By Investable Universe
A podcast about real assets. Infrastructure, real estate, commodities and energy in the listed and private markets. Global trends in the market for physical things.
Polar Futures (2021) - Episode 5, Author Anne Kirstine Hermann
When we spoke with Greenland’s Foreign Minister Pele Broberg on his country’s efforts to secure greater economic and political self-determination from Denmark, he was very excited about a book that had just been released in Denmark that he believed could really change the conversation around Greenland’s relationship with Denmark. Our guest on this episode is Anne Kirstine Hermann, the Danish journalist who wrote that book, Imperiets børn (Children of the Empire), on Denmark’s attempts to absorb the world’s largest island in the post-World War II, essentially colonizing it while denying that it was being colonized. In this final episode of Investable Universe's five-part Polar Futures series, we discuss what happened, what it was like for Greenland, and how that legacy is still in evidence in Greenland and in Danish-Greenlandic relations. Anne Kirstine Hermann is a PhD journalist and Fulbright Scholar. Imperiets børn was written with support from the Kim Wall Memorial Fund and the Carlsberg Foundation in Denmark
June 27, 2022
Polar Futures (2021) - Episode 4, Greenlandic Foreign Minister Pele Broberg
In the spring of 2021, a controversial rare earth metals mining project proposed in Greenland thrust the island’s “kitchen-table economic issues” to the very center of the geopolitical stage. A snap election was called over whether to mine critical metals at the site, called Kvanefjeld—an election that resulted in a clear “no” vote from the Greenlandic people and ended decades of rule by the dominant Siumut Party. It is fair to say that this was a “No” heard round the world, ushering in a new coalition government led by the Inuit Ataqatigiit and Naleraq parties, and a new approach to self-determination and natural resource management for Greenland as it asserts its newly strategic role in the Arctic—a cold region, hotly contested. For this episode of Polar Futures, a special Investable Universe series on investing in Arctic real assets, our guest was the individual leading Greenland’s government efforts in these areas, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Business and Climate, Pele Broberg
June 27, 2022
Polar Futures (2021) Episode 3 - PolArctic CEO Leslie Cannavera
This is Part 3 of a five-part series, Polar Futures, produced by Investable Universe in 2021. When discussing the emerging Arctic economy, the focus is often on extractable natural resources, and how those are protected, exploited, or sustainably harvested. But what might be the ultimate resource—what has elsewhere been called, not without good reason, “the new oil”—is data, the fuel of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Our guest this episode is a pioneering innovator of that powerful resource. Leslie Cannavera is the CEO of PolArctic, which develops artificial intelligence and machine learning models for companies working in the Arctic region. Specifically, the company has developed a customizable neural network algorithm (called Ice Cubed) based on historical data and trends that can forecast up to a year the future ice breakup and ice freeze patterns in the Arctic. Leslie Cannavera is a United States Air Force veteran who served as a Commissioned Officer. PolArctic is a member of the Arctic Economic Council (AEC), and Leslie currently leads the AEC Blue Economy Working Group (BEWG), and serves on the Maritime Working Group and the Infrastructure and Investments working group (IIWG).
June 27, 2022
Polar Futures (2021) Episode 2 - Quintillion Chief Revenue Officer Mac McHale
This is Part 2 Investable Universe's five-part Polar Futures series produced in 2021. The next-phase of the Arctic region’s economic evolution will be data-driven—and that brings new focus, new demands, and new opportunities for investment in the region’s telecommunications infrastructure network. Digital real estate—whether above ground through data centers or cell towers or under the icy surface of the Arctic Ocean—will be key to powering almost every other industry in the region. For perspectives on the Arctic telecommunications challenge, our guest this episode is Mac McHale, Chief Revenue Officer of Anchorage Alaska’s Quintillion, the owner-operator of a submarine and terrestrial high-speed fiber optic cable system that already spans the Alaskan Arctic, and connects to the lower 48 U.S. states.
June 27, 2022
Polar Futures (2021) Episode 1 - Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson
This is a special series produced by Investable Universe in 2021 as Polar Futures. For perspectives on the strategic challenges and opportunities in the new Arctic economy, our guest for Episode 1 was Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson, who served as one of the top Senior Arctic Officials during Iceland’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 2019-2021. He previously served as Iceland's Permanent Representative to the United Nations where he chaired the Third Committee of the General Assembly during its 72nd session. Mr. Gunnarsson was the Permanent Secretary of State of the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2009 until 2014, dealing with the aftermath of the economic crisis of 2008. He has also served as Iceland’s Director of International Trade Negotiations, Director of Personnel, Deputy Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Geneva, Counsellor at the Mission of Iceland to the EU in Brussels, Counsellor in the External Trade Department and Legal Advisor to the Foreign Ministry’s Defense Department.
June 27, 2022
Megan O'Connor, Founder and CEO of nTh Cycle, on disruptive recycling technology--and an alternative commodity market-- for lithium-ion batteries
By 2030, there will be over 15 million tons of lithium-ion batteries ready for recycling, containing over $18bn just in the battery element cobalt. But while recycling seems like a no-brainer, current chemical-based battery recycling methods can leave a damaging and corrosive environmental footprint, not unlike extractive industry. It's a problem--but one that this week's guest is ready to solve. She is Megan O’Connor, Co-Founder and CEO of nTh cycle, a Boston-area startup that has developed a modular, electric solution to sustainably recycle lithium-ion battery materials. She holds a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Duke University and is a graduate of the second cohort of the Innovation Crossroads program at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In this episode, she discusses nTh cycle's technology, the challenge of EV battery recycling, and what may soon be the emergence of an alternative, tradable commodity market for recycled battery materials.
