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From Crimefighter to ‘Crypto’: Meet the Woman in Charge of Venture Capital’s Biggest Gamble

From Crimefighter to 'Crypto': Meet the Woman in Charge of Venture Capital’s Biggest Gamble

Kathryn Haun was the Justice Department's go-to prosecutor for Bitcoin-related felonies. Now she's one of cryptocurrency's most important investors. Here's why her career change is a watershed moment.

Debate

“Let’s settle this!” an announcer rumbles over loudspeakers.

The “this” in question is one of the more important business disputes of the moment: Are alternative currencies like Bitcoin the future of financial services or a 21st-century Ponzi scheme? To get resolution, a Mexican data center company called KIO Networks is hosting a debate in a smoke-filled arena in the graffiti-coated Hipódromo Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City. The atmosphere screams lucha libre, the stylized form of Mexican wrestling that features acrobatic moves and dramatic masks.

On this late-September evening, the main event features two intellectual heavyweights from the United States, both highly credentialed, neither wearing disguises. In one corner is Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist and Nobel laureate in economics. In the other is Kathryn Haun, an accomplished federal prosecutor recently turned venture capitalist.

Krugman’s position is predictable. He sees the rise of cryptocurrency networks—decentralized digital services that run on computerized money like Bitcoin—as an unnecessary throwback to a distant era, when precious metals made up the money supply. “I don’t believe we’re at the dawn of a new age,” he says. He delivers a smackdown on an investment craze that the likes of Jamie Dimon and Warren Buffett have repeatedly pooh-poohed: “I think 15 years from now, it will look a lot like Pets.com.”

Haun sees things differently. To her, virtual currencies and the technologies that underpin them are society’s saviors: a last great hope at reclaiming power gobbled up by greedy banks and Internet monopolists. “Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, they control all the rules,” she says. “They have all the users. They have all the power.” The new technology, Haun argues, allows eager, entrepreneurial developers to compete. She throws her weight behind the democratizing dream of the new technology’s acolytes.

Photo by Christie Hemm Klok for Fortune

Cryptocurrency is “in the dial-up days,” says Haun, “and the critics are confusing the current state of innovation with the end state of innovation.”

Haun largely wins over the crowd, a collection of the megalopolis’s tech elite. And they like her visuals too. At the outset of her talk, five giant screens project the mug shots of corrupt U.S. law-enforcement officials she convicted in her previous career. But the audience isn’t enamored of Haun merely because she once was the sheriff in the Wild West of “crypto.” She excites them because now she’s joined their side. As one of the newest partners of the estimable Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Haun’s job is to find the next big thing in cryptocurrencies—and to help their founders succeed while staying on the right side of the law.

Haun is making her career shift at a precarious time. Cryptocurrency markets have been in free fall all year. A global speculative mania for virtual coins that sent valuations above $800 billion in January has dwindled to $200 billion. Bitcoin has lost two-thirds of its value, and Ethereum, the second-biggest cryptocurrency, is down 90%.

Haun and her new partners are undaunted. Investment crazes often spawn bubbles. But what’s left after they pop, if the true believers are right, are new industries. Firm cofounder Marc Andreessen, after all, parlayed his work developing the first commercial browser into Netscape, the flawed startup that helped beget the World Wide Web—and many billions of dollars in investment returns for the Internet industry. Haun also is unfazed by her lack of professional investing experience. “For entrepreneurs to want to work with you, they need to think you have some strategic vision, some hustle, and an ability to get the job done,” she says. These are the same skills, she posits, that a prosecutor needs to persuade FBI agents and others to work with them.

Bridging worlds, then, is one of Haun’s chief attributes. “She has this rare blend of having been in government and having a business-centric mind,” says David Marcus, a senior Facebook executive who sat on a corporate board with Haun. Adds Anthony Kennedy, the newly retired associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, for whom Haun clerked: “I’m quite reassured that someone with her talents and background would go into this new area.” Her involvement “is a tremendously important link between the law and the cyber age. And she recognizes that.”

A version of this article appears in the Oct. 1, 2018 issue of Fortune with the headline “Jumping The Fence.”

This is just an excerpt; the complete article can be read on Fortune.com

ARTICLE written by Robert Hackett 

Visit MarketHive to learn more: http://markethive.com/jeffreysloe

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It took 4 years for BitClub Network to reach over $100,000,000 per month in sales and 300,000 customers. BITCOIN was at a low of $330 in October 2014 and, in December 2017, reached a peak of $19,500. According to many Wall Street analysts and high-level banking, will soon reach $100,000. How many will you have in the next 3 to 5 years? There are two ways to earn BITCOIN with Bitclub Network:

1) Acquire mining pools with the largest leverage in the sector. Turn $3,500 into $150,000.

