Tony Cheng, Managing Partner at Foresight Ventures, on Crypto Venture Capital and Investing in 2023 | Ep. 196

Read Time:37 Minute, 56 Second

2023-01-17 14:28:00

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In an exclusive interview with cryptonews.com, Tony Cheng, Managing Partner at Foresight Ventures, talks about investing in China, investment trends of 2023, and various ways where the VC landscape changed in 2022.

About Tony Cheng

Tony Cheng is a Managing Partner at Foresight Ventures, where he covers Web3 investments for the firm while also acting as Head of Corporate Development at Bitget Exchange. Formerly an investor at Sequoia Capital China and 3G Capital, Tony is well-versed in both traditional and crypto VC. Tony has also worked as a consultant at Oliver Wyman after earning his business degree from Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

Tony Cheng gave a wide-ranging exclusive interview which you can see below, and we are happy for you to use it for publication provided there is a credit to www.cryptonews.com. 

Highlights Of The Interview

  • Foresight Ventures’ approach to venture capital and crypto investing
  • Different approaches an Eastern-based VC firm takes compared to those in the West
  • First-mover advantage and the strength of community – are these metrics that important?
  • Investment trends of 2023
  • Various ways where the VC landscape changed in 2022
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Full Transcript Of The Interview

Matt Zahab 
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the Cryptonews Podcast. We are buzzing as always, and I’m super pumped to have today’s guest on the show. Today we have Tony Cheng, the Managing Partner of Foresight Ventures. Tony covers Web3 investments for the firm while also acting as Head of Corporate Development at Bitget Exchange we also had on the pod. Tony was formerly an investor at Sequoia Capital China and 3G Capital, as Tony is a well versed in both traditional and crypto venture capital. Tony has also worked as a consultant at Oliver Wyman after earning his business degree from Saïd Business School at the one and only University of Oxford. Been trying to get this guy in the pod for a hot minute. We finally got in mind love to see it Tony pumped to have you on man, how you doing? 

Tony Cheng 
I’m doing good. Thanks so much for having me on the show, Matt, really looking forward to speaking today. 

Matt Zahab 
Thanks, Tony. It’s been we’ve been going at your team for a while try to make this happen. Our listeners love when VCs and seasoned investors come on the show, especially in today’s market. Obviously, it’s very wishy washy. It’s been a bit of a gong show, but it was shitshow. And I can’t wait to get into this, I think a good place to start just to sort of set the table. Let’s go back to square one. Tell me about your background, your role at Foresight and give me a brief overview of Foresight as well. 

Tony Cheng 
Yeah, so um, I started my career in management consulting, doing a lot of work with financial institutions. I got lucky that I was in consulting during like the FinTech boom in China, did a lot of work with FinTech companies, gained a lot of insight into the industry. Then I got poached by Sequoia to cover FinTech investments. At Sequoia I cover FinTech investments for the team. I looked at China, I looked at South East Asia, I looked at Korea, I did deals in Africa. So I did a lot of FinTech got into crypto back then, but didn’t really invest in early stage crypto yet, unfortunately, cuz like those were the best times to have invested in hindsight, right. But yeah, so I started out my career in pretty much a lot of like these Web2 investments, looked at payments, look at asset management, insurance, all that good stuff. And I left Sequoia to join a hedge fund to kind of lead their growth investing, looking at public investing as well. But I realized like, that just wasn’t for me, my interests, especially over the past kind of couple of years, was more and more kind of tilted towards crypto because of how much innovation there that was happening in the space. If you look at a lot of the traditional FinTech companies, they weren’t really innovating. They were just trying to figure out how to better acquire customers, while in crypto, you’re still thinking up a lot of new applications, a lot of new infrastructure that needs to be built. So that was what excited me. And I joined Foresight Ventures early last year. On Foresight Ventures is a $400 million fund, our single LP is Bitget the exchange. And what we do for the exchange is we invest in the crypto ecosystem, both strategically and financially. So by financially, I mean just for monetary gain right? Now, what kind of differentiates us from a lot of these other VCs is like we have a really large ecosystem around us. So we’re willing to kind of spend more capital into building out the infrastructure at the foot. So for example, we spent quite a bit on building up our incubation arm, our advisory arm, hiring people to kind of help on token design, token security, and all of that very important stuff in crypto. So we’re very kind of long term oriented. The exchange is one of the top five in the world today. So like we’re really willing to kind of push for a longer term view in the crypto world, we’re trying to build a lot of infrastructure in this space. When we talk to projects, we try to provide as much value out as possible in the form of like working with our portfolio companies working with the exchange, getting users with our wallet as well, so and then we also have a news media platform called Foresight News. And then that’s also like one of the top media platforms in China. So that’s also another way for us to kind of get the word out about a lot of our interesting projects. So yeah, so we’re very kind of hands on and we’re very willing to kind of help build out the ecosystem and we’re lucky we have a really large LP that also shares the same vision. 