August 23, 2021
Turner & Townsend's John Robbins on Building Back Better in 2021...and impacts of the Biden Infrastructure Plan
Recovery from the economic impacts of covid-19 has meant supply chain bottlenecks, worker shortages and rising building costs to major cities around the world. Are these short-term supply hiccups, or longer-term threats to economic health? In this episode, John Robbins, U.S. Managing Director and North America Head of Real Estate at Turner & Townsend, which provides consultancy services to the real estate, infrastructure and natural resource sectors) shares insights from the firm's newly released 2021 International Construction Market Survey (ICMS), which provides intel on construction costs in 90 global markets. He also offers key takeaways on potential market impacts of the Biden Infrastructure Plan, which was still being debated in the U.S. Senate when the episode was recorded.
August 11, 2021
Entrepreneur Will Zell on a new kind of VC fund...plus what's disrupting U.S. manufacturing (and where)
Entrepreneur-investor Will Zell has made a mark in technology, real estate and other sectors. In 2014, he co-founded manufacturing disruptor Nikola Labs, which was a spinout from Ohio State University that scaled with the aid of venture capital, where he remained as CEO from its establishment until the third quarter of 2020. Now having transitioned out of Nikola, Mr. Zell has set his sights on disrupting venture capital itself –his firm, Zell Capital, has created an SEC-registered investment vehicle called the Access Fund, aiming to open early-stage VC investment to non-accredited investors, a category that includes 87 percent of U.S. households. In this episode, he talks about Zell Capital's vision for the Access Fund, Nikola Labs, venture capital, the future of manufacturing...and why Ohio is the place to watch for disruptive innovation in industrial robotics.
July 30, 2021
DTN's Mary Friedrichsen Tangen on the emerging golden age of precision agriculture
With tens billions of venture capital money being directed at agtech startups in recent years, how different will farming and agriculture look a decade from now? Our guest this episode is Mary Friedrichsen Tangen, Vice President of Agriculture Strategic Initiatives at DTN, the U.S. based firm that provides commodity market analysis, hyper-local weather forecasts, and agronomic insights for guiding planting, growing and harvesting operations. Mary has more than 20 years of experience in SaaS and data businesses, and her executive role at DTN connects her to the company’s more than 2 million global customers across agriculture, energy, financial and weather-sensitive industries. In addition to her decades of data and precision ag expertise, she is herself a grower, operating a farm with her family in Northwest Iowa.
July 01, 2021
Phantom Space Founder/CEO (and former SpaceX founding member) Jim Cantrell on the future of space transportation
...If you thought (as we did) that space ridesharing (a la SpaceX or BlueOrigin) was the end-all, be-all of the emerging space transportation and infrastructure sector, think again. An even newer market is emerging in the field of small-rocket launches--which offer satellite clients greater discretion over time and location--a subsector of the new space economy whose rise may be accelerated by the adoption of Ford-style assembly line dynamics. An undisputed pioneer in the field, Jim Cantrell, is the Founder/CEO of Phantom Space, a privately held developer of small-rocket launch technology. Cantrell has been involved in space engineering for decades, as a veteran of the U.S. Department of Defense Space Dynamics Laboratory, the French national space agency CNES, and, not least, as the first VP of Business Development at SpaceX, where he shepherded a young Elon Musk on a trip to the former USSR to buy disused launch equipment. We hear more about that story--and about Phantom Space's big bet on small rockets--in this episode.
June 15, 2021
Can critical infrastructure hacks be behaviorally predicted? ClearForce CEO Tom Miller explains.
Attacks on critical U.S. infrastructure, from small but potentially lethal attacks on municipal water systems to this spring's Colonial Pipeline hack, have increased in frequency and severity. Amid calls for more robust defense of critical infrastructure--and current enthusiasm for infrastructure investment overall--is current technology capable of identifying potential cyberattack liabilities days, weeks or even months before a hacker might exploit them? In this episode, we talked to Tom Miller, CEO of privately held Virginia-based security company ClearForce, which combines machine learning, compliance, and workflow automation to monitor critical supply chains and identify security threats. In addition to its operating model, ClearForce's board has a very strong U.S. ex-military presence, including former CIA and NSA Director Gen. Michael Hayden (Ret.), and former National Security Advisor Gen. James Logan Jones, Jr (Ret.)
June 09, 2021
OHMConnect Co-Founder Curtis Tongue on combining energy technology with...a touch of Hollywood
California's OHMConnect has a cool take on smart energy: the company's mobile platform, which functions like a "virtual power plant," pays users to curtail electricity use during peak demand periods, incentivizing them through fun flash events held during "OHMHours." With recent initiatives including a California-wide intercity competition to find the state's "Energy Saving Superhero" and a partnership with Google to bring the platform to NEST users, OHMConnect is connecting consumer behavior patterns on mobile apps to sustainable energy usage. Earlier this spring, we spoke to Co-Founder Curtis Tongue on OHMConnect's blockbuster success as an energy/entertainment hybrid.
