We ask the buidlers in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector for their thoughts on the industry… and throw in a few random zingers to keep them on their toes!
This week, our 6 Questions go to Nikki Farb — an active investor and advisor to technology companies who is currently a venture partner at Headline, a venture capital firm.
I invest in consumer tech (with a real love for marketplaces) and Web3. I’ve invested in Consensys (MetaMask), AfterParty, Fractal, Aloft, Wander, MarketerHire, SudShare and a few others I can’t share just yet.
Before investing, I co-founded Darby — a video shopping app that connected creators and their fans. It was such a journey. We built Darby up to 50,000 creators making videos for 5 million viewers. Working with the team at Darby was one of my greatest privileges. We were acquired by Grove Collective.
Prior to Darby, I was at Goldman Sachs in the Investment Banking Group. I learned quite a bit. Especially because I was an English teacher right out of college.
1 — What has been the toughest challenge you’ve faced in our industry so far?
There are two challenges that come to mind. The first is that it’s a noisy industry. It’s challenging to face the tough questions: What is the fundamental reason that this industry is thriving? What’s a novel use case of the tech? Finding the signal through the noise is the most important thing you can do as an investor, since it impacts how you use both your time and money. I have that answer now; without it, you run the risk of losing a lot of money.
The second is the pitfall of rallying around a negative message. One of the quickest ways to succeed in this space as a female investor is to scream that it’s a boy’s club. That sort of negativity thrives on social media, where lots of crypto conversations take place. If I wanted to be self-serving, I would say that and build up my platform, but I don’t believe it and it’s not the path I want to choose. If you say the message enough times, it could become a truth, and then we later hurt ourselves by being excluded from one of the most important technological innovations and the fastest way to even economic outcomes. If you fall into a negative message, it only hurts outsiders, not the insiders. We, as part of this industry, get to choose how this phenomenon plays out. Why would we choose to call it a boy’s club?
2 — Do you subscribe to the idea of Bitcoin as a means of payment, a store of value, both… or neither?
For Bitcoin — as a store of value. While there was a battle four or five years ago on what it would become, it has played out to be a store of value, and I think that’s the right outcome. I do see some other cryptocurrencies like Ether and Solana as a means of payment.
3 — Do you think governments will try to kill crypto?
What a spicy question! I think yes because crypto degrades governments’ power, and anyone that has power is susceptible to wanting to reclaim it — though not everyone will pursue that path. So, I think it’s inevitable that some governments somewhere will try to kill crypto. As for which government and how far they take it — who knows? That’s a movie, right there. I think some will embrace it wholeheartedly and try to make it fly, especially those with volatile currencies. But for now, it’s way too early to assume. What’s incredible about crypto is that it has the potential to decentralize power and give rise to economies that are struggling. There’s good and evil in it, just like with any other technological innovation. It will all depend on how people use it, and I want to steer in that direction, which is why I choose to invest in the space.
4 — What were you like in high school?
Confused, but I made it through! I graduated high school in three years because my mom made a deal with me that if I graduated early, I could be an actress for my fourth year instead of going to school. I was also kicked out of two schools in my freshman year because I wasn’t very well behaved, so I ultimately ended up at night school, where I later realized I wanted to change my behavior. I made another deal with my mom that if I got a 4.0 GPA in my sophomore year, I didn’t have to go to school on Mondays, and I did it.
I loved rap and hiphop culture, and I was also very into punk music (my roots are in Orange County). I was happy with my social scene and the amount of friends I had. My little sister went everywhere with me. She’s three years younger and my partner in crime.
I had about 30 jobs in high school because if I didn’t like something, I would just quit. The only job I’ve ever been fired from is Denny’s, and my favorite job was being the perfume spray girl in Bloomingdale’s. I came from a wealthy family but they later lost all of their money. In high school, I still wanted to live the life I grew up in, so I definitely had a hustler mentality and made my way. I probably skated the line of criminal behavior a few times.
5 — Thinking of a favorite poem or musical lyric, what is it, and why does it speak to you?
There are two that come to mind. The first is a saying that “only boring people get bored.” It’s my philosophy for life. I truly believe that most people get to be the captain of their own ship, so if you’re bored, go fix it.
The second is really any line from the movie The Royal Tenenbaums — two of my personal favorites are: “Did you say you were on mescaline?” “I did indeed. Very much so,” and “I’ve had a rough year, dad.”
It’s such an honest, humble and creative movie. I’ve watched it 100 times and always seem to find something new. The pursuit of individuality, creative risk — all of the characters take creative risks — and building personality is something I am attracted to.
6 — What is the book that influenced you the most and why?
I would say Pride and Prejudice. My grandmother actually gave me an original copy of the book. It’s one of the first novels I ever read in high school. I was a very avid reader as a kid, and this is one of the most grown-up pieces I can remember reading at that age. To me, it was about the power of womanhood and the unique traits we have, and how much power that gives us in the world. Those traits are also different from the ones men have. It helped me realize that I was a different human from my dad or other guys, but how that could be powerful. I used to read it every year. I also loved how they’re all sisters and that dynamic.
A wish for the young, ambitious blockchain community:
If I share my wish, it may not come true!