Olaf Carlson-Wee founded Polychain in 2016, and also acts as the company’s CEO. Polychain is a hedge fund focused on investments in blockchain-based assets. Carlson-Wee is also the managing member of Cryptographic Financial, a limited partnership in a fund operated by Numerai, a hedge fund firm whose capital is run by artificial intelligence.
Carlson-Wee is a strong advocate for bitcoin. In a 2017 interview by Forbes he disclosed that he first heard about bitcoin in 2011 and decided to write his sociology thesis on the cryptocurrency. When bitcoin’s price crashed Carlson continued to work on his project, even after his professors at Vassar College questioned the piece following bitcoin’s recent developments.
Carlson-Wee emailed his thesis to CoinBase where he then earned a job. He worked for CoinBase as the head of risk and product manager from 2013 to 2016. He requested that his paycheque be distributed to him in bitcoin and became one of the first people to earn and spend nearly exclusively in digital currency. While he was still at CoinBase he helped the company regulate their customer service responses and generated a test on bitcoin for new applicants. He hired eight applicants during his time there. Before leaving CoinBase to found Polychain, Carlson-Wee also lowered CoinBase’s fraud rate by 75% through AI algorithms.
Carlson-Wee has been living on bitcoin as much as he can for years. Predicting that the digital currency was going to expand, he made the switch in 2012 to get a jump on the market early.