June 04, 2021
Wade Guenther of Wilshire Phoenix Funds on a solid gold market for metal ETF's
Last year's covid-related market dislocations made gold shine as the preferred "flight-to-safety" trade. This year, with vaccination rollouts proceeding in many countries and bringing economies closer to a new normal, there's still a solid case for gold (any idea why...?). Our guest this episode is Wade Guenther, Partner at Wilshire Phoenix Funds, who brought over a decade of experience in the exchange-traded fund (ETF) industry from firms like Horizon and Global X, to Wilshire, which recently rolled out a new gold ETF, WGLD, that offers an enhanced level of exposure to this all-season commodity. We discuss the case for gold in 2021...why Bitcoin's claim as the new "alt-gold" is no substitute for the real thing, and why even stable coins backed by precious metals may not give investors all the exposure they're looking for.
May 24, 2021
Nadeem Nauthoo, co-founder of "School of the Future" TKS, on energy technology as imagined by young people
Solutions to global issues like climate change and energy transition, and the advancement of emerging fields like quantum computing and ethical application of AI are being revolutionized as we speak...by the very young. This episode features Nadeem Nathoo, co-founder of Canada's TKS, or The Knowledge Society, a 10-month accelerator program for students around the world aged 11-17 who want to pursue disruptive innovation and exponential technologies. Beyond just radical homeschooling, TKS is like bypassing school entirely and going straight to a seed-stage startup. Participants have built radio telescopes and 3D printed rockets, developed microbe technologies and AI applications to diagnose depression and build prosthetic limbs, and developed biofuels using CRISPR. TKS has been hailed as a “School of the Future” by the World Economic Forum. We discussed the program, the challenges of post-covid education, and how young people at TKS are tackling fields like energy technology.
May 13, 2021
Silicon Valley rainmaker and TokenMaker founder Ben Way on NFT's and the emerging market for asset digitalization
Investable Universe takes a minor detour in this episode: while we've talked about tokenization and digitalization of real assets on several podcasts, this time we're talking about the realization of digital assets. That's one way of conceptualizing NFT's, non-fungible tokens. Is there a future for institutional investment in digital assets, and are NFT's purely a fad or a foretaste of the future of asset digitalization? Futurologist Ben Way is a multi-hyphenate tech entrepreneur and venture investor, as well as the CEO of Silicon Valley venture advisory the Rainmakers, acknowledged as one of the world's first tech incubators and fast-tracker of 204 companies. Rainmakers has advised the Executive Office of the President of the United States on the rollout of UTMS telecom technology, worked with the Microsoft Innovation Team on SaaS. Now, Way has launched a new company, TokenMaker, where users can create their own no-code tokens and NFT's.
April 30, 2021
Kathy Hannun, Dandelion Energy Co-Founder and longtime Google X engineer, on geothermal energy in the U.S.
Why hasn't the United States embraced the potential of geothermal energy like other countries have? This question vexed Kathy Hannun, former engineer and executive at Google X, the "moonshot" innovation lab at Alphabet. So she founded Dandelion Energy, the home geothermal startup that just received a $30 million Series B venture capital round, led by Bill Gates's Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Kathy Hannun has been recognized as one of FastCompany's Most Creative People in Business and as a Leader of Tomorrow in Albany Business Review's "40 Under 40." In this episode, she talks about the geothermal market opportunity in the U.S., how she designed a system that to surmount traditional barriers to entry for geothermal, and bringing new investors to Dandelion.
April 19, 2021
Raghu Kilambi of PowerTap Hydrogen on the emerging hydrogen (infrastructure) economy
As the global economy transitions to renewable sources, along with new applications in fuel cell batteries, in electric vehicles, and rocket fuel, the hydrogen energy market is expected to top $208 billion in value by 2027 ($130 billion just in the U.S.) with the potential to create 700,000-plus jobs, according to some market estimates. This episode's guest is Raghu Kilambi, CEO and CFO of PowerTap Hydrogen, an emerging company that partners with fueling networks to install hydrogen fueling stations in the U.S. and Canada, speaking about the future of the "hydrogen economy" and the infrastructure required to store, transport, and deploy it.
April 12, 2021
Ceylon Graphite Chairman and CEO Bharat Parashar on the future of the global graphite market
Are boom times ahead for the global graphite market? An essential component in EV batteries and energy storage, in smart materials and Internet of Things applications, in water treatment in lightweight composite materials used in aerospace, and in biomedical devices, graphite has been deemed so critical to the 21st century supply chain—as a battery metal and so much else--that it has been officially designated a strategic critical mineral by the United States. In this episode, Bharat Parashar, Chairman and CEO of Ceylon Graphite, talks about the future of the commodity that his firm calls "the new oil."
March 30, 2021
Are we in a "green energy bubble?" Piva Capital's Bennett Cohen on venture capital and energy technology
A 2020 report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers (cited by MIT Technology Review) found that from 2013-2019, early-stage venture capital funding in green technologies rose from $418 million to $16.1 billion – an increase of more than 3,750% during the period, or 3 times the growth rate of VC investment into artificial intelligence, which has also been identified as a critical emerging industry. Have company valuations risen too far, too fast? And what does it mean for the energy transition and for private equity and venture capital overall? This episode features Bennett Cohen, partner at San Francisco venture capital firm Piva--the energy, mobility and industrial fund backed by Malaysian state-owned oil company Petronas--on the outlook for renewable energy technologies.