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Bitcoin Break $3,000 Do Not Miss This

The price of bitcoin topped $3,000 for the first time in history today, according to the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index (BPI).

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After spending much of the last week seeking direction in the $2,700 to $2,900-range, the average price of bitcoin across major international exchanges edged up over this threshold finally at roughly 17:00 UTC.

The new record comes at a time when alternative digital assets are seeing robust inflows, with ethereum's ether token setting a new all-time high of more than $300 today as well.

Indeed, analysts spoke to the ongoing broadening of the cryptocurrency market as a tide that is benefitting bitcoin.

"The inflows into 'alts' are greater than those into bitcoin. In other words, bitcoin is growing at a very nice pace, but non-bitcoin cryptocurrencies are growing even faster," cryptocurrency hedge fund manager Tim Enneking told CoinDesk.

Jehan Chu, managing partner at cryptocurrency fund Jen Advisors, agreed, noting that bitcoin is likely benefitting from new investor interest and the surging interest of "cryptos like ether".

Still, Arthur Hayes, founder of Hong Kong-based digital currency exchange BitMEX, stated that bitcoin is still the "most talked-about cryptocurrency", even as returns become more substantial in other areas of the market.

Hayes told CoinDesk:

"As investors marvel at bitcoin's historical returns and the returns of altcoins, their natural first purchase is bitcoin. Bitcoin has under performed other coins this year, it is now playing catchup."

Investor Sean Walsh largely agreed, pointing to bitcoin's growing price as a sign of its place in the market as the first stop on a road to other assets.

"Bitcoin still seems like the dominant gateway to [alternative digital assets]. So, many first purchase bitcoin in order to then trade their bitcoin for altcoins," he noted.

The development coincides with signs that the cryptocurrency market is maturing to support new inflows and increasing interest.

As noted by CoinDesk research analyst Alex Sunnarborg today, the cryptocurrency exchange market has never been more globally diverse or buoyed by such an array of possible inflows.

Such tailwinds have combined in recent weeks to bring new investor attention to bitcoin, with expectations for bitcoin's growth becoming more and more exuberant. Danish investment firm Saxo Bank went so far as to publish a forecasting report in which it placed the possible value of bitcoin at $100,000 in the next 10 years.

Chris Corey 

CMO Markethive Inc

Charts on mobile device via Shutterstock

Arbitrage – What it is and how it works

Arbitrage refers to the process of instantly trading one or more pairs of currencies or odds for a nigh risk-free profit.

Usually, this involves two exchanges (this is then called a two-legged arbitrage); although more are, of course, possible.

crypto currency arbitrage

There are several steps when executing an arbitrage:

Find a suitable opportunity
Execute trades
Rebalance accounts

Step 1: Find a suitable opportunity

This step is relatively easy. Simply check the order books of as many exchanges as you like, compare bids vs asks, and check if you can find a negative spread.

A small discourse into what a spread is

I will assume you're familiar with bids, asks and what an order book is – if not, you should definitely look up those first. As for the negative spread, I'll elaborate a bit more on that. The spread is what is used to refer to the difference between bids and asks – lowest ask – highest bid = spread. This should be (and typically is) a positive value, since the best bid at an exchange must be lower than the lowest ask of an exchange – otherwise the matching engine of the exchange would settle these orders automatically.

In a perfect world, all markets and all market participants would have the same information, hence all top bids and all top asks of all exchanges would be the exact same, after fees were applied.

If you've seen the recent US elections, however, you're probably aware that the world isn't perfect, though. Hence, not all participants of a market know the same thing as the others, resulting in bids at exchanges which are higher than the asks at other exchanges – and this is what is called a negative spread.

Step 2: Execute trades

Let's assume you've found an amazing opportunity at exchange A and exchange B – a negative spread of 100$!

Exchange A: Ask 1BTC@450$
Exchange B: Bid 1BTC@550$

Luckily, you have proper funding at both to match these instantly – but how do you go about doing that? Easy! Just place an order on the opposite side at each exchange with the quote's prices!

Exchange A: Place Bid of 1BTC@450$
Exchange B: Place Ask of 1BTC@550$

Since your placed order match an order on the opposite side of the book, the trading engine matches them and the trade is settled, leaving you with a theoretical profit of a smooth 100$! Why theoretically, you ask? I'll get to that point further below.

