Philosophy

Oyster Ventures invests in exceptional new-frontier technology companies.
 
We target companies that bring liquidity and efficiency to antiquated industries, companies that enable globalization, with leverage to massively scale. 

We’re in the middle of an innovation revolution. Ubiquitous access to the internet has enabled anyone with curiosity and talent to learn how to build things for themselves. It’s given them collaborators, a network of supporters, and an audience with whom to share what they’ve created.

Yet, we’re in a world surrounded by incumbents who have done things the same way for decades, if not centuries.  

We believe that today’s breakout companies will be ones that reimagine how things could work in tomorrow’s world. Marc Andreessen once articulated this thought as “software eating the world.” We think it goes beyond just software. New business models and new hardware are now possible too, enabled by software and networking.  

The first opportunity for technology is to create liquidity & efficiency. 

Countless industries still operate on manual processes or aided only by inefficient software. Most marketplaces are still largely driven by human middlemen. This has already led to the shift of several industries to online monopolies (e.g. Amazon dominating commerce and computing, Google dominating knowledge, Uber dominating transportation, etc.). Yet, for each industry thus modernized, there are dozens more still surviving as relics of the past. They will all be replaced by efficient automated marketplaces.  

The invention of cryptocurrency has taken the world by storm, most famously for enabling trust-less financial transactions. That alone is a transformative innovation — but another often overlooked benefit is the standardization and interoperability of crypto-tokens. Any number of assets and business models can be tokenized, giving them access to a whole world of existing tools, exchanges, and derivatives. This changes the nature of tech investing itself, allowing for early liquidity in one of the most traditionally illiquid asset classes.  

Globalization is bringing the world closer together. The rapid development of emerging economies opens up new opportunities.  

There's a unique opportunity for arbitrage in developing countries, where a growing middle class has an exponentially growing purchasing power, while there remains an abundance of cheap labor. A business like Rappi can thrive in this environment, while an analogue in the west couldn't compete on unit economics.  

Emerging economies also benefit from being unencumbered by legacy technology, allowing them to entirely leapfrog the more established first world. Nowhere is this more apparent than with payments, which the US pioneered with the invention of the credit card, but where the state of the art remains 70s-era technology. On the other end of the spectrum, China only developed its payments networks in the last decade, but its WeChat Pay mobile payment and commerce solution is far ahead of any systems in the west.  

The key differentiator is the ability to leverage what a company can achieve through technology and automation, making it possible to reach massive scale.

Today, a company of 500 employees can create products and services used by tens of millions. This requires being unencumbered by legacy software. It requires an understanding of how to achieve hyper growth. It requires a startup mindset.  

In an interconnected and global world, industries become largely winner-takes-all. Once a startup does achieve massive scale, more often than not, it enjoys an unchallenged monopoly position.  

Partners

Sophie Liao

Sophie is a three-time fund manager, having founded Oyster Ventures after honing her VC skills at Rothenberg Ventures where she was a Managing Director, and Draper Dragon where she was a Venture Partner. Prior to venture, Sophie managed Mergers and Acquisitions at Eight Solutions and FFD Labs, and launched her career in media by producing and anchoring at CCTV and Travel Channel, from which she was subsequently poached by Cameron Pace Group to lead Business Development.  

Kenneth Ballenegger

Kenneth is a repeat entrepreneur turned venture investor. Prior to starting Oyster with Sophie, he co-founded Republic Crypto in 2017, where he served as Chief Strategy Officer. He is also an active angel investor in over 70 companies. Kenneth has enjoyed a long career in Silicon Valley: he led institutional fund products at AngelList, designed an algorithmic investing platform for Hone Capital, was Co-founder & CTO at FreshPay, the first Bitcoin debit card, was on the founding team as Architect & Head of Mobile Engineering at Chartboost (acquired by Zynga for $250M), and worked in engineering at Tapulous through its acquisition by Disney.  

Chris DN

Chris has 11+ years of experience investing and driving operational efficiencies. His venture experience originated at Sequoia Capital where he was responsible for monitoring Sequoia’s global investment portfolio and operational excellence. He was also a former investor at GoingVC Partners and Valia Ventures. Operationally, Chris is the founder of the Venture Capital Operations Association (VCOA), was on the founding team as COO of Relatus — a B2B platform that helps startups raise capital through their relationships. Prior, he was a top consultant at Accenture and Blackrock where he led B2B software implementations. 

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