March 17, 2021
Digital pioneer Sukhi Jutla on how her blockchain startup is revolutionizing the U.K.'s billion-dollar gold and diamond jewelry market
Sukhi Jutla is co-founder and COO of MarketOrders, which has developed and scaled a highly practical and relevant retail application for blockchain in the precious metals industry, connecting midstream with downstream in the U.K.’s billion-dollar market for gold and diamond jewelry. The company helps independent jewelers to access gold and diamond inputs from global suppliers quickly, efficiently and more cheaply. In 2018 she was named one of the Top 100 European Digital Pioneers by the Financial Times as well as one of the Top 10 Crypto influencers of 2020 by blockchain bank Trastra. In this episode, she talks about the MarketOrders business model, about the future blockchain, and the global supply chain for precious commodities.
March 12, 2021
Eric Wilson of Turner & Townsend on what's ahead for Texas energy infrastructure
We recorded this episode just over a week after a near-collapse of the Texas power grid following an unusual winter storm that was, in many respects, a “perfect storm” of weather, market, energy and infrastructure factors. As Texans continue to recover, five members of ERCOT, the non-profit corporation that operates the Texas power grid, have resigned. But questions remain about the nature of Texas’s energy market structure, about weatherizing the state’s energy infrastructure, and whether this winter's catastrophic freeze will bring any long-term changes to the grid. For industry perspective, we spoke with Eric Wilson, Head of Energy & Natural Resources for North America at Turner and Townsend, the global consulting firm specializing in issues of construction, cost and risk management in the real estate, infrastructure, energy and natural resource sectors.
March 03, 2021
Dan Doney, Securrency CEO and Co-Founder and Former U.S. Intelligence Officer, on the Security Challenges of Cryptoassets
Cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance are approaching more mainstream adoption, and presenting new challenges to financial sector integrity as well as national security. On this episode, we talk with Dan Doney, CEO, Co-Founder and Lead Architect of Securrency, a firm that provides coin-agnostic security logistics for cryptocurrency transactions. Doney is a recognized industry expert in artificial intelligence (AI), software architecture, cybersecurity and dynamic pricing. He is also a former longtime U.S. intelligence officer, who served with the National Security Agency (NSA), the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and finally, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, where he was appointed Chief Innovation Officer.
February 26, 2021
Infinite Composites Founder and CEO Matt Villareal on the emerging outer space supply chain
The future is here...and it's pressurized! American entrepreneur and inventor Matt Villareal leads a pioneering company, Infinite Composites of Tulsa, Oklahoma, which designs, develops and manufactures liner-less composite pressure vessels for high-pressure gas storage used in aerospace, aviation, transportation, and oil and gas. Mr. Villareal holds 6 patents in the field of high pressure and cryogenic gas storage for space exploration and sustainable transportation and has collaborated on multiple technical publications in the industry. He is also featured in the Forbes Magazine list of Next 1000 entrepreneurs redefining the American dream. In this episode, he breaks down the nuts and bolts of the new energy supply chain and why the market for pressure vessels might be about to explode.
February 23, 2021
All About Secondaries with Christian Munafo, Chief Investment Officer of Liberty Street Advisors/SharesPost 100 Fund
In recent years, the number of publicly traded companies has sharply contracted, while startups have tended to stay private for longer. One key reason why venture capital-funded companies have been able to delay their public market debut has been the presence of the secondaries market, where investors can buy and sell holdings in privately held firms. In this episode, we talked to Christian Munafo, Chief Investment Officer of Liberty Street Advisors and manager of the SharesPost 100 Fund, a closed-end fund with around $340 million in AUM that invests in secondaries of late-stage VC firms.
February 05, 2021
Gary Griffiths of Wisdom LLP on putting VC money behind veterans and older entrepreneurs
Creativity doesn't stop after age 30. Gary Griffiths is a former U.S. Navy nuclear submarine intelligence officer and longtime Silicon Valley entrepreneur who's launched a new VC fund, Wisdom LLP, that invests in disruptive startups by mature, non-traditional entrepreneurs: and particularly, military veterans--and offers a new twist on the traditional fund model to address LP risk. In this episode, Griffiths talks about his fund's belief that the best management experience is gained through wins and losses over time, what his fund's portfolio looks like right now, why traditional venture capital remains so biased against older founders, and why military service is the ultimate hothouse for growing management talent.
January 29, 2021
Juan Carlos Artigas, Head of Research at the World Gold Council, on why gold still glitters in 2021
Gold was one of the market winners of 2020 (with one of the lowest drawdowns over the course of the year), aided by a heightened risk environment, low interest rates, and strong price momentum, factors that show no signs of de-materializing anytime soon in 2021--not even with Bitcoin adherents making a counter-appeal as a safe haven asset. We talked to Juan Carlos Artigas, Head of Research at the World Gold Council, which provides timely insights on the gold market including drivers of demand, supply, and performance, and key attributes of gold as an investment and its role in investor portfolios. Mr. Artigas is the architect of the council's Gold Valuation Framework, a methodology for understanding gold performance through a whole range of factors that affect price, including physical and derivatives markets, and how these interact with macroeconomic and geopolitical dynamics.