Matt Zahab 
That was a great overview. One thing I find really interesting is how venture capital firms decide to manage its sizing portfolio construction, filtering, all that kind of stuff. Can you shed any light Are you on any of those? Like, how do you guys decide to you know, spend or invest will say, one mil versus 10 mil, or, you know, a couple 100k versus a couple mil like, what are what’s the decision-making process to get to that goal? Like, how does that work? 

Tony Cheng 
Oh, that’s a great question. I think like this varies significantly, like between different funds, right. So at Foresight, like one of the core decisions that we make in regards to this allocation is, we want to make sure the fund isn’t too concentrated in any single company, right. But at the same time, you have to make sure that you have a sizable enough stake, to make it worthwhile, on your time to write to help the company with a lot of the kind of stuff that they need help on right like BD mark, customer acquisition, and all of that good stuff. So when we think about sizing, it is often a function of valuation, our conviction in the company and the allocation that we can get. So today, like a lot of the companies that we’ve done, the check sizes range more around 200k, up to a million, we’ve done a few deals, that kind of went up to 3 million, but those were at those companies had really high valuations then as well. So our stake, were, too, isn’t too high. So um, yeah, so I guess like, just to kind of sum up, right? It’s often a multiple multitude of factors. But I think the most important one, I think, is our conviction on that company on that founder.

Matt Zahab 
Is it? Tony, I have literally millions of question locked and loaded in the chamber here. So my apologies, if this becomes a little redundant, just this is something that I’m incredibly interested in. When you get a pitch deck from whoever it may be. What’s sort of the next step after that is that pitch deck due diligence, meeting with the founder, walk me through that whole process. And a quick follow up to that you just talked about, you know, the founder, and I hear venture capitalist all the time speaking about the importance of the founder, or the founding team, right, a lot of VCs won’t really touch a solo founder, they always want at least a team of two, it just again, the power of multiples, it just makes life a hell of a lot easier, less work on your plate. What do you vet and founder besides the obvious, you know, proven track record grit, you know, ability to raise funds ability to be resourceful? Are there any sort of extra variables or perhaps under the table variables that you guys look for in a founding team as well?

Tony Cheng 
Yeah, I’ll take the first I’ll take the founder team first founder question first. I think like one of the most important questions that I asked the founder is his conviction, right in the idea of what they’re building, because like, oftentimes, in crypto, you have people that are a lot more short term oriented, because like, it’s just easy to kind of do like get rich quick schemes, right in crypto do a lot of project, you copy a project that is there’s a lot of ways to kind of set up. But I think like one of the most important questions. But then the most important kind of traits we look for in a founder is his conviction in the space and how much he wants it right? And how much he’s studied this space, or research this space to show that he really wants this to kind of be successful. Because the reason why it’s this right, it’s this kind of conviction is because crypto changes so fast, right? There’s so many moving parts every single day, new innovations happen, like every hour or so. So what happens is like people can get sidetracked really easily. We often want founders that are persistent in their kind of pursuit of their vision, but at the same time, right? If he is super persistent, on a kind of wrong trail, like after, let’s say, half a year or a year, we realize like this direction doesn’t work, he still needs to pivot. So like I think conviction and his idea is super important. But at the same time, we also want to make sure that he really thinks about this and he is open to kind of feedback. So yeah, I think like for us, number one, obviously is the conviction, his understanding of the space. But number two is his willingness, his openness to kind of speak with others, on openness to ideas, openness to feedback, or with investors as well as kind of peers.

