This article was originally posted on Glenn J. Barber’s personal website here.
Ikigai (which means “a reason for being” in Japanese) is one of the more recognized digital asset managers in crypto, due in part to Travis Kling’s notable prior investment experience as a portfolio manager at Steve Cohen’s hedge fund, Point72. As Ikigai’s Chief Investment Officer, Travis is known for being forthright and speaking his mind, which is considered by many in the crypto space to be refreshing.
However, there is also a lot to Ikigai that not as many people know – they are committed to providing education and market insights to both investors and others that are merely curious about the world of digital currencies. They have an area on their website called “Kana & Katana”, which is available to anyone and dedicated to both investing and philosophy.
I was recently in Los Angeles and had the privilege to sit down with Ikigai’s CEO, Anthony Emtman. This was the second time we’ve met and like the first time, a discussion that started with chatting about digital currencies led to more thoughtful conversation about what the impact of blockchain, crypto, tokenization could be as the current global economy evolves and becomes much more digital in nature. We talked about the likelihood for another global age of prosperity, due to the scale & efficiency that digital assets will create. However, we also spoke about the potential for the gap between “haves” and “have-nots” could grow, as fewer people are needed to run an ever-expanding system of computer networks over time.
It was during this part of the conversation that Anthony mentioned something that had resonated with me during the first chat – Ikigai is very much a socially-responsible investor. Yet it’s not necessarily from the same perspective that more traditional asset managers use, where their strategy is about avoiding companies in vice-related industries or putting more money to work in firms that help sustain the environment. Ikigai’s responsibility stems from the knowledge that not everyone is going to benefit from the continual advances of technology, but that those that do reap the rewards have an obligation to give back.
What takes Ikigai’s view even further is that the firm is already actively working to understand the possibility of unintended consequences that may be created as the crypto ecosystem gets built out. Many will obviously benefit from the advance of digital currencies, some by helping build the needed infrastructure and some by being the right place & time to see the assets appreciate. But there will be many more that will be displaced or simply not have the chance to participate in this global change.
Anthony elaborated on Ikigai’s position on their most recent quarterly investor call: “We at Ikigai are compelled to consider our role in social responsibility. As we cast our vote of support in these technologies through our investment decisions, which we fully believe will have a net positive benefit on humanity, we are also clear-eyed that higher overall prosperity is likely, but a wider prosperity gap is more likely. Unintended consequences, displacement, a lack of inclusion and fairness must all be actively managed and thought through ahead of time, not in real-time and especially not reactively. Technology moves too quickly for humanity not to suffer if we fail to plan and execute. Failing to plan really is planning to fail in this instance.”
That Ikigai is already engaged in this type of thinking while building out an asset manager that strives to give investors superior, risk-adjusted returns is very much worth noting.
Glenn’s Personal Website: https://www.glennbarber.com