news: sea shell, a new Seattle fintech startup that says it can offer up to 10% interest to users, raised a $6 million seed round co-led by top Silicon Valley firms Khosla Ventures and Kindred Ventures. Other supporters include Mark Cuban of Shark Tank; Robinhood co-founder and CEO Vlad Tenev; Coinbase Ventures; longtime tech startup investor Elad Gill; and former CFTC chairman J. Christopher “Crypto Dad” Giancarlo.
Ideal: Seashell is taking on traditional banks by giving consumers an easy way to generate higher yields. It takes cash from users and invests it in safe haven assets such as gold and “dollar-linked digital assets”. The idea is that Seashell will attract borrowers who pay higher interest charges, thus creating higher yields for its users than incumbents. The 15-person company makes money by sharing the profits they get back to the users.
yes but: Seashell is not FDIC-insured, and there is a risk that users could lose their investment. The company states that it only invests in “highly stable and highly collateralized tangible and digital assets.”
Philip Bond, a professor of finance and business economics at the University of Washington, said that while Seashell looks like a mutual fund, it invests in different types of assets than publicly traded financial assets.
“Seashell just appears to be a special type of investment fund that’s being marketed almost as if it’s a bank,” Bond said.
Hock said Seashell is not a bank — at least not yet. He described Seashell’s investment model as “a very secure system”.
founded by: Hawke graduated from Yale with degrees in economics and psychology. He worked at FiscalNote, an information services startup, before joining blockchain security startup CertiK. This is where he realized how people interested in crypto were paying higher rates for loans, and saw an opportunity to launch Seashell.
Hawk said with increasing inflation rate- now at 7%, the biggest increase since 1982 – this is an opportune time for something like Seashell, which has bank interest rates below 1%.
“Smart savers should strongly consider using Seashells as a simple solution to beat rising prices,” Cuba said in a statement.
the headquarters: Hawke, who grew up in Southern California, relocated from New York City to Seattle during the pandemic. He wanted to live on the West Coast but didn’t own a car (so, not Los Angeles) and wanted to avoid the Bay Area.
He has been impressed by the engineering talent available in the Seattle area, which also has a booming fintech scene. “It rains a lot, people weren’t kidding about that,” Hock said. But he added: “The views are beautiful.”