In this episode of Web3 Unlocked, Kenzi Wang and Sachi Kamiya speak to Ciara Sun, Founder & Managing Partner of C² Ventures, on being a woman in web3, the challenges she faced, and the road ahead for her fund.
Before Ciara dived into the world of web3, she was a management consultant with Boston Consulting Group and Deloitte. Her journey to discovering crypto began in New York in 2017 when the city had become a hub for investors and entrepreneurs interested in blockchain. Having spent years working in banking, capital markets, and private equity, she understood how crucial digital assets and blockchain were for making the global economy more inclusive. After working at the crypto exchange, Huobi, in international business development, partnerships, and leading the global markets and institutional business unit, she decided to launch her firm, C² Ventures. The company focuses on empowering the creators of the next-generation web3 and metaverse applications. Here are edited excerpt from the podcast:
C² Ventures, the journey so far
C² Ventures is a six-month-old early-stage Web3 investment firm that focuses on developing the blockchain ecosystem. Capitalizing on all the experience Ciara Sun's experience, C² Ventures works closely with founders and helps them expand their firms to the Asia markets. The firm also has expertise in token design and tokenomics. C² Ventures focuses on developing the blockchain ecosystem.
C² Ventures has partnered with Gala Games to launch a gaming fund as the latter has introduced successful gaming apps, and there are significant synergies between the two companies. While the former can help with tokenomics, the latter can help C² Ventures with due diligence and understanding the traditional business. The partnership aims to support a new class of developers who can build entertaining games powered by blockchain technology. Ciara Sun believes Gala Games can serve as a bridge between Web2 and Web3.
The idea behind the name C² Ventures: C can stand for cryptocurrency, catalysts, cyber, or any other term. It’s open to your interpretation. ‘C²’ encapsulates multiplying your investments concerning any of these terms.
Women in Web3: Where are we?
According to the World Economic Forum, women own 5% of cryptocurrency's market cap and have found 8.5% of companies in the blockchain space over the last six years.
“Out of the 121 founders of the top cryptocurrency companies, five are women. Also, men are two times more likely to invest in crypto than women, and only 9% of women say they understand cryptocurrency. So the question becomes, why aren't women more involved? After speaking with several female leaders in the crypto space, I've found that a lack of confidence in their knowledge about cryptocurrency is a major reason. The very idea of money is changing before us, and as women, we need to acknowledge that and benefit from it. At a fundamental and foundational level, we need to promote women leaders at the college and school level and encourage them to learn more about cryptocurrency and blockchain.”
For women looking to enter this pace, getting involved in different projects, working with VC firms, and doing internships are good ways to make inroads. Companies are also looking to reduce gender imbalance and keenly evaluate female applicants. Joining platforms like WomenWhoCrypto, which fosters diversity and allows you to participate in various cryptocurrency-related programs, entrepreneurship, and innovation, is also very helpful. Women who have already established themselves in the web3 space are keen to become mentors to other women looking to make a career in this industry.
Challenges, Harassment, and Hypocrisy
The crypto industry, like any other, has inaccurate preconceived notions about women in the space. Women's lack of technical expertise is one of the main complaints held by many people in the industry. Women entrepreneurs are often asked about their age, which would not happen if the founder were a man.
“Because building the business and speaking at conferences require a lot of travel, things like getting enough sleep and eating well have been a challenge for me. But I am grateful for the support I have received from my team and friends. And yes, I do get asked weird questions like - ‘How do you think you can start a fund as a young girl and attract really good talent?’ I have become better at dealing with comments like these. You have to stay focused on what you are good at and your work will speak for itself.”
People often think of women as the ‘face of the company’ and don’t expect them to have deep expertise. While one doesn’t have to respond to these comments or questions, the only way to change these ideas is through one’s work.
Crypto Twitter and why it matters…
Crypto has become a significant part of Twitter. Everybody, from investors to analysts, is on the platform.
