March 15th - This Week in Alternative Investments

This issue is brought to you by RYSE, where you can become an angel investor in a private market deal.


Bite-sized market updates

  • Global art sales are falling

  • Bitcoin ETF daily inflows top $1 billion

  • Startup headcount declined in 2023

  • Goldman’s $300 billion private credit bet

  • The rarest U.S. stamp ever

Plus: Satoshi’s identity stays unknown, housing supply is up, the TikTok “ban,” and more.


$67,201 (-0.3% weekly)
Liv-Ex Fine Wine 1000
400 (-1.2% monthly)
Thomson-Reuters VC Index
17,996.54 (-0.5% weekly)
Green Street CPPI
121.8 (unchanged)


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Market Updates

(Art Basel/UBS)

Total sales in the global art market dropped 4% to $65 billion in 2023. This is one of many valuable insights in the annual Art Basel/UBS Art Market Report, which was released this week. While the value of sales were down, the total volume of sales was up, and online sales actually rose by 7%, showing the market is growing at lower price points. There is for optimism at higher price points, as 77% of high-net-worth collectors have a positive view of the market heading into 2024. The report, which is worth reading in full, also breaks down results by era of art. For example, Post-War and Contemporary still accounts for over half the market, and 30% of the value there came from artworks created in the past twenty years, showing the potential in modern and still-living artists.

Daily net inflows for spot Bitcoin ETFs topped $1 billion for the first time. This pushed the total inflows above $11 billion (around 1% of the total market cap) since the spot ETFs launched in January, with daily numbers rising as the cryptocurrency receives more mainstream interest. Thus far, the ETFs have produced more demand than expected and have been a boon to the market since their introduction. Due in large part to this buy-side pressure, Bitcoin hit another all-time high this week, reaching above $73,800, but fell back today to last week’s levels of around $67,000.


VC-backed startups saw a net workforce contraction in 2023. A new report from Carta showed that there were more departures from startups than new hires for the first time in at least five years. Hiring was cut in half last year, and nearly a third of employees hired since 2022 have already left their companies. Salaries declined slightly, but equity grants fell precipitously, as hiring has become less competitive. This all comes as startups have had to deal with a difficult fundraising environment, forcing companies to lower their spending. There was some good news, as layoffs, which peaked in January, declined as 2023 progressed, perhaps a sign of the market stabilizing.

Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs is aiming for a $300 billion private credit portfolio. They are looking to more than double its current $130 billion level within the next five years and devote a third of its alternative investment strategy to the asset class. Other banks such as Morgan Stanley (aiming to double its portfolio to $50 billion), JPMorgan Chase ($10 billion), Wells Fargo and Citigroup have been targeting the private credit market as well. While the market is booming, competition may see returns decline as borrowers have more options.

Smart Humans Podcast

In this episode, Slava Rubin talks with DealMaker's Rebecca Kacaba about investing into private markets and powering equity crowdfunding


The 1868 one-cent “Z-grill” stamp (Robert Siegel Auctions)

  • The only known privately-owned 1868 one-cent “Z-grill” stamp is coming up for auction in June, and is expected to sell for over $4 million, which would make it the most expensive U.S. stamp ever sold.

  • The CPI report showed a 3.2% yearly increase in February, slightly higher than projections, and well above the Fed’s 2% goal, meaning that interest rate cuts, which would be beneficial to many alternative asset classes, may be delayed further.

  • A U.K. judge ruled that Craig Wright is not the pseudonymous Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto - whose identity is still unknown - preventing him from claiming any rights to the cryptocurrency’s blockchain.

  • Housing supply hit a four-year high as a flood of new listings hit the market, with multiple reports showing double-digit inventory growth - a step in the right direction for buyers.

  • The U.S. House passed a bill that would force TikTok parent company ByteDance to divest its holdings in the social media platform, or the app would be banned if the bill eventually becomes law.

  • In May, former F1 World Champion Jody Scheckter will be selling his collection of 12 race cars, which includes a 1979 Ferrari 312 T4 with an estimated value of €6.5 million.

  • Social media giant Reddit set its IPO date for March 21, and is planning to sell around $750 million of shares at a $6.4 billion valuation.

  • A whiskey writer and an industry consultant have launched Protect Your Cask, a organization to protect people from fraud in whiskey cask investing.

  • Want to invest in clean energy? The New River Solar Project, an affiliate of Energy Shares, is now open for funding. When you invest early, you are rewarded additional units.**

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