Matt Zahab 
If you were to have like a dream founder, like, you know, one of the Mark Zuckerberg or Adam Newman’s or Elon Musk’s, like who is sort of your ideal blueprint crypto founder at the moment. I know it’s a bit of a weird one. But if you could sort of replicate or double anyone that’s currently in the space, who would you pick? And why?

Tony Cheng 
Probably Elon, right, I think because if you look at what Elon has done over the years, like he’s often taken his ideas and ran with them. Even when like everybody was said, You’re crazy. Sounds are crazy. Right? SpaceX, Starlink, right, Tesla, all of this even Twitter today, right? I think that’s a super important trade, right. But at the same time, he’s open to feedback. Like, I’ve heard a lot of stories where especially like when he was kind of coming into China, right, like the way he kind of do to do business over here, he was quite open to a lot of like, what they’re seeing what the China’s senior management was kind of telling him. So yeah, I think like Elon, if he was kind of doing something, and crypto is probably the most important deal that I will only want to get into.

Matt Zahab
The guy. Yeah. You just gave me a perfect segue there. Tony, another thing that I know a lot of people are very curious of, and one of these reasons because us in the West, per se, we don’t have boots on the ground in the East, right. All we have is stories, we’ve rarely experienced it. What are some of the differentiators between Western VCs to Eastern VCs? Like what are some of the two different approaches? And how do you and the team at Foresight, you know, bridge the gap between those two?

Tony Cheng 
Yeah, I think like, first of all, you have to better understand the two different markets, right? So if you look at China, so let’s just say like the Eastern Market is, probably like China is probably the one with the most ARPU, right like high value users. Because it’s so big. And that uses a lot of people in crypto over here. So you have to realize like right now in China, there’s a lot of regulations around trading crypto, you can’t actively market crypto, you can’t issue tokens through Mainland China entities. There’s a lot of limitations that have been set by the government to protect retail investors. And I personally think it’s a great idea. But to be honest, if there wasn’t any regulations in China, there wouldn’t be as many opportunities for grassroot founders, because it would everything would be taken by the Internet giants. The Internet giants in China has a much bigger monopoly on the internet versus the US, in my opinion. Because like, everything in China is like an all-in-one app. So like pretty much every single app, you can do so many things on it, which makes building monopolies so much easier.

Matt Zahab 
Sorry to interrupt, Tony, can you give a couple examples of that, like a couple of the apps and the different functionalities that they have?

Tony Cheng 
Yeah. So if you look at WeChat, right on WeChat. It’s not only like a social media platform, well, it’s not only a chat network, right, so you can chat with your friends. It’s a messaging app. There’s also a TikTok type functionality on it that has grown really quickly. So you can look at short form videos. There’s also ecommerce on it. There’s a lot of mini programs where you can use in WeChat to purchase products, you can buy a lot of things on it, you can use it as a bank, right? You can use it as a payments tool. You can use it.

Matt Zahab 
Come on it does all this?

Tony Cheng 
Yeah, it does everything. So right now, like TikTok, you guys know TikTok in China. It’s called, Douyin. It’s a bit different. But like the core is every this all the same. TikTok in China is branching out into it has tried to do a lot of text messaging, which hasn’t really done really well. But what it has been doing well, it’s been encroaching in this space where the Yelp in the US kind of operates. So it’s doing a lot of short term, short form videos for people to see to go to restaurants, right. There’s a lot of restaurants being shown in these videos. And then there’s a link of the restaurant, you can purchase coupons, you can purchase like teasers to go there, and then experience it so and then there’s a lot of travel videos that shows all of the interesting places in China. And you can buy direct tickets directly within the video. So like a lot of these apps in China’s so they build upon what they have like that traffic that they have. They allow you to do so many things upon it. So for example, if they really opened up crypto, right, if you have like a wallet in there, everybody would have a wallet.

Matt Zahab 
Yeah, good point.