“I think Elon Musk wants to take Twitter private because of the great influence the platform has over crypto. If you’re someone who wants to build a following on the platform it is very crucial to communicate honestly and in a timely manner. And you should also be able to find a narrative. Being a female crypto leader helped me get a following because many people saw me as a role model, especially women from Asian countries. People are more likely to reach out to a person they know when they’re facing an issue, as opposed to customer service. That’s why I try to be as active as I can because then people feel like they know me as a person and can trust me.”
For Ciara Sun, a lot of her Twitter following grew during her time at Huobi. She was the company spokesperson and was managing a lot of crisis situations. Her advice is that when you are managing a community, it is best to understand all points of view and think of the problem from different perspectives.
The DAO was initiated by Sun’s ex-colleagues and the objective was to support women in Web3. All the proceeds of the NFTs from the DAO go to WomenWhoCrypto. The plan is to use the funding for meet-ups, help women in the space and eventually organize conferences.
The Current Market Cycle
For listings, there are no fixed answers for questions related to what percentage of tokens should be unlocked on day 1 or what should be done to go on different exchanges. You need to redo your calculations based on what has happened in the last week or two.
There is a lot of money in the primary market right now. New large funds (100 million to a billion) are coming out every week. That is the reason the valuation is high. Also, it takes time for the primary market to react based on what is happening in the secondary market. Currently, the secondary market is not buying whatever big VCs are investing in. Ciara Sun believes these valuations will take a serious hit in the next 10-12 months.
“The general market now is volatile. I prefer not to predict the market but to react based on what’s happening. We can focus more on the building during the bear market. And when the bull market is coming, we can leverage all our resources to promote our portfolios. As a founder, you need to be on top of the hottest topics, and what is trending, and take the biggest opportunities out of it as quickly as you can. My recommendation is that considering the state the market is in right now, companies should reconsider their valuations so that they can hold up.”
Why Web3’s Future is Bright
“There is incredible talent in the space and we’re all like-minded people. We had great jobs in Web2 but were bold enough to quit and are now helping build Web3. The second reason is that there are just so many opportunities to grow here. This is the bridge that will build the Web3 of Uber, Instagram, and Google.”
Web3 is an exciting space where the markets never close and where your physical location has little significance. And while the industry may not be ideal and inclusive at the moment, that is something the early adopters are thinking about seriously and working towards.
The Talent Problem in Web3
While a lot of top-level talent from Web2 is switching over to Web3 and founding companies, there is a shortage of talent across the board for entry and mid-level roles.
“You have to be truly interested in Web3 to work in the space. And to get people’s interest, there needs to be a lot of education. The first step is to feature leaders who accomplish great things in this space. Then after that, it is up to the individual. If you are curious and passionate about blockchain, it doesn’t matter if you are a developer or not, you can contribute to the space.”
If the industry makes a joint effort to make itself more inclusive and brings on people from all backgrounds, races, and genders, there will be more role models who can assure people that they can build a successful career in this area. More use cases of applications that can make people’s lives easier and better will also be helpful in attracting more talent.
Here is a list of the selected time stamps on the different topics discussed during the podcast:
01:09 - 07:40: Ciara Sun’s professional journey and entry into Web3
08:08 - 10:10: Founding C² Ventures and the experience of the transition
10:20 - 13:35: Why women are a minority in Web3
14:10 - 16:27: How women can make inroads into Web3
18:45 - 23:26: Challenges and prejudices women leaders face
23:43 - 28:18: Ciara Sun’s Twitter following of 224k
28:32 - 31:21: CiaraDAO
32:46 - 35:28: C² Ventures’ investment thesis
36:38 - 40:10: Analyzing the current market cycle
40:32 - 42:25: The C² Ventures and Gala Games partnership
44:01 - 46:35: Ciara Sun’s role models
47:03 - 47:33: Advice to women founders
47:44 - 50:15: Top reasons to believe in Web3
50:45 - 54:28: The shortage of entry and mid-level talent in Web3
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