ether?  First, let’s find out what crypto is and the risks and benefits that may accrue to those who purchase the currency directly or through a fund.  And what better guide to this world than Dan Elitzer, son of classmate Chip Elitzer.  Here is Dan’s bio: 


Dan Elitzer began his career in social enterprise and microfinance, working with both domestic social impact organizations and international development agencies. It was this work that led to his interest in Bitcoin in 2013, when he founded the MIT Bitcoin Club while earning his MBA at MIT Sloan. It was during this time that Dan also led an experiment that distributed $100 of BTC to every undergraduate at MIT.

Dan has worked full-time in crypto ever since, first at the renowned design agency, IDEO, as part of a blockchain R&D team working collaboratively with institutions such as Citigroup, Nasdaq, and Fidelity. In 2018, he co-founded of IDEO CoLab Ventures, a crypto-focused venture firm associated with IDEO.

In 2020, Dan left IDEO to found Nascent, a multi-strategy crypto investing entity with a focus on early-stage ventures. In total, Dan has invested in over 100 crypto-related ventures, and is known within the industry for being early in predicting themes within crypto and decentralized finance, such as composability, liquid staking, application-specific blockchains and rollups, and oracle-free primitives.

Dan also holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Pomona College, where he chose to spend four years in sunny California instead of Hanover, much to the chagrin of his grandmother, who had sent all three of her sons to Dartmouth.


Dan has provided a short summary of the issues for discussion:


Will Bitcoin replace the dollar or is it just another tulip craze? What about Ethereum or NFTs or any of these other "crypto things" you've been hearing about? Join us for a conversation with Dan Elitzer, founder of the MIT Bitcoin Club, to get a basic understanding of why there has been so much hype around crypto and to cut through the noise to separate the potentially important long-term trends from the sensational headlines.


In particular, we will discuss the topic of Decentralized Finance (DeFi) protocols which have introduced the ability for anyone in the world to permissionlessly trade, lend, and borrow with unprecedented levels of speed, cost, and transparency, while opening the door to a future where anyone, anywhere in the world, can access (or even create!) any imaginable financial product or service.


Whether or not you intend to buy cryptocurrency, in any of its manifestations or backed by any of its versions, you owe it to yourself to come listen to Dan do his darndest to penetrate our calcifying eighth-decade-old brains.  If we can understand quantum theory and invisibility as well as Putin’s demented purposes, if we can appreciate Kant, if we can enter into the mysteries of James Joyce, if we can appreciate the advances of CRISPR and bone marrow transplants then, surely, we owe our best efforts to gain an insight into the latest in modern finance.


Let me know by Sunday, March 10 at whether you can come to this session.  For those who intend to come, upon request I can send you a PowerPoint deck that Dan has prepared.  He will not be using it at the session because we (or, rather, I) frown on PPs.  (See Yale Professor Emeritus Edward Tufte.)


Let me know.

Arthur Fergenson


P.S.  If your lights dim during the session, the cause could be the electricity drain of crypto or growing marijuana.  Or both. 

Event format
Event category