Tony Cheng 
It would be impossible for any startup team to get into the market. So this is a very different between Eastern and Western markets. So once you have that background, right, then you will realize like what a lot of Eastern VCs try to think about in this space. What they try to do better is obviously like you want to try to figure out ways to acquire customers that doesn’t really hurt the regulatory environment. So you’re not really breaking any laws, right? You have to figure out ways to not break laws and hurt the regulatory like rules, right? You want to make sure you have a way to acquire customers that doesn’t encroach upon what the government has set out. So that’s this kind of ingenious kind of thinking is very different in China because a lot of VCs have to think about this when they’re talking to these projects, right? They have to look more around, well, is this project doing something interesting? And can they actually acquire users with what they’re building? Whether they’re building a Metaverse project, whether they’re building a social project, can they actually acquire customers in China, or their target market? I think a lot of Western VCs don’t have to think of this as much, because the market that they have, it’s all kind of not as regulated as in China. So it’s more of a kind of free market, for them to kind of test around with a lot of this stuff. But in the Eastern markets, you have to think more about like this team, their ability to actually scale the product. And the VCs here, also have to have a lot of relationships with kind of the larger user platforms to see whether they can help on user acquisition, which I think Western VCs don’t have to do as much. Because customer acquisition in Western markets is very different, versus Eastern markets. That’s kind of like core point I wanted to make. I think another really interesting kind of thing you have to think about as an Eastern Market VC, is that even though you can’t actively publicly market in China, you have to think about going global as well. And then, in this process, right, as you’re kind of going abroad, going into global markets, you have to have VCs that have strong brand names overseas, to help you kind of build consensus and other global communities, right, because one of the toughest things for Eastern VCs to do, given the language barriers, the cultural barriers, is to actually build consensus in Western markets, being able to communicate well, being able to kind of sell that story, being able to get people to better understand what your protocol is, it’s so much easier if you’re in that native kind of English speaker, right, which a lot of Western firms are, but as an Eastern kind of project, you need VCs to help you better tell that story. And I think that’s why like, if you look at a lot of like Eastern VCs, they all kind of have like an incubation arm, they try to help you build consensus, storytelling, help you kind of develop the protocols, work on user acquisition, these are all super important things that a lot of Eastern based projects really need.

Matt Zahab 
No doubt that was incredibly well explained. Tony thank you for that. I want to go back to WeChat. And just sort of the all-in-one encompassing app. Is there a reason why, you know, I’m obviously from Canada, but will grapple me into into USA and Mexico as the West. But is there a reason why we don’t do this on our side of the pond? Like, why don’t I know Facebook obviously has a decently sized moat, but like, Why aren’t companies like this? Integrating payment processors? And you know, e-comm and the whole nine yards, just like you talked about, it just seems like such a no brainer. Is it perhaps that we wouldn’t want that? Like, do we like are different ops? What’s the reason?

Tony Cheng 
That’s a great question, like, that’s a question we often ask as well, right? I think one of the core reasons is a lot of companies in the Western markets, they don’t really copy one another, right? Like, if they see this company doing pretty well, in this space, a lot of them, I feel like a lot of them will just kind of move in another direction. They’re more after the innovation, rather than kind of just right business model itself, right. So whereas in China, I think, because innovation is so cheap, everybody that has a good idea is often going to get ripped off or copied. Therefore, like everybody has to kind of do everything to kind of make a lot of like these business models work, right. And then to scale as well, right? If you want to scale, like the average revenue per user, you have to kind of build a lot more services into it. Whereas in the US, if you have this one single service, you already have a high enough ARPU for that user. And it makes sense for you to kind of just continually acquire new users versus adding on to like that average revenue that you kind of extract from each user also. So yeah, I think it’s mainly because the user profiles are so different, right? If you look at Southeast Asia, it’s very similar to China. They all have super apps as well, same as in Africa. So a lot of like these low ARPU countries, they have to do that to make economics work. Whereas in the US and Canada, a lot of these Western markets because the single value of users is so much higher, it’s just easier to kind of just continually acquire new users for a single product versus building out everything.