January 26, 2021
AgAmerica CEO Brian Philpot on market issues facing U.S. farmers in 2021
Over the past year(s), farmers have navigated not just the challenges of covid-19, but also a tough environment for trade and tariffs with foreign agriculture trading partners, a contentious U.S. election whose outcome will have effects on farm policy, and the disruptive technological forces that are shaping the future of farming. Brian Philpot in CEO and Principal Owner of AgAmerica Lending, one of the largest non-bank agricultural lenders in the United States. Brian himself is also a value investor in residential development, industrial and office real estate, manufactured housing, timberland, and has developed and sold a broadcast tower portfolio company to an institutional investor. In this episode, he speaks about how U.S. farmers have fared under covid, top farm policy issues under the new Biden Administration, diversification, transformative technologies, and more.
January 22, 2021
Roofstock Co-Founder and CEO Gary Beasley on (disrupting) the market for U.S. single family rental housing
What does the ability to buy, sell and trade houses (or fractions of houses) online say about the way Americans are thinking and acting around housing decisions? While institutional funds have taken significant stakes in U.S. residential portfolios in recent months (especially in the Sun Belt), a broader segment of investors can invest using online platforms like Roofstock. For perspective on the U.S. housing market outlook, online real estate disruptors, and Roofstock's growth trajectory, we talked to Roofstock Co-Founder and CEO Gary Beasley, who has led two real estate investment companies through IPOs and was named a Top Fintech CEO in 2019 by Financial Technology Report.
January 15, 2021
Amidi Group co-founder Rahim Amidi on investing in California real estate, venture capital, and entertainment
Real estate and venture investor Rahim Amidi has a success story straight out of Hollywood...and Palo Alto. One of the founders and principal managers of the Amidi Group of Companies, a privately held business conglomerate based in Los Angeles, since 1980 Mr. Amidi has leveraged his expertise in startups, manufacturing, and international trade across multiple industry verticals, primarily real estate and technology. Today, the Amidi Group owns and manages more than 1 million sq. ft. of real estate and holds more than $2 billion in AUM. Its holdings include 165 University Avenue in Palo Alto, a.k.a. Silicon Valley's "Lucky Building," which was home to startups like Google, PayPal, and Logitech. The group owns and operates the Hollywood Production Center, and also funds startups through its global innovation platform, Plug and Play. We talked with Mr. Amidi about his string of blockbuster investment successes...and the Amidi Group's new apartment venture, 1010.
January 12, 2021
Kairos Investment Management CIO Jonathan Needell offers a long-term, contrarian view on U.S. commercial real estate
Economic effects of the covid year 2020 have been expressed in a variety of ways in commercial real estate, with sectors like hotels and brick-and-mortar retail struggling, while industrial and last-mile real estate has continued to attract large institutional investors, pushing valuations ever higher. Heading into 2021, perhaps it's time for a more nuanced view from a long-term, value-oriented contrarian investor. Jonathan Needell, President and Chief Investment Officer at California's Kairos Investment Management, invests in U.S. properties below the size that major institutions are trading in, primarily in growing or supply-constrained market, having invested over $1 billion to date in more than 12 million square feet nationwide. In this episode, he shares his view on the outlook for industrial, hospitality and other commercial real estate--and how "ghost kitchens" may impact the hard-hit restaurant sector in 2021.
December 31, 2020
Harvest Returns Founder and CEO Chris Rawley on Crowdsourced Agriculture Investing and Veteran Entrepreneurship
Chris Rawley is the founder and CEO of agriculture finance platform Harvest Returns. Their platform allows investors to buy fractional shares of farmland (and timberland) in the U.S. (and abroad), as well as crowdsourced investment in grass-fed livestock and other agribusiness ventures, such as vertical farming and (eventually) aquaculture--and provides agriculture entrepreneurs access to a streamlined, flexible source of capital. This summer, Harvest Returns reached $5 million in global private placement farming opportunities, helping grass-fed cattle nd sheep producers alone to raise $2.5 million. What's more, this bootstrapped company is founded by U.S. servicemen. Chris Rawley is an active duty serviceman with the U.S. Navy Reserve, while the company's partner and COO was an officer in the U.S. Army for ten years. We discuss the outlook for agribusiness investing, as well as the unique skill set that veterans and active-duty service personnel bring to entrepreneurship.
December 23, 2020
Real estate investor Edward Mermelstein on the outlook for New York City's most rarefied real estate
Real estate developer and investor Edward Mermelstein has been a dealmaker in New York City luxury real estate for several decades, and a leading expert in closing complex deals and winning unique legal cases. Having been named one of the 10 most influential figures in New York City real estate, today he is the founder and CEO of One & Only Holdings, a company that caters to the real estate investment needs of high-net-worth individuals. In this episode, Mermelstein talks about how covid-19 (and the political landscape of the past four years) has affected demand from foreign buyers for New York City's choicest properties and whether pandemic-related shifts are leading HNW investors to look beyond NYC as a real estate safe haven.
December 22, 2020
Alto IRA Founder and CEO Eric Satz on democratizing alternative assets...and the future of retirement savings
AltoIRA is an investment "platform-of-platforms" that allows holders of individual retirement accounts to use their IRA funds to invest in startups and other private companies, real estate, crypto assets and more. We spoke with CEO and Founder Eric Satz on the quandaries of retail investors accessing private market investments, the future of real assets investing, whether there's any asset that can't (or won't) be fractionalized, and, more philosophically, what the emergence of alternative retirement investment products says about how Americans view (or don't view) retirement and the old-fashioned "employer match."