Step 3: Rebalance Accounts

Unfortunately, you were only able to trade once today, but hey! Tomorrow's another day – but in order to be able to properly trade, you need to even out your balances. Right now, your accounts look like this:

Exchange A: 2 BTC | 50$
Exchange B: 0 BTC | 1050$

Hence, you go about and send 1 BTC from Exchange A to Exchange B, and 550$ dollars to Exchange A from Exchange B. No magic here – all accounts are re-balanced and you're ready to make a fortune again, tomorrow.

Exchange A: 1 BTC | 550$
Exchange B: 1 BTC | 550$ 

Arbitrage – Why everyone's not doing it

This all sounded wonderful? That's exactly what I thought when I first set out with my own arbitrage bot. However, there a some technical aspects that can really turn a sunny day into a poopy rain on your parade.

Caveats and risks

1. It needs to be as close to real-time as possible

This is possibly one of the hardest things to get right, and also the most underestimated aspect of arbitrage in crypto currency. The markets, compared to ForEx trading, are ridiculously slow – at busy exchanges, there may be a couple of dozen trades executed. Which gives the illusion, that polling data for bots via the most common API type, RESTful, is enough to trade risk-free. This is a misconception. Maybe for today this may appear to be enough – but what if markets picked up the pace? just 1 trade (or simply a placed order) within one second can change your opportunity from profit to loss.

2. Always trade limits, never market orders

Under the aspect of being the fastest, it might seem like a good idea to use market orders in order to be settled asap – you'd be terribly wrong. As discussed above, your data could be as old as 1 second (with above mentioned one order messing up your opportunity) – perhaps someone cleared the entire top level and all you're left with is a bid for twice the price you intended. Yikes.

3. REST API call rates make your life hard

Many exchanges employ a API call rate limit – that is, you're allowed to query data at the exchange X times every Y seconds. The differences are wide and nearly every exchange does its own little thing when it comes to limits. The problem with them is, they severely limit your actions. If you don't constantly keep an eye on how often you send a request, you might run into the limit when it seriously counts – for example when you have to cancel an order, because you couldn't place its counter part at another exchange. Unfortunately, websocket APIs are still rare and their brother on steroids, FIX sockets, even rarer – leaving you stuck with the turtle of programmable interfaces.

4. Integration with APIs can be a nightmare

There is no unified, standard definition for what an exchange API can do, or what data it returns. Which technically wouldn't be a problem, if they were documented properly. Incidentally, the exchanges with seemingly many opportunities also have the worst documentation (take btc-e.com's Documentation for example – heresy!). Of course, also the opposite is true – GDAX, Kraken, Bitfinex all have excellent documentation. But nonetheless you have to dig through them to understand how they work, what their rates are, how they handle data types, authentication and so forth. That is, if they even mention anything about that.

5. Fees will minimize, if not eliminate your profits

In my above step-by-step guide, I purposely omitted fees of all kind. But of course, they're essential to successfully arbitraging. The most commonly known fees, are trade commission fees – these range anywhere from 0.1% to 0.6% and need to be considered in Step 1: Find a suitable Opportunity. On top come fees for deposits and withdrawals during Step 3: Rebalancing Accounts. Depending on your preferred pair, these may range from feasible (transferring crypto currencies usually is cheap enough) to quite steep. For example, a deposit / withdrawal at Bitfinex entails the following fees:

Bank wire withdrawal & Deposit: 0.1% of amount deposited/withdrawn, 20$ minimum
And this does not include processing fees of your house bank – for me, for example, that's an additional 10€ for deposits, plus a 1% conversion fee. If you do the math you'll quickly realize that you don't even have to bother starting to trade at Bitfinex, unless you have a really big stack to trade with.

But this does not just apply to BTC-Fiat pairs. Alt-coins suffer a similar fate. In order to make arbitraging worthwhile, you will have to have enough funds at as many exchanges to make trades AND re-balancing worthwhile. And this quickly gets to a point where you realize your last month's savings aren't equipped to get the job done.

To give you a further example on how fees affect your profits, let's take a look back at the example from step 2, this time factoring in all fees. I'll walk you through it. For the argument's sake, we'll pretend to be a european trading BTCUSD at Bitfinex (Exchange A) and Kraken (Exchange B).

Bitfinex: Ask 1BTC@450$
Kraken: Bid 1BTC@550$ These prices are raw- they do not include trade commission fees, not transaction fees. Let's add those….