Matt Zahab 
So interesting. Tony, you’re on a roll we got to take a quick break and give a huge shout out to our sponsor the show and then we’re going to come back and Tony’s going to keep buzzing. That is PrimeXBT you guys know we love PrimeXBT at Cryptonews. We’ve been using them for a hot minute and they’ve been friends of Cryptonews for quite some time as they offer a robust trading system for both beginners and professional traders. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a vet, you can easily design and customize your layouts and widgets to best fit your trading style. PrimeXBT is also running an exclusive promotion for listeners of the Cryptonews Podcast. After making your first deposit, you get 50% of that deposit credited to your account that can be used as a bonus and additional collateral to open positions. The promo code is CRYPTONEWS50, that’s CRYPTONEWS50 to take advantage of this offer, again, that is CRYPTONEWS50 all one word to receive 50% of your bonus credited to your trading account. And now back to the show with Tony. Tony, let’s get back into some of the crypto specific stuff. Now, I haven’t done a whole lot of investing on the latter half of 2022. I guess I haven’t done any investing in this year either mind you, it’s gonna you know, we’re mid Jan. But back in 2021, when life was good life still good. But when it was money printing season, NFTs, tokens, you name it. It was fun being a sort of an angel, and by angel, you know, a couple small ones here and there. But even just on the personal investing side, as most of our listeners will be, you know, personal investors. A couple of the classic advantages to investing that we would always look at that you know, a singular person would always look at is first mover advantage, strength of community. And a couple other things like that. Now, when I was investing to NFTs or even tokens, you always want to see the strength of the community, are they pumping? Or are we rather pumping the token on different social media? Or is it in the news? You know, are people passionate about this project? And then of course, first mover advantage speaks for itself? What sort of metrics do you guys look at on the VC side? Like what are the biggest differentiators between personal investing and venture capital investing when it comes to crypto?

Tony Cheng 
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think like, just from a personal perspective, oftentimes, you don’t really have to dig that deep into the numbers, right? Um, you look at the community, you look at the number of people that is really hyped about the project, the way that they’re kind of trying to build consensus, a lot of this is more kind of high-level understanding, right. But then as a VC, I think one of the core things we do that is deeper is we do a lot of cross checks. So we go like for any kind of given project, in a specific space, we often have to kind of look at all of the competitors in that space to figure out if their solution is one of the more interesting ones, right, obviously, like this doesn’t work for like NFT communities, because like, it’s just so many, right. But when we’re looking at middleware, when we’re looking at infrastructure, when we’re looking at applications, in crypto, there’s often going to be a lot of competitors. So I think you have to dig a lot more deeper into a lot of these competitive landscapes. And that’s a really important thing that you have access to as a VC because a lot of these competitors, you might not be able to access as a personal investor. But as a VC, oftentimes, if not, you have friends that might have invested, you have connections that might get you an intro, you get to do a lot more kind of comparisons between all of these different crypto projects. So yeah, I think that’s the biggest difference as a crypto investor personally as a versus like a professional investor. Right. And on that topic, like when we’re actually like, I think, a point you made like around data around community activeness, all of that. I think something we’re seeing that we hope to see as well do better in crypto is the amount of data. So right now, there’s a lot of crypto projects that work with data, right? If you look at Dune, if you look at the bank, if you look at a lot of these, so Nansen as well. They do a lot of work around Whales, around protocol numbers, but what they’re not doing too well is the individual level. So there used to be a lot of like NFT analytics, so they would analyze wallets of Whales on what kind of NFTs they were holding how early of a holder they are. But I think like that’s not enough. So right now in crypto, there’s not enough labels on these wallets. Right? So you can see the number of NFTs that they hold, but you don’t really know like, what all of the protocols that this wallet has interacted with. Whether this wallet has other wallets connected to it, whether this wallet is a trader versus a holder, whether this wallet interacts with GameFi or is it more of a DeFi user. So I think there’s a lot of labeling that still needs to be done in Web3. Because ultimately once like a lot of these applications come out, you have to have ways to target the target audience of your application, right? In Web2, you had a lot of Cookies, you had Facebook Data, you had Google Data. But then in Web3 right now, like nobody is, has done a great job on the wallet level data. And I think that’s something super interesting that an individual might not be able to do. But as a crypto investor, being looking at the entire landscape, looking at all of these different protocols in different spaces, you might be able to kind of sense get a better sense of what companies might understand the data the most, the best, and then try to find out investment opportunity there.