December 18, 2020
AlgoDynamix founder, CEO and former Cambridge physicist Jeremy Sosabowski on quantum market forecasting
2020 looked nothing like anyone expected. Among the many who’ve had a difficult job of navigating this environment are investors and risk managers, who have traditionally relied on historical data to backtest trade strategies and assess risk exposures for current and future events. This has been a tough job in a year when so much of what happened had no precedent. This week's guest Jeremy Sosabowski, a former Cambridge physicist turned fintech entrepreneur, has developed market forecasting analytics based on quantum computing that enable investors to position for “Black Swan” events without the need for historical data, using quantum computing. His firm AlgoDynamix, provides a new level of forecasting analytics that provide advance warning of major directional market movements, not requiring any historical data or knowledge of any previous disruptive events.
December 16, 2020
IceWind's Robert Gerber discusses a pioneering Icelandic turbine, wind diplomacy, and what's at stake in the Arctic
An Icelandic startup, IceWind, has an ingenuous approach to industrial materials and design that allows a vertical axis wind turbine to provide distributed energy in extreme climates, such as the Arctic. Newly launched for residential and commercial customers in the state of Texas, the company is also finding an interested client base in foreign governments and military customers--specifically, the U.S. Air Force. We talked to Robert Gerber, who spent over a decade with the U.S. State Department, serving at U.S. Embassies in Kabul, Paris, and Washington D.C., finally serving as Political and Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland. Today, Gerber works for IceWind to develop new client relationships worldwide. We talked to him about IceWind's design, its emerging applications, and what's at stake in the Arctic.
December 14, 2020
Pow! Vincent Zurzolo of Metropolis Collectibles on comic books as an emerging asset class
This episode features Vincent Zurzolo, co-owner of New York's Metropolis Collectibles, the world's largest vintage comic book dealership, and ComicConnect.com, the largest online vintage comic auction house. He and his partner, Stephen Fishler, hold five Guinness World Records for the most expensive comics and related collectibles ever sold. We spoke with him about comics as a durable store of value, as an emerging (and increasingly global) alternative investment class, fractionalization of collectible titles, how valuations are faring as covid-19 puts a damper on conventions, major movie productions, and brick-and-mortar stores. He also describes a crimefighting crusade on behalf of one comic book celebrity...and jaw dropping auction numbers from one of Wall Street's best known investors.
December 11, 2020
Spatial STL Advisors President Andy Dearing on St. Louis's blossoming geospatial technology scene
Geospatial technologies, or earth mapping capabilities, have long been in use in military intelligence and defense. Today, they’re being deployed commercially and likely to have transformational impacts in the era of Industry 4.0, including agriculture, defense, transportation, health care, financial services, and even real estate. St. Louis has long been home to the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s Western outpost—which has $1.75 billion in a new and improved agency HQ in St Louis. And the industry has already had a $5 billion economic impact on that city, and that’s prior to major VC funds taking stakes in companies. We talked to Andy Dearing, president of Spatial STL Advisors, a strategic consulting firm specializing in geospatial technologies, and project lead of the GeoFutures Initiative, an industry roadmap for the broader St. Louis geospatial startup scene.
December 09, 2020
Icelandic Foreign Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson on Iceland's role in the post-covid world
Foreign Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson speaks about the imperative for "building back better" through global cooperation in the post-covid world, and offers Iceland's experience as a pioneer in renewable geothermal technology, R&D, sustainable fishing and ocean stewardship practices, and gender equality. He also shares Iceland's view on Arctic policy as the country continues its chairmanship of the Arctic Council through 2021, and how he hopes to continue Iceland's productive bilateral relationship with the U.S., after outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became the first cabinet-level U.S. envoy to visit Iceland in 11 years. Foreign Minister Þórðarson's interview was granted in connection with the online expo, "How Do I Invest In Iceland?" produced by Promote Iceland and the Consulate of Iceland in New York.
November 30, 2020
Nasdaq Iceland CEO Magnus Hardarson on a very bullish outlook for Icelandic listings
A highly successful secondary offering earlier this fall by Icelandair, a rapidly growing sustainable corporate bond market, a promising pipeline for Icelandic growth companies coming to market, the emergence of First North as a public market alternative to VC, and increasing interest from retail and institutional investors, all point to possible tailwinds for the Icelandic listed market. In connection with the upcoming virtual investment expo "How Do I Invest in Iceland?" produced by Promote Iceland and the Consulate of Iceland in New York, we spoke with Nasdaq Iceland CEO Magnus Hardarson on how the exchange--and Iceland's financial system overall--has recovered and adapted since the Great Financial Crisis, and how a transparent and regulated market has helped the country withstand the economic stresses of covid-19.
November 27, 2020
Haraldur Ingi Birgisson, Partner/Tax & Legal Leader at Deloitte Iceland, on why you should definitely bring your company to Iceland
Iceland notches consistently high ratings on global business and societal indexes, and measures of competitiveness, education, human development, equality and peace. And now, you can add government tax incentives to that list. Ahead of the upcoming virtual investment expo "How Do I Invest in Iceland?" we talked to Haraldur Ingi Birgisson, Tax & Legal Leader at Deloitte Iceland, on how the country integrates Scandinavian-style social welfare and living standards with a competitive environment that encourages foreign companies to invest.