We'll define a taker fee of 0.25% at both exchange – the taker fee applies whenever you remove liquidity from the order book. Next, let's add deposit & withdrawal fees to the mix. At Bitfinex, we pay a minimum of 20$ for each fiat withdrawal & deposit, or 0.1% of the moved amount (if its more than 500$). At Kraken, we pay 0.09€ per fiat withdrawal, deposits are free. In addition, btc withdrawals cost 0.0005 BTC at kraken, while Bitfinex charges no fees for this. Deposits cost nothing at both exchanges. Furthermore, we can't transfer fiat directly from exchange to exchange – an additional 10€ fee per sent out transaction needs to be facotred in, as well as 1% conversion fee whenever we receive or send fiat from our bank account (2 times total).

Let's list these fees to try and maintain an overview

  1. Profit from arbitrage (bid – fee – ask + fee )
  2. Withdrawal Fee Bitfinex (20$)
  3. Deposit Fee Kraken (0.0$)
  4. Miner Fee for withdrawal at Kraken (0.0005BTC)
  5. Transaction Cost of our house bank (10€) (Bank to Bitfinex)
  6. Conversion Fee of our house Bank (1% of transfer amount x 2)

Let's put some numbers to these:

  1. (550 – 550*0.0025) – (450 + 450 * 0.0025) = 97.5$
  2. Move ~497$ to House bank = 20$
  3. 0.0$
  4. 0.0005BTC * 500$ = 0.25$ # Assuming this is the end of day price of the coin
  5. 10€ * 1.05 = 10.05$
  6. (497 * 0.02) = 9.94$

Which brings us to net profit of: 57.26$ This translates to 42.74% reduction of your originally seen profit.

This is neither a worst, nor a best case scenario – it's merely designed to show you how many hidden fees are involved in an arbitrage. Also, keep in mind that a 22% arbitrage opportunity is practically non-existant.

As a matter of fact, had the spread been anything less than 40$, the fixed fees of our house bank and Bitfinex alone would have made our supposed arbirtrage opportunity a loss.

6. Volatility of coins is your enemy

"No matter where the market goes, arbitrage makes a profit anyway!"

This is true – if your currencies don't tend to drop or rise by 50% within 24 hours. Ideally, both currencies you trade in should be relatively stable, while still showing a certain volatility – no volatility would mean the chart is a flat line, resulting in no opportunities for you.

The problem with pure crypto currency arbitrage (LTCBTC), however, is that Alt-coins can go completely fubar – as opposed to a fiat-based crypto arbitrage (i.e. BTCUSD). A personal anecdote:

When ZEC launched, I was instantly fascinated at the terrible market efficiency and arbitrage opportunities of almost 5% regularly. Hence, I bought in at 1ZEC@1.2BTC, thinking this is probably where market will stay at (at least it's not as bad as the guy who bought a ZEC for 3k BTC). I started arbitraging and immediately increased the amount of ZEC I was holding – completely oblivious to the fact that since I started trading, the price had fallen to 1ZEC@0.1BTC. My ZEC was worth 90% less, and I lost almost half a bitcoin worth of money.

Some volatility is great for arbitrage – too much volatility isn't.

7. Exchanges aren't as technically robust as they ought to be

Most of the time, you will find that smaller exchanges offer opportunities more often than big exchanges. This is in part due to the previously mentioned slow movement of information, but also their (often significantly lower) trading volume. Initially, this may appear like a steal – but there's usually a reason that particular exchange only has the low volume it currently does.

In a time where any one in the world can open up an exchange running on his raspberrypi and Ethereum, trading on the more alternative exchanges can be a serious risk to your investment.

From things like DDOS attacks and overloaded matching engines not matching your orders, to more serious issues like stuck withdrawals due to too low miner fees, or even theft – and the latter is a very omnipresent issue not exclusively affecting small exchanges, as the Bitfinex Heist has shown this summer; the list of potential technical failures is long and you should be aware of these at all times.

Conclusion

I'm aware this answer is overtly negative – this was intentional. Arbitrage, as well as crypto currency in general, is not the quick buck everyone on forums and dubious sites advertising trading bots make you believe. While its inner mechanisms and workings are still quite cryptic* to even the most professional traders (sorry for the pun), even the fabled cryptographic adheres to some basic principles, afterall. The 'quick way to wealth' usually will just end up quickly making you wealthless.

Start by opening up some of the well known exchanges … do not use ones such as localbitcoins .. far too risky. A good one is OKCoin.com as they have a good verification system.

(*) Another great myth is that the chinese dictate the BTCUSD market. There is no empirical proven correlation between chinese and american markets. The only defacto correlation that has been found was that of google searches for bitcoin to btc trading volume – but whether this was positive or negative was inclusive.

If you believe that my message is worth spreading, please use the share buttons if they show on this page.

Stephen Hodgkiss
Chief Engineer at MarketHive

markethive.com


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