Matt Zahab 
Interesting. So that’s a that’s a huge one that we can look forward to 2023. What other investment trends are you monitoring for this year?

Tony Cheng 
Yeah, another one is NFT, not necessarily NFTfi, but just NFT applications. So for example, we were actually working with quite a few like NFT projects to see if there’s any ways to kind of build NFT PERPs for example, right, if we can build NFT PERPs that are tradable on the exchange, that’s a very important product innovation, we’ve seen a lot of NFT PERPs being built. But um, there’s just a lot of kind of risk metrics that you have to think about, if you’re actually launching this as an exchange product, right? Whether you can do the risk management, whether you have market makers, and all of that. So, yeah, so I think like NFT products, I’m changing like I’m making larger NFTs tradable as bite sized portions, right building applications that use NFTs not only as a kind of token, but also kind of more using this NFT as a true, like digital asset. For example, a lot of these gaming projects today, one of the core things that they’re talking about is these NFT assets are yours to own forever, I think real world asset NFTs might come online soon as well. You’re gonna see houses being traded as NFTs you’re gonna see more kind of real-world assets being tradable. You’re gonna see digital identities being potentially tradable being used as ways to get airdrops and so on. So yeah, I think like for NFTs 2023 2024 NFTs are going to be a huge trend that we’re actively monitoring. Because there’s going to be a lot of gaming as well in gaming is just going to take NFTs to the complete hidden next level.

Matt Zahab
Every everyone says that, Tony, and again, I’m you and I are in the same yacht here. Man. I also think that will happen. But like, that’s been the narrative since summer of 2021. And we’re almost two years for almost 700 days later. And there’s really has been, in my opinion, almost no, momentum like.

Tony Cheng 
Because good games takes time.

Matt Zahab
They do, they take I’ve worked with gaming companies, they take forever to build it. You can’t just whip one up overnight. But like, there’s still no good games out there. Like even the best Metaverse are still just absolutely horrible to navigate through. Right? It’s like, you think it’s this year? Do you think 2024? How far away are we?

Tony Cheng 
Yeah, I think it really depends on the macro as well. Um, I think to be honest, like, if you look at crypto gaming, you have to have an earning element in there, right? It has to be play and earn or Play-to-Earn, you have to have that earn element. And if you don’t like your game better be super fun. But then you have so much competition in Web2 for that as well. So I think having that earn element is super important for a lot of these games. And then for that earn element to be worthwhile, you need the market to be better. With this current market. Like any kind of game you launch. There’s not really enough momentum, right, just from the retail crowd to really play it. But then once you realize that if the micro conditions get better, there is more of a kind of money-making environment, I think it’ll be a lot easier for games to kind of pick up and like I don’t think it has to be Play-to-Earn I don’t think like you have to make everything like just for the money. I think there’s going to be a lot more better gameplay as well. But then you still have to have that earn element.

Matt Zahab
It’s got to be like the true ETHOS and essence of gaming have a shitload of fun playing our game. And you will have an opportunity to earn.

Tony Cheng 
Exactly.

Matt Zahab 
Right, but the primary aspect of the game cannot be complex game so you can make money it can’t be Axie where it’s like you had a whole country you know, using Axie as their primary income it just that’s unrealistic. The times have changed.

Tony Cheng 
Exactly.

Matt Zahab 
And I’d love to see Web3 gaming pop off but I still think we’re at like at least a year away perhaps I’d love to be wrong but yeah, it just there’s most of the games are still not fun at all. Tony this has been absolute treat man and couple more questions and then we will wrap up here. But another thing that is that I find incredibly interesting is how VCs throw their money around in different markets. Obviously, in 2021, it was probably very easy to invest. I worked with companies who were getting just massive investments, first time founders in the space, money was being chucked at anything and everything fast forward to 2023, not so much gunpowder on the sidelines, how, you know, how do VCs navigate the differences of bull markets and bear markets?

