Alex Pack, a former managing partner at crypto investment firm Dragonfly Capital, has joined Huobi Group as a corporate investment advisor to help the firm behind the world’s top centralized exchange by derivatives trading volumes to invest in decentralized finance, of DeFi.
“When I left DragonFly earlier this year, Huobi was also ramping up its internationalization efforts and its corporate investment practice,” Pack told CoinDesk in an interview. “I thought Huobi has the potential to be one of the most impactful companies in crypto. When I was approached by my old friends there to help them, I thought it was a no-brainer.”
Pack’s new role at Huobi will largely focus on expanding Huobi’s stakes in DeFi projects in Western countries, after Huobi’s newly launched venture investment arm began pouring money into DeFi projects in Asia. He told CoinDesk he and Huobi are willing to spend up to “tens of millions of dollars” funds to support new DeFi projects.
In his previous role at DragonFly, Pack was an early-stage investor of many significant crypto projects including DeFi protocols MakerDAO and Compound Finance. He left the crypto investment firm in April, citing “a difference in vision on the direction of the firm,” though he stayed on as a part-time venture partner.
Huobi, along with other centralized crypto exchange giants, is rushing to reposition itself as an integral part of the exploding DeFi sector. Those semi-decentralized, blockchain-based lending and trading platforms have accumulated more than $10 billion in total value locked, most of which has occurred since the start of the second half of 2020.
Unlike Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volumes, which has built a public decentralized blockchain to help support DeFi projects, the company behind the Huobi exchange has been focused more on incubating DeFi projects by funding, research and leveraging its established user base.
“Today there are two things: ‘CeFi’ [centralized finance] and ‘DeFi,’ in crypto parlance,” Pack said. “In the next 10 years, I think they will merge … and you will see companies that have wallets – Huobi already has a large wallet – do decentralized exchanges and decentralized versions of everything they offer. And you will see decentralized finance grow and mirror many of the aspects of centralized finance exchanges as well.”
“Huobi is one of the largest entities so it is in a perfect position to help this merging happen,” he added.
While current DeFi projects are still mostly centered around lending protocols and stablecoins, Pack said the particular type of DeFi projects he will initially look at are those that build synthetic assets on blockchains.
“The most interesting thing next that we are going to see are things in particular like synthetic assets, the ability to make a derivative or a synthetic version of anything: a stock, a bond, an entire fixed income space,” Pack said, “and then more products that support security, like insurance products, that makes it more trustworthy to enter into DeFi.”
Pack went quiet after he left Dragonfly Capital earlier this year. According to Pack, Huobi’s strong presence in Asia is also part of the reason why he decided to join.
“The most users and the most business model information and infrastructures are in Asia,” he said. “And yet, by far, the most interesting technology and the new frontier things are happening in the West. And I’ve always tried to be a bridge between those two areas.”