November 26, 2020
Investination CEO Oded Eliashiv on the Israeli startup scene...and a new platform for investing in Israeli startups
When this year’s covid-related social and economic disruptions put a stop to venture capital roadshows, one Israeli investment firm knew exactly what to do. They disrupted the venture capital roadshow itself. The resulting platform, Investination—a brainchild of Israeli-American real estate and technology investment firm Besadno Group—has emerged this year as a kind of “virtual roadshow” for Israeli startups in proptech (commercial real estate technology), contech (construction technology), agtech (agriculture technology), and other emerging sub-sectors. We talk to Investination CEO Oded Eliashiv about the new platform...and an unusually fertile period for Israeli innovation in real estate and construction technologies.
November 24, 2020
Veteran journalist and political insider John Ellis on the post-election U.S. outlook
John Ellis has been in around the news business (and the American political establishment) for most of his adult life, working for NBC News, the Boston Global, CNBC, Fox News Elections and Business News and Newscorp. He also served as a Senior Fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics and was a Senior Fellow at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (2002-2004), where he was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Award by the U.S. Army for his work on "Future Threats." Today he is the publisher and guiding light of News Items, a daily newsletter that covers global politics, financial news, advanced technologies and science. On Friday November 5, as election returns pointed to victory for Democratic Challenger Joe Biden, John Ellis offered his thoughts on the surprising Republican performance, recalls warning President Donald Trump about the imminent danger of covid-19 in January 2020, and talks about how private equity may be in for a rude awakening in 2021.
November 09, 2020
W.P. Carey's European director Christopher Mertlitz on investing in European real estate through sale-leasebacks
Publicly traded net-lease REIT pioneer W.P. Carey pioneered the sale-leaseback for real estate investment 50 years ago in the U.S., and has helped to grow and professionalize the European market in the decades since. We talk to their European head, Christopher Mertlitz, on the investment outlook for sale leasebacks in Europe since the onset of covid, and his firm's approach to identifying "mission-critical" assets across national borders.
November 06, 2020
FarmTogether: Tech-Powered, Fractional Investing in the World's Oldest Asset Class with Founder/CEO Artem Milinchuk
Investment startup FarmTogether, which has received backing from Franklin Templeton Legg Mason and several venture capital partners, gives accredited investors direct access to fractional ownership in U.S. farmland, a $2.5 trillion asset class traditionally owned by actual farmers or very large institutional investors. In this episode, we talk to founder and CEO Artem Milinchuk, who brings to bear more than a decade of finance experience in food, farmland and agriculture. Prior to founding FarmTogether, he was CFO/VP of Operations at Full Harvest Technology, a venture-capital-funded B2B platform for buying and selling produce. He also brings institutional knowledge, notably from the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, as well as commodity investor Sprott Resources Holdings of Canada, E&Y, and PwC. We spoke with him about FarmTogether's business model and growth plans, the future of investing in U.S. farmland and crops, trends in ag-tech, regenerative agriculture, and more.
November 05, 2020
Getting philosophical on the future of crypto assets with Bitcoin bull (and value investor) Brian Estes
Bitcoin: Political protest vote, futuristic commodity, arcane fade, environmental conundrum, or genuine portfolio hedge--it's outperformed all other asset classes in 2020 for the year to date. Brian Estes, Chief Investment Officer of Off the Chain Capital, a $40 million long-only, non-leveraged bitcoin hedge fund that has outperformed all other crypto funds, the spot price of bitcoin and the S&P 500 over the past three years, views bitcoin as a combination of many (if not all) of the above: as a scarce asset with at least as much intrinsic value as the U.S. dollar (which is to say, none). He sits down for a philosophical conversation with Investable Universe about the future of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies through the lens of value investing.
October 28, 2020
Battery expert Dr. Christina Lampe-Önnerud, CEO of Cadenza Innovation, on the future of lithium-ion technology
Dr. Christina Lampe-Önnerud, former Boston-Power CEO, founder and CEO of Cadenza Innovation, is a world-renowned expert on battery architecture and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. In March, Investable Universe spoke with Dr. Lampe-Önnerud following her address to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (and just prior to global economic lockdowns in response to the covid-19 pandemic) about the global market for EV batteries, how Cadenza Innovation is revolutionizing lithium-ion battery technology, her firm's investors, and the renewable energy imperative.
October 16, 2020
Investing in Small Modular Nuclear (SMR) Energy with NuScale Co-Founder and CTO, Dr. José Reyes
In August, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) granted its first-ever design certification of a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) designed by Oregon-based NuScale power. This regulatory milestone--a key safety certification to commercializing and deploying the technology for clean energy production in the U.S. and globally--comes after a rigorous and costly multi-year process that was largely supported by NuScale's corporate backer, Fluor Corporation. We talked with NuScale's co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, José N. Reyes, PhD, a pioneer in next-generation nuclear engineering who actually designed the NuScale SMR, about what NRC certification means to NuScale's ability to enter new markets and draw new investors, nuclear energy's role in the renewables transition, and emerging new areas of application, such as space technology.
October 02, 2020
Investing in the U.S. Farmland Market with UBS Asset Management's Jim McCandless
The global farmland market has been valued at $9 trillion, $2.5 trillion of which is situated in the United States. While institutional ownership by pension funds and other long-term investors has been on the rise in recent decades, the majority of U.S. farms are still owned (as has long been the case) by farmers. Will this change as new technologies, global investors, and changing farmer demographics enter the mix? We talk to Jim McCandless, Head of Farmland, Real Estate and Private Markets at UBS, a firm with $1.6 billion in AUM invested in 228,000 U.S. farmland acres. He shares his insights on the dynamics of the U.S. farmland market, durable farmland investing, how to construct a crop portfolio and UBS's involvement with a pioneering new ESG program for farm management, Leading Harvest.