Tony Cheng 
Yeah, that really depends on how much money you have, right? We’re lucky to have our exchange as an LP, they’ll giving us money, making us actively invest. So we haven’t really slowed down, our pace has slowed a bit. But like, we’re still actively investing we we’ve done a couple of deals over the past couple of months. And we’re still kind of very actively looking at a lot of interesting innovations in the space. But I think right now is actually the best time to be investing. valuations have come down. But I think they’ll still come down lower, they’ve already kind of cut 50 to 70%, for a lot of the projects that we’ve seen, maybe two or three months ago. So yeah, right now is even more important to see the conviction of the founder and the space that they’re operating in, right? Like, if they have enough conviction to kind of build this in a bear market where it might last for one or two years before seeing anything fruitful. This is a time to actually bet on these guys. So yeah, I think like right now is actually one of the better times some of us versus the bull market. Because in the bull market, like a lot of crazy valuations. 100 million for a pitch deck with nothing to show for it. A lot of the projects we’ve done then actually turned out worse, versus some of the deals that we’re doing now. So yeah, I think like right now it’s a good time to be cautiously optimistic. We’re still going to be investing for the next year and the next couple of years, because we’re lucky to have a very strong LP that supports our long-term vision.

Matt Zahab 
Blood in the water, baby. That’s the nice, yeah, but what’s the Warren Buffett quote, blood in the water or blood in the streets? Something like that. Tony, what’s a day in the life of Tony Cheng look like? Like, give me a typical day, you know, you can throw in some of your personal stuff to maybe the odd workout or meals or whatever. But like, give me your schedule. Like, are you? You know, I have a couple of VC buddies who some of them work 18-hour a day, some of them were two hour a day where they have, you know, for half an hour meeting with founders. And that’s it. So what does the normal day of Tony look like?

Tony Cheng 
Yeah. So usually, the day starts at around eight o’clock, start taking a couple of meetings around here, nine, and then lunch, right? Usually, maybe with new founders that are interesting that might have a new project coming on.

Matt Zahab 
Is this in person lunch?

Tony Cheng 
Yeah. So now a lot more in person, I guess. So like, apart from like, just meeting founders, right, a lot of the things that we do, we try to gain as much insight as possible into, like what Web2 has done, right? So we try to I personally try to always speak to a lot of people to figure out what has been done before in Web2. And the lessons potentially learned in Web3. So for example, I speak to a lot of like Web2 founders to see like how they used to acquire users in China when they weren’t allowed to, like, for example, publicly market their goods, to see if there’s any kind of lessons to be drawn from. If you can use it in crypto, my think a lot of Web2 experience will ultimately move into Web3 as well, only, it’s only just Web3 has, it’s so early. So a lot of the things that Web2 has kind of gone through will happen in Web3 as well. This is something we see at the exchange, right, a lot of operational level, growth hacks, growth marketing, a lot of the kind of techniques that we use are often copied from Web2 companies, like for example WeChat, what they did, what ByteDance did, what TikTok did, right, all of these companies. So yeah, I try to speak with a lot of Web2 founders to figure out like, if there’s anything interesting to learn, for our portfolio companies, and then maybe once a week, catch up with some of the more interesting projects that we’ve spoken to in the past year or so. And then see like their progress, see what we can help on. And then some of our own portfolios, whenever they need, they can call us. I’m usually very open to speaking with them like and I wanna, just from a time basis, like I often do called late into the night because a lot of my portfolio companies are in the US or Europe. So yeah, and then try to squeeze a workout every now and then right around the evening times. Yeah, pretty boring life. Just speaking to a lot of people. I think like the most important thing about VC is just trying to meet as many people as you can try to figure out what you can do better.

