Focused on blockchain and an avid speaker on all things crypto, Bonnie is a Partner at 500 Startups leading its blockchain investments. 500 Startups is one of the most active seed investors globally with over 1800+ portfolio companies and an active investor in blockchain projects.
Prior to 500, Bonnie’s career spans across enterprise software working with some of the world’s largest companies such as IBM, AT&T, HP, and Deloitte, private equity investing, and healthcare strategy across Asia, the US, and Europe. She is a chartered CFA and holds a double major in Engineering & Economics from Dartmouth College.
Earlier this year, Bonnie spoke on “Bloomberg Markets: Asia” discussing investing in Bitcoin and her outlook for cryptocurrencies. As a VC investor, she believes “Bitcoin is boring”, and that there are still 3–4 major key areas in the infrastructure that need to be resolved until we can move to true mass adoption of the technology — one of the major areas being scalability.
Here’s one of her latest pieces on everything you need to know about blockchain scalability: Medium.com: Blockchain Scalability Untangled and Deciphered
Bonnie is one of the investors/partners at 500 Startups that’s looking ahead in the blockchain space. Watch the Bloomberg interview below, and listen to her views on where the industry stands today.
Continuing with our “Introducing Our Speakers” series, we asked Bonnie a set of questions about her background and her current stance on several topics in the blockchain space. It was a great opportunity to get to know her better before seeing her live at Summit Bangkok.
Interview with Bonnie Cheung
> “Hi Bonnie! Can you tell us some more about yourself and your work for/with 500 Startups?”
Ever since leaving HK for school in the US at 15, I’ve never said no to an adventure, especially when it involves seeing the world or learning a new skill. By the time I arrived at 500 Startups, I’ve worked in the US, Germany, Philippines, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Indonesia and Taiwan.
At 500, I’m leading the blockchain investments on a global level. 500 ran its first blockchain accelerator track back in 2014, and has been investing in the blockchain space since. Our portfolio includes Lightyear (Stellar), Omise (Omisego), Nebulas, Oasis Labs, Solana, Hypernetwork and many more.
> “What got you interested in blockchain at first, and what convinced you to dive deeper into this industry?”
This was the first time I felt both of my passions at school — engineering and economics — finally coming together! I’m always researching and sharing through writing and speaking to other investors, corporates, ‘to-be founders’.
> “In what sector do you think blockchain can add the most value?”
The bottom line is, it all comes back to the basics — let blockchain solve what it is best at, which is enabling non-trusting parties to transact items of value with each other without an intermediary. Thus, first and foremost, blockchain will start eating the banking industry’s lunch, starting with cross-border micropayments. At the same time, it has also shown it’s position as a safe-haven asset at times of crisis (e.g. Zimbabwe, Argentina). Ultimately, our next iteration of the internet will be an internet of values, where payment will become a built-in part of the fabric of the internet.
Next will be the supply chain, and more specifically, trade financing and payments. This is a classic scenario where there are many small, medium businesses involved and trust in each others’ creditworthiness is a clear issue. In terms of timing, we do need to first overcome privacy issues first, which quite a few projects are working on.
Underlying all of this will come also the development of a new identity framework, which will be needed for all the use cases above.
> “What’s your stance on centralized vs decentralized exchanges? — and how do you feel about all of the (recent) hacks?”
While I am a big believer in blockchain’s ability to enable individuals to have better control and ownership of our own data, and monetary assets, one of the key features that I found many early DEX projects tend to overlook, is the first and foremost purpose of an exchange is to enable users to quickly buy or sell assets of their choice.
While many placed a lot of focus on the security advantage of DEX over a centralized exchange, only very few understand the importance of building out an order book to ensure the user achieves their purpose of either selling or buying quickly and at the best price. However, with more experienced teams entering the space, bringing deeper traditional exchange operation experience, I’m hopeful we will soon see DEXs taking spots on the top 10 list.
> “We’ve heard you say some interesting things about privacy; can you share your view on privacy (regarding blockchain) with us?”
Currently, contrary to popular belief, our current public blockchains like bitcoin are only pseudonymous. For many of the industry use cases to become reality on the permissionless, public blockchain, we need to solve the issue of how to maintain privacy for on-chain data processing. Without this, it will be difficult for many of the use cases to gain adoption from businesses as no CIO will allow their data to be processed on the chain without privacy protection.
This is why we have teams working on different privacy-preserving solutions such as zk-snarks, trusted execution environments (hardware enclaves), partial homomorphic encryptions, and even attempting secure multi-party computations.
> “Why are you interested in Beyond Blocks and this region?”
500 has always been a believer in borderless innovations. With our investment experience in Asia from Indonesia, SG, Thailand, Vietnam all the way to China, Japan and Korea, we have always been amazed at the speed of adoption, and the openness and support from governments when it comes to new technology and innovation.
We have always seen our role as a global investor to bring together founders and industry from different parts of the world to create practical collaboration. And in this sense, we feel that Beyond Blocks has been really instrumental in building the same connections for blockchain companies across Asia.