September 25, 2020
Metals and mining mastermind Ed Meir of Commodity Research Group talks nickel
Nickel--a scarce and environmentally burdensome metal that is needed for EV car batteries-- has become a headline commodity of late. Prices spiked earlier this summer when Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised a "giant" contract to any firm that could mine nickel efficiently and sustainably. His challenge gave weight to more recent market chatter that Tesla might be in talks with Canadian miner Giga Metals to secure a reliable North American source for the nickel it urgently needs. In advance of Tesla's upcoming 2020 Battery Day event, we talk to Ed Meir of Commodity Research Group for perspectives on nickel and other industrial metals as many parts of the globe continue to struggle with the challenges of covid-19.
September 18, 2020
Investing in Natural Capital with Pollination Founding Partner Martijn Wilder and Partner John Morton
In August, HSBC announced a new joint venture with climate impact advisory and "natural capital" investment group Pollination. The two firms will join forces to launch family of funds giving investors opportunities to invest directly in global sustainability initiatives around the original "real assets"--land, air, water and biosphere. On this episode, we talk about the challenge and opportunity of natural capital with Pollination Founding Partner Martijn Wilder, a pioneer in global climate law, and partner John Morton, former White House Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change at the National Security Council.
September 10, 2020
Fasset Founder Mohammad Raafi Hossain on the Future of Global Infrastructure Investment
A bold new fin-tech disruptor, London-based Fasset, says fractional ownership and tokenization of infrastructure assets like bridges, roads, and energy assets could kickstart sustainable infrastructure growth in developing economies, which will need to invest some $2 trillion per year over the next 15 years just to keep pace with projected GDP growth.
September 02, 2020
AcreTrader CEO Carter Malloy on the future of U.S. farmland investment
U.S. farmland investment has historically yielded impressive returns and been a reliable portfolio diversifier. But it’s been prohibitively expensive and for all but institutional investors to access. A new venture capital-funded platform, AcreTrader, hopes to change that dynamic, by making farm investment more broadly accessible to investors through fractional ownership. The firm’s founder and CEO, Carter Malloy, talks to Investable Universe about how new funding mechanisms can enhance U.S. farms’ access to capital, and about his journey from Arkansas farm child to long-short equity fund investor, and back to agricultural finance entrepreneurship.
January 31, 2020
Solidia Technologies CEO Tom Schuler on recasting the global cement and concrete industries
For the past decade, Solidia Technologies, a New Jersey-based, VC-funded cement and concrete technology company, has been hard at work addressing construction’s shoddy environmental record by looking deeper at the industry’s global resource footprint. CEO Tom Schuler speaks with the podcast on why rethinking water and energy consumption is just as critical to the industry's future as are CO2 considerations, as well as the firm's international expansion.
December 20, 2019
"Intelligent commodities:" XCHG CEO Joe Madden on the future of the global commodities market
Joe Madden, CEO of San Francisco-based commodity technology firm XCHG, says metadata about the source and characteristics of commodities like natural gas may be just as valuable--and tradable--to downstream clients and investors as the actual commodities are today.
December 13, 2019
Andy Lebow of Commodity Research Group on the geopolitical outlook for oil
Oil prices normalized rapidly after last month's drone attack on Saudi oil facilities...but the geopolitical outlook remains dicey. Commodity Research Group oil analyst Andy Lebow offers insights on whether low oil prices will last in a time of Middle East wild cards.
October 18, 2019
Teucrium Trading's Sal Gilbertie on grains as a portfolio diversifier
Lower historical correlations with other commodities, as well as stocks and bonds, make grains a compelling portfolio stabilizer. We talked to Sal Gilbertie of Teucrium Trading LLC, the firm that brought single-commodity agricultural ETFs to the floor of the NYSE, on why not even the trade war can touch the case for grains/
September 27, 2019
Ash Zandieh on venture capital's affinity for prop tech
Technology has made its way into the multi-trillion dollar commercial real estate market, and venture capital investors have taken notice. Here to discuss trends in prop tech funding is Ash Zandieh, chief intelligence office of CRETech in New York City.
August 27, 2019
Nat gas trader John Woods on risk/reward in natural gas.
Summer 2019 has been a rough go in the always-volatile market for natural gas, with lower price lows and record market shorts.. But we're going long into the weekend with avowed nat-gas bull John Woods, who joins the podcast to explain why he thinks that prices have found a floor.
August 23, 2019
"Trade war technicals" in the FX market with Crosscurrents Investment Advisory's Keith Raphael
Evidence of U.S. /China trade tensions is materializing across currency markets: "safe haven" currencies as well as more volatile "commodity currencies" viewed as proxies for China demand. Here to talk about "elevated risk across all time zones" is Crosscurrents' Investment Advisory President Keith Raphael.
August 22, 2019
Commodity Research Group's Ed Meir on the Metals Market
Ed Meir of Commodity Research Group and INTL FC Stone speaks to Investable Universe about the global market for industrial and precious metals. We talk the current weakness in iron ore, the China outlook, why nickel is "doing its own thing," and hear Ed's fascinating take on what might be ahead for gold and silver prices.
August 21, 2019