Niclas Schermann

Doctoral Students

Curriculum Vitae

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Ausgewählte Publikationen

Decentralized finance, crypto funds, and value creation in tokenized firms

Douglas Cumming, Wolfgang Drobetz, Paul P. Momtaz, Niclas Schermann
HFRC Working Paper Series | Version 05/2022
Crypto Funds (CFs) represent a novel investor type in entrepreneurial finance. CFs intermediate Decentralized Finance (DeFi) markets by pooling contributions from crowd-investors and investing in tokenized startups, combining sophisticated venture- and hedge-style investment strategies. We compile a unique dataset combining token-based crowdfunding (or Initial Coin Offerings, ICOs) data with proprietary performance data of CFs. CF-backed startup ventures obtain higher ICO valuations, outperform their peers in the long run, and benefit from token price appreciation around CF investment disclosure in the secondary market. Moreover, CFs beat the market by roughly 2.5% per month. Their outperformance is persistent, suggesting that CFs deliver abnormal returns because of skill, rather than luck. These performance effects for CFs and CF-backed startups are driven by a fund’s investor network centrality. Overall, our study paves the way for research on what some refer to as the “crypto fund revolution” in entrepreneurial finance.

Financing decentralized digital platform growth: The role of crypto funds in blockchain-based startups

Douglas Cumming, Wolfgang Drobetz, Paul P. Momtaz, Niclas Schermann
HFRC Working Paper Series | Version 04/2024
Coordination frictions may prevent the efficient adoption and governance of digital platforms. We document that crypto funds (CFs) create value, inter alia, by smoothing such frictions on blockchain-based decentralized digital platforms (DDPs). CF-backed DDPs obtain higher valuations in the primary market (i.e., in initial coin offerings, ICOs), outperform their peers post ICO, and benefit from token price appreciation around CF investment disclosure in the secondary market. In line with our theory, primary transaction data from the Ethereum ledger shows that the valuations of DDPs with meager adoption and relative centralization benefit more from CF backing. Moreover, the positive valuation and performance effects for CF-backed DDPs are higher for CFs with more central investor networks.

Performance measurement of crypto funds

Wolfgang Drobetz, Paul P. Momtaz, Niclas Schermann
Economics Letters | 04/2023
Crypto funds (CFs) are a growing intermediary in cryptocurrency markets. We evaluate CF performance using metrics based on alphas, value at risk, lower partial moments, and maximum drawdown. The performance of actively managed CFs is heterogeneous: While the average fund in our sample does not outperform the overall cryptocurrency market, there seem to be some few funds with superior skills. Given the non-normal nature of fund returns, the choice of the performance measure affects the rank orders of funds. Compared to the Sharpe ratio, the most commonly applied metric in the asset management practice, performance measures based on alphas and maximum drawdown lead to diverging fund rankings. Depending on their ranking order of preferences, CF investors should consider a bundle of metrics for fund selection and performance measurement.

Token-based crowdfunding: Investor choice and the optimal timing of initial coin offerings (ICOs)

Wolfgang Drobetz, Lars Hornuf, Paul P. Momtaz, Niclas Schermann
Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice | 06/2024
This paper examines the operating and financial performance of venture firms conducting initial coin offerings (ICOs) with different types of investors and at different points along a venture’s life-cycle. Relative to purely crowdfunded ICO ventures, institutional investor-backed ICO ventures exhibit weaker operating performance and fail earlier. However, conditional on survival, these ventures financially outperform their peers that do not receive institutional investor support. The diverging effects of investor backing on financial and operating performance are consistent with our theory of "certification exploitation" through a new form of pump-and-dump scheme. Institutional investors exploit their reputation to drive up ICO valuations and quickly exit the venture post-ICO, with the difference in pre- versus post-certification token prices being their exploitation profit in liquid markets for startups. Our findings further indicate that there is an inverted U-shaped relationship between the financial success of an ICO and the timing along a venture’s life-cycle, with the product piloting phase representing the pivotal point.