Pursuing The Crypto “Red Pill” — Feature Interview With Dragonfly Capital’s Mia Deng

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In the popular movie known as The Matrix, the prized character Neo is offered a choice by rebel leader Morpheus — a Red Pill or Blue Pill. Neo selects the former symbolizing an uncertain world where one confronts a potentially disruptive life-altering truth 

Our interview guest Mia Deng believes that one’s success in the world of crypto is largely predicated on one’s willingness to take the Red pill.  Deng is a Partner at Dragonfly Capital, a cross-border cryptoasset VCs fund located in the U.S. and Asia that focuses on investments in crypto asset companies and the decentralized economy. Here’s what she had to share: 

Tell us a little about about your background 

I grew up between Beijing and California and went to college at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut where I studied Psychology and Computer Science. I started my career as one of the first product managers at Mobike, a bike-share unicorn company. After Mobike got acquired by Meituan for $2.7B, I realized that the innovative potential of internet services companies is no longer at the same level as 10 years ago – that a small number of incumbents absorb and control the user data. 

How did you join crypto space?

When I discovered the crypto universe and the internet of value, I decided to take a leap of faith because I believe that my generation is set to lead this technological paradigm shift. 

What are you working on at Dragonfly Capital?  

Each partner at Dragonfly Capital has a focus area. I lead our investments in Asia, particularly in China. 

Dragonfly Capital invested in many well-known blockchain & DeFi startups such as Cosmos, 1inch, Compound, Celo, MakerDAO, dY / dX and others. What sort of criteria was used in these investment decisions? 

We have a robust research process, where we look to identify categories that are interesting to track. Another key criteria of picking teams whether the founders have high long-term conviction in what they build. Crypto is cyclical so we want to be backing teams that can last throughout cycles. 

Prior to Dragonfly Capital you used to work at Amber Group. Can you share more about this company? 

Throughout my career, I’ve enjoyed betting on ‘rocket-ships,’ companies that grow from a small team to scale. Amber Group, the HK-based trading firm was the second rocketship I bet on after Mobike. I joined in early 2018 as its Head of Business Development, and it grew from 6 people to 250+, trading $330B since inception. 

When and why did you decide to move to VC and to join Dragonfly Capital? 

Having experienced the heart of Asia’s crypto scene, I moved into VC because: 

  1. I wanted to bet on more rocketships in a scalable way, and 
  2. Dragonfly positions itself as a global VC – unlike traditional VCs like Sequoia, which has a separate team for China and US. Dragonfly team functions as a global unit. 

I have found this to be an incredibly exciting new model to be building, especially for a crypto-native investment fund. 

What sort of impact do you believe women can bring into VC? 

The logic behind bringing more females into VC (and tech in general) is simple – we are investing and building the next generation of technologies for all of humanity. We need to ensure that the other 50% is represented in that process. 

What goals have you set for yourself and Dragonfly Capital in 2021?

We just raised our second fund. With Coinbase becoming the first major IPO, we will see our portfolio companies in this category pursuing a similar IPO path – helping them to raise growth rounds and strategize to adopt the wave of newcomers. 

Another area of focus for me at Dragonfly is helping our portfolio companies with their global go-to-market, whether it is a DeFi protocol building market share in Asia, or vice versa. We have developed a great practice since the birth of Dragonfly, and would like to make that process more quantitative and institutional. This is something unique to us as the number one cross-border crypto VC. 

With there being few female investors in DeFi, what advice do you have for women who want to join this space? 

I am always happy to be a resource for any female who wants to join the crypto industry and wants to become an investor or a builder. If you want to seriously pursue crypto, do it full-time. It’s something where you need to be constantly in the flow in which underscores the importance of taking the red pill.

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