ICO Analysis: Sharpe Capital

Sharpe Capital is primarily an investment company whose core product is creating multiple approaches to understanding the market dynamics of both equities and blockchain assets. The multiple approaches to understanding market dynamics include sentiment analysis, quantitative trading, machine learning, AI and linguistic analysis.

Analysts at existing hedge funds/investment funds rely on quantitative and fundamental trading models where the value of an asset is tied to its micro and macroeconomic performance. Analysts hope that the trading value of the asset will converge on its “intrinsic value” over time and earn them returns on undervalued assets. Intrinsic value is the value that the analysts calculate based on various economic indicators. Readers familiar with investment analysis will understand these concepts with ease.

However, generating returns based on the calculated search of intrinsic values of undervalued assets is not so easy. Investor sentiment plays a huge role in asset valuation resulting in asset prices consistently diverging from their intrinsic values. For example, Tesla has higher market capitalization than Ford, but does it deserve that high a valuation? In my opinion, no! But investor sentiment is very positive towards Tesla, resulting in its higher market cap.

So, how do you gauge investor sentiment? This is where Sharpe Capital comes in.

From the perspective of a user who visits Sharpe Capital for the first time, the platform pays Ether for his views on a particular asset. The user is given recent updates about the assets and his opinion is asked. A user’s opinion carries weight based on his previous responses (a reputation system) and the amount of SHP token holding. The payouts on correct opinion will be given accordingly. Opinions of hundreds of thousands of users are evaluated to gauge the overall sentiment about the asset.

Sharpe Capital’s investment analysis methodology is not just sentiment analysis, but also takes into consideration a host of factors like fundamental analysis (macro, micro indicators), linguistic analysis (sentiments, emotions, contextual framing from blogs, twitter feeds, etc.), and machine learning (continuous learning from past experiences).

Sharpe Capital will feed this information into its proprietary investment fund, whose returns will be distributed among all token holders.

The data generated from sentiment analysis and the linguistic analysis will be sold to buyers like investment funds and researchers.

Sharpe Capital is also creating internal auditing tools and enterprise-grade blockchain solutions for hedge funds and corporate clients for transparency and accountability.

Token

The SHP token will serve several functions on Sharpe Capital’s platform. The SHP tokens will give access to the users to earn rewards in ether by voting on bullish versus bearish sentiment of an asset on the Sharpe Capital sentiment platform.

Hedge funds and institutional investors will be able to access information within Sharpe Capital’s Quantitative Trading Model through SHP fees. SHP tokens will help holders participate in governance for Sharpe Capital.

Looking ahead, as regulatory clarity emerges, Sharpe Capital will issue SCDs (Sharpe Crypto Derivatives), a cryptocurrency token that will be tied to the firm’s proprietary investment fund. Holders of SCDs will be entitled to receive dividends from the proprietary fund.

SCDs will have bi-annual Ethereum payouts and will be distributed 1:1 with SHP at a later date.

The ICO began on 13th November and will last until 5th February 2018. The minimum contribution will be $100. The SHP token is valued at 2000 SHPs for 1 ETH. For each 2,000 SHP issued, an additional 2,000 SHP will be held in reserve for future fundraising and an additional 1,000 will be distributed to Sharpe Capital founders and community members for coming platform development for a total distribution of 5,000 SHP for 1 ETH. There is a hard cap of $20 mn for the raise.

40% of the funds raised will be used for the investment fund, while 20% for development and operations.

The bonus structure begins only after $1,500 contributions. You can check out the details here.

Team

According to the company, “The Sharpe Capital team is comprised of a diverse group of experts across the fields of quantitative modeling, financial engineering, linguistic analysis, international law & regulatory requirements.”

There are five members of the core team. Chief Investment Officer James Butler has a Ph.D. in complex system modeling and is responsible for overseeing the development of the Sharpe Capital Investment Platform. This platform was conceived by Butler in collaboration with CEO Lewis M. Barber.

The development of novel approaches to linguistic analysis is supported by leading linguist and anthropologist Mieke Vandenbroucke Ph.D., a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Researcher at the University of California, Berkeley who is also one of the advisers. There are five other advisers, prominent among them being Dimitri Chupryna, who is the co-founder of TaaS. TaaS will be used for extensive testing of the investment platform.

The team appears solid, with advisers from varied background. One aspect which I personally find somewhat negative is that most of the members, especially the ones developing the investment platform, belong to an academic background rather than one rooted in investment banking. I think this factor is quite relevant for this industry.

Verdict

Let me begin with how well the Whitepaper is written. The team has thought through the project well, with a detailed explanation of the Sharpe Investment Platform. Discussing the technicalities is beyond the scope of this review, but interested readers can go through the document for more information.

That being said, it is quite difficult to judge the quality of an Investment Platform or methodology without historical returns or a product version. The alpha will launch on 12th December with focus on the sentiment analysis part.

Cindicator can be considered the closest competitor, who have been working on the project since November 2014. They have an alpha version and are developing the product from insights coming in from a very active community. Sharpe Capital has some advantages in terms of product quality like the inclusion of linguistic analysis, governance; but then what is stopping a well-funded platform like Cindicator from including these in its product.
Of course, there is space for multiple competing companies, but a segment like sentiment analysis will hold value for only if the platform has thousands of users voting on the platform.

Risks

  • Sentiment analysis will not hold much value if Sharpe Capital is not able to attract enough users. Also, would hedge funds or investment funds find value in sentiments of retail speculators? -2
  • Along with Cindicator, many other companies are working on the same domain. -2
  • The investment analysis methodology although thoroughly developed is purely academic at this moment. -1
  • There are concerns whether the AI based portfolio manager can generate returns, especially in the crypto space where there is so much flux. -1

Growth Potential

  • The product is better than the competitors at this moment. +4
  • Rewards for prediction without the loss of stake is a massive incentive for users to participate on the platform. +3
  • The alpha version will be launching soon on 12th December. The alpha version launch will be a big credibility boost for the project. +2
  • Once the regulatory approvals for SCD tokens are obtained, Sharpe Capital can expand to other dividend based funds. +0.5
  • There will be demand for the enterprise-grade blockchain solutions for hedge funds and corporate clients once regulations demanding more transparency start getting hold. +1

Disposition

We arrive at a score of +4.5 out of 10 for Sharpe Capital. The score can improve +2 points depending on the reception of the alpha version once it launches on the 12th of December.

Investment Details

The ICO began on 13th November. Non-accredited US residents, Chinese and Singapore residents are restricted from the sale. You can participate in the ICO here.

Disclaimer: Writer does not hold an investment position in Sharpe Capital. 

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Author:
Aakash Kawale is a financial analyst based out of Mumbai, India. He is the lead analyst at a Singapore based organization and has extensive experience of analyzing US and Indian equities. Aakash is a strong advocate of the Blockchain technology and has been analyzing cryptocurrencies since 2015.