Blockchain Investor Charles Read Talks Crypto, NFTs and Giving Back

As the co-founder of web3 investment firm Rarestone Capital, Charles Read is intimately familiar with the crypto market’s topsy-turvy nature: the euphoric highs and crippling lows that regularly spawn both eulogies and obituaries. However, the 28-yearold is an antithesis to the wired investor who spends all his time obsessively trading candlesticks. He is a father to three and speaks out about his ability to maintain a calm head while striving for equilibrium.

“This industry is truly remarkable, the talent at work is on another level, but you can definitely get too wrapped up in it if you’re not careful. As others, I am an addict/compulsive personality. I can get overworked and carried away sometimes. Decompressing is something I do. For me, the best way to do that is by travelling – I find it hard to think about crypto when I have my music on and I’m moving around the world taking it in. Exercise is also great for unplugging and de-stressing.”

You are a restless youth

Rarestone started as an accelerator, but has since evolved to become a focused investment vehicle. The company has invested in close to 100 projects, and it was founded five years ago. Camron Miraftab was a longtime friend and co-founder of the company. He is also ex-Head, Strategy and Operations at Blocko in Korea. The majority of Read and Miraftab’s investments so far have been in NFT, GameFi, DeFi ventures. Read sits on several cryptocurrency startups such as Caduceus which is a blockchain that focuses exclusively on metaverse development. What is the secret to his involvement in crypto, then?

“Gaming was my first passion, so it’s been really cool to see blockchain games and tokenised digital commodities come to the fore. My participation in this industry predates the whole thing.

“Before I found my way into the space I spent a lot of time in college bouncing around different subjects – medical science, art, photography, graphic design, English, sociology, psychology – but I never followed through with anything because I didn’t fall in love with them. My last wage was in the headhunter business, which recruited for defense and government agencies. I was reasonably good at it but I didn’t get paid enough, in my humble opinion,” Read chuckles.

There were stints with wallet company Zumo and consulting for high net-worth investors. Servamps, a prototype of Rarestone, was then in full bloom during 2018’s crypto winter. Read and his associates decided to close it down and start their own ventures. “Rarestone really flourished at the start of the DeFi summer of 2020, and we were exceptionally well positioned by that point.”

The DeFi summer feels like yesterday. However, as the Terra crash and rising inflation brought bearish market sentiment, Read said that those in the business for the right reasons just put their heads down. “The pump-and-dump and spray-and-pray merchants will always do their thing, some will have phenomenal success while others will spectacularly crash and burn, but I’m more interested in longevity. Talented and motivated teams that are always working hard to make the industry safer, more secure and easier for everyone. Those building play-to-earn games, cross-chain bridges, NFT platforms, wallets, academies, DAOs, data unions, and decentralised identity solutions are my kind of people… If it’s not sustainable – if it doesn’t solve a genuine need and move us further along the road – it doesn’t interest me as an investor.”

The Crypto Funding Boom

The industry’s movers and shakers have had mixed fortunes during the recent downturn: financial services firm Galaxy Digital reported a Q2 net loss of $554.7 million, over triple the hit it endured in the same period last year. Twitter boss Jack Dorsey’s Block Inc., meanwhile, saw YoY profits soar by 29% in the same quarter. Some NFT-related gaming and NFT initiatives are still in limbo, but other projects continue to reach milestones, especially when it comes to capital raised.

Messari’s new report shows that crypto has already raised $30.3 billion this year. This surpasses 2021 which had several months left. Rarestone’s own investments have held steady despite the market slump, with the company having backed around 10 entities so far this year, mostly in the web3 stack.

“One of the things I’m most interested in right now is the open metaverse, webspaces rather than websites. This trend will be accelerated by VR/AR’s evolution in the next years. More world-builders will offer unique interactive experiences using base layers from Decentraland and Somnium Space. NFTs will have use-cases in these massive multiplayer gaming worlds, as well as in real life.”

NFTs are one of Read’s passions, something that shouldn’t come as a surprise given his company’s track record. He has a personal collection that includes 1/1 pieces by Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali and a CryptoPunk that he recently converted for a Tiffany necklace.

Read is especially bullish on the potential synergies that can be found between NFTs, entertainment and other industries. Read purchased an NFT token to honor the memory of DJ Premier’s mother, who passed away in 2012. This resulted into the two becoming good friends. Read picks up the story: “DJ Premier worked closely with my friends over at Animus, an artist collective home to the most talented artists I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, many of whom are dear friends now. They built his first NFT collection which incorporates original sounds made by Preemo and visuals by Animus – real New York feels and a multitude of artists came together to bring different elements together.

“Interestingly, the 1/1 from the collection was a tribute to Preemo’s late mother, and it was obviously very important to him. I grew up listening to Preemo and he’s been a big inspiration to me as someone who never seemed to slow his hustle. After Preemo’s collection, we hosted a Bitcoin Miami 2021 party and called the event Golden Era Future to mark the release. Preemo came through and performed a set for it, which was very cool.”

Read, a passionate gamer and art lover, loves the way the sector is moving. But he’s keen to stress that perspective on the industry is key – there is life beyond the blockchain.

“There are many investors out there who resemble gamblers that refuse to step away from the blackjack table. I think it’s essential to sometimes divert your energies elsewhere. I try not to talk much about my charitable activities, but it’s important to me that young people have the opportunity to build entrepreneurial spirit. Because of my own upbringing, children from single parent homes will always get my support, and of course I like to give to educational establishments that will teach the next wave of technology builders.”

Whatever this crazy industry has in store, Read clearly has his head on a swivel – and his seatbelt firmly fastened. “I’m incredibly excited about the future, not only watching the web3 projects we’ve supported evolve but seeing blockchain tech disrupt industries like engineering and real estate. The next ten years will open a lot of eyes.”


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