Yesterday’s approval of multiple spot Bitcoin ETFs by the U.S. SEC has sparked a unique battle among asset managers to attract investors.

The ‘Laser Eyes’ Meme

The “laser eyes” meme in the context of cryptocurrency is a social media trend where individuals, especially crypto enthusiasts, edit their profile pictures to include red laser beams coming out of their eyes. This meme has become a symbol within the crypto community, particularly among supporters of Bitcoin. Here are some key aspects of this trend:

  1. Origins and Symbolism: The laser eyes meme is believed to have originated in early 2021 among Bitcoin supporters. The red laser eyes are intended to symbolize a laser-focused attitude toward driving the price of Bitcoin to higher thresholds, such as $100,000. It’s a form of digital rallying cry or a show of bullish sentiment about the future value of Bitcoin.
  2. Adoption by Public Figures: The meme gained significant traction when it was adopted by prominent figures in the cryptocurrency space and even by some politicians and celebrities. This widespread adoption helped popularize the meme and associate it with a general positive sentiment towards Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
  3. Community and Identity: For many in the crypto world, adding laser eyes to their profile picture is a way to identify themselves as part of the cryptocurrency community. It’s a form of digital camaraderie and shared belief in the potential of Bitcoin and the broader crypto market.
  4. Campaign for Price Milestones: Often, individuals who participate in this trend set a goal (like Bitcoin reaching $100,000) and pledge to keep their laser eyes until that price target is achieved.
  5. Meme Culture in Crypto: The laser eyes meme is an example of how meme culture has become an integral part of the cryptocurrency community. Memes are often used to express shared beliefs, goals, and sentiments in a way that’s both humorous and impactful.
  6. Criticism and Skepticism: While many in the crypto community embrace the laser eyes meme, others view it with skepticism or as overly speculative. Critics might see it as emblematic of irrational exuberance in the crypto market.

Franklin Templeton’s Nod to Crypto Culture

Franklin Resources, Inc. (Franklin Templeton) (NYSE: BEN), which yesterday reported preliminary month-end assets under management (AUM) of $1.46 trillion on 31 December 2023, has joined the fray with its spot Bitcoin ETF.

Franklin Templeton is a global investment management organization known for its mutual funds and investment services. It was founded in New York in 1947 by Rupert H. Johnson, Sr., and named after American polymath Benjamin Franklin, reflecting the company’s emphasis on frugality and conservatism in investment.

Over the decades, Franklin Templeton has grown into one of the world’s largest asset managers, offering a wide range of investment and advisory services to individuals, institutions, and financial professionals in many countries. The company provides solutions across various asset classes, including equities, fixed income, alternatives, and multi-asset strategies.

In a nod to crypto culture, the company updated its social media avatar by adding laser eyes to the image of Ben Franklin. This move is seen as an effort to appeal to crypto-natives and shake off the company’s traditional image.

Competitive Strategies Among Issuers

With about a dozen Bitcoin ETFs set to enter the market from Wall Street titans like BlackRock, Fidelity, Invesco, and Franklin Templeton, differentiation has become crucial. Companies are slashing fees, with some offering their products initially free of charge.

However, aligning with crypto culture represents a less traditional but potentially effective strategy.

Franklin Templeton’s Blockchain Ambitions

At the Fortune Global Forum in Abu Dhabi, Jenny Johnson, President and CEO of Franklin Templeton, discussed with Anna Tutova, CEO of Coinstelegram, the company’s journey and its foray into blockchain and cryptocurrency with Anna Tutova of Coinstelegram. Franklin Templeton, established in 1947 in New York and named after Benjamin Franklin, has grown from a small brokerage to a global investment management giant, managing over $1.3 trillion. The company is known for its diverse investment services, including mutual funds, equities, and fixed income strategies.

Johnson highlighted Franklin Templeton’s exploration of blockchain technology, notably filing for a Franklin Bitcoin ETF. She distinguished between Bitcoin and blockchain, seeing the latter as a means to democratize private markets and improve transactional efficiency. Blockchain, according to Johnson, could revolutionize nontraditional asset classes and enhance existing financial products’ efficiency. She mentioned Franklin Templeton’s development of a tokenized money-market fund and a blockchain-based shareholder recordkeeping system, underscoring blockchain’s potential to reduce fraud and latency in financial systems.

She commented on the potential U.S. approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF, noting regulatory focus on consumer protection and the challenges of anchoring an investment thesis. Johnson, who personally invests in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, SushiSwap, and Uniswap, views these investments as a minor portion of her portfolio.

Johnson indicated Franklin Templeton’s readiness to offer blockchain or crypto-related products as per the decisions of retirement plan fiduciaries, emphasizing blockchain as a medium for delivering active, risk-adjusted investment decisions. She mentioned the success of the company’s U.S. tokenized money-market fund, which has attracted over $270 million in inflows, and anticipates more opportunities as blockchain technology evolves. While recognizing potential in certain NFT investments, she advised caution, comparing some NFT market aspects to art valuation.

VanEck and Bitwise’s Unique Approaches

VanEck, another asset manager competing in the Bitcoin ETF space, is going beyond cosmetic changes. The company has pledged to donate 5% of the profits from its Bitcoin ETF to support the development of the Bitcoin blockchain. Similarly, Bitwise, with its roots in crypto, announced it would give 10% of its profits for the same purpose. These contributions signify a deeper commitment to the crypto ecosystem beyond mere product offerings.

Featured Image via Pixabay