Matt Zahab 
Tony, I would not say that’s boring man. I think being a VC would be an absolute treat and a half you get to speak with engaging, driven, you know, very switched-on founders all day long. Like I there’s a lot of people who would do bad things to be sitting in your chair. So I don’t know about that. Tony, you absolutely crushed this. I learned a ton. I will definitely be listening to this one again. Couple more questions and we will conclude hot take factory, we have a segment on the Cryptonews Pod where we jump into the hot take factory and we let a couple fly a couple hot takes that only Tony believes in, where most other people do not. It doesn’t have to be crypto related or investing related. It can be you know, health, wealth, happiness, politics, sports, nutrition, space, AI, you name it. Give me a couple Tony Cheng hot takes.

Tony Cheng
Yeah, I think one of the hot takes might be AI might not be as significant game changer as what everybody is kind of hyping it to be right? There just might be a lot of like detrimental stuff that AI does. For example, like right now one of the worst things that I feel like AI has been kind of doing is just making plagiarism so much easier, right? Well, not necessarily plagiarism, like I see all of these students, especially in college, or even those in the workforce using ChatGPT to write papers, right. And then you see a lot of tools to kind of combat that like anti plagiarism tools. So I think like AI, at least short term, there might be a lot of kind of like really negative effects on people’s innovation, creativity. And that just might not be something like, super positive for the human race to move forward on. Yeah, that’s one of the hot takes, another hot take might be I think the human lifespan will increase significantly, in maybe 50 years. I’m not sure if like I might, I’ll be lucky enough to experience it in this lifetime. But like just looking at what the innovations what the strides have been made in health care, in anti-aging, in stem cell research, there might be a lot of super interesting kind of health-related innovations, disruptions in maybe 30 40 50 years time. 

Matt Zahab 
I agree with you. What about, like, it’s unfortunate, but people need to die. Like what’s, what’s going to happen when people stop dying, and our population hits like 10 billion.

Tony Cheng
No, like, when people don’t die? I don’t think they have kids, either really? Yeah. Or they’re, or it might just make society segments them. And only the super-rich might be able to have kids. So that would be really kind of dark time. But if that really happened.

Matt Zahab 
What so like having kids would be a privilege, it will be like a privilege for the elites?

Tony Cheng 
Yeah, a super high privilege. I think so. I just feel like right now, if you look at China, if you look at a lot of these kinds of developing countries, having kids is already so expensive, right? People are less so having kids today, population growth in like a lot of these developed Asian countries have slowed significantly. So South Korea, birth rates are the lowest ever, Japan is similar, China, we’re probably going to see negative population growth this year. So the reason why is because it’s so hard to just make it in society today, right? Because there’s just so much pressure, to make money, to live healthy to kind of be the best you, and then having kids it just makes everything so much harder. So if we live in a dystopian future where nobody dies, obviously, like the entire society, the competitiveness would be much higher. So having kids would be given an even a higher cost than today, right? So I think like either people just don’t have kids, or just having kids is going to be super expensive and only the super high privileged will be able to happen.

Matt Zahab 
That’s a darn good hot take. That’s spicy as hell, I love that. Tony, this was a treat man really appreciate you coming on and can’t wait for round two. This was this was truly really awesome. And I appreciate you. Before you go can you please let our listeners know where they can find yourself and Foresight Ventures online and on socials?

Tony Cheng 
Yeah, so um, foresightventures.com is our website. Foresight (F-O-R-E-S-I-G-H-T). Ventures (V-E-N-T-U-R-E-S) .com. This is our website. And then we’re very active on Twitter. So Foresight Ventures on our Twitter account is @foresightven (f-o-r-e-s-i-g-h-t-v-e-n). And you can follow me personally @tcheng_100 (t-c-h-e-n-g underscore 100).

Matt Zahab 
Boom. Tony appreciate it man. Thanks again and can wait for the next one.

Tony Cheng 
Thanks so much for having me really enjoyed speaking to you.

Matt Zahab 
Folks what an episode was Tony Cheng. He was absolutely dropping knowledge bombs left, right and center. We frickin love to see that. Huge shout out to Tony and the team at Foresight for making this happen if you guys enjoyed this one I hope you did please do subscribe it would mean the world to my team and I, speaking to the team love you guys. Justas my amazing sound editor, appreciate you as always and to the listeners love you guys. Keep on growing those bags and keep on staying healthy, wealthy and happy. Bye for now and we’ll talk soon.



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