Dear Cake Group customers, colleagues, partners and crypto enthusiasts,
It is my pleasure to share an overview of our Group for the second half of 2023. This report will provide an overarching perspective on markets, business performance, and key initiatives across each of the verticals.
In summary, H2 of 2023 should be viewed as one of transformation at Cake Group. We have taken several important decisions to best position our company and customers to capture the coming wave of crypto growth. Highlights for this half include the biggest update in the Bake App’s history, the roll-out of the EVM-compatible MetaChain Layer on DeFiChain, and a series of events to meet with our customers, partners, and friends. Notable meetups included Token 2049 (Singapore) and the community-powered DevHack Hackathon (Bangalore). Market Overview
In H2 2023, global financial markets experienced several challenges that impacted crypto. Recession fears caused sell-offs in traditional markets, while fears of potential central bank policy changes, coupled with concerns about sticky inflation, led to market volatility. In my opinion, these events serve as a timely reminder of crypto's role in hedging against risk and economic uncertainty. In spite of this, we moved into Q4 with a renewed sense of optimism supported by the industry-wide positive sentiment of bitcoin surpassing $44,000 in December, up from approximately $30,000 at the beginning of H2.
Here is a summary of the key happenings with the three cryptocurrencies held by most customers on our platform:
- Bitcoin: Spot ETF HopiumThe anticipation of a Bitcoin Spot ETF continues to fuel excitement, with the promise of increased institutional demand for Bitcoin to act as a catalyst for a price rally. While regulatory approval remained elusive in H2, the prospect of an approval in the coming weeks or months keeps the Bitcoin community engaged and optimistic. I view the Spot ETF as a potential game-changer for the market.
- Ether: Futures ETF Disappointment Despite market expectations riding high, Ethereum enthusiasts were disappointed in H2 with no approval of Spot ETF contracts. While the market hoped for a rally, which could have mirrored Bitcoin's 2021 surge after the introduction of futures contracts, regulatory hurdles and concerns about the impact on Ethereum's underlying market dynamics led to disappointment - at least for the time being. Nonetheless, Ether rallied to above $2,300 in December.
- DeFiChain: MetaChain Layer rollout and formation of DeFiChain LabsAlthough Q3 was earmarked for the rollout of the MetaChain Layer, the most significant hard fork in DeFiChain’s history - technical concerns resulted in an extended testing period before a delayed rollout in Q4. Although frustrating, speed was de-risked in favor of a successful rollout and implementation. Since the successful rollout, we have seen a hive of new activity on MetaChain, as well as a hugely successful Hackathon in Bangalore with prizes of $25,000 awarded.
H2 2023 represents a significant turning point for our Group. Our business transformation has been centered around four specific goals:
- Redesigning products to enable our customers to capture the next wave of crypto growth
- Refocusing resources on core business-driving activities
- Rightsizing teams to manage and optimize operational costs and sustainability
- Restructuring organizational leadership to guarantee future strategic alignment (ongoing)
While restructuring is ongoing, most of the pieces have now fallen into place, and I look forward with great optimism to what lies ahead in 2024. From a performance perspective, H2 business results are below our expectations. In many respects, this is unsurprising, given the increased focus on building and shipping new products. In particular, two primary factors contributed to this outcome:
- Our cost, despite decreasing, was still too high - mainly due to innovation investments in proof-of-concept experiments.
- Our revenue, while increasing, was too low to justify costs.
One key step towards resolving our operational costs was the difficult decision we took to “right size” the company in Q4 by reducing our team size by approximately 50 team members. As painful as a decision, we are now in a stronger position moving forward. In fact, we are on target to reach our goal of reducing operational expenditure by approximately 50% while progressing toward revenue goals.
Furthermore, thanks to the team's persistent efforts, we have successfully secured numerous new banking relationships, thereby broadening our financial network and diversifying our risk exposure. Importantly, we have also passed our Audit for 2022. On the regulatory side, we continue to explore various licenses, which will give our customers and partners further assurances. I would also like to address the restructuring of organizational leadership at Cake Group. Without delving into private matters between myself and U-Zyn - in essence - differences of opinion in the company’s strategic direction emerged this year. While discussions are ongoing, my role as CEO remains unchanged, and I confirm my 100% commitment to the Cake Group today and in the future. The financial position of our company remains strong, as verified by our latest financial filing in Singapore (with ACRA). Customer funds are backed 1:1, and as ever, customers are able to verify Proof of Reserves at any time with Bake.
With a renewed focus on core business, we will continue to support each of our verticals:
For Bake, in support of our vision of a financial marketplace for digital assets, we are rolling out an evolved App experience to all customers in Q4, which will enable them to Discover and Act on the big ideas moving markets and then Grow their portfolio leveraging our yield and recurring buys products. As a business, the primary focus will be on generating revenue by following Bake’s mission of leveling the crypto playing field. There are so many exciting opportunities available, and it is imperative that Bake plays a more proactive role in providing our customers with access to them. During H2 of 20223, we introduced several new services, including: Recurring Buys (Dollar-Cost-Averaging), Staking for $ADA, $NEAR, $SUI, and $DOT, as well as new Liquidity Mining Pools. Very shortly, we will introduce AlphaDesk, which offers insights and early access to ELITE customers as well as new ways for all customers to pay: including Apple and Google Pay, as well as Bank Transfer.
Cake Group’s unwavering commitment to supporting the DeFiChain ecosystem remains. The spin-out of DeFiChain Labs as a fully independent entity is planned for Q1 2024, and we are prepared to provide support during this transition. While this will empower DeFiChain to truly be independent, Cake Group will continue to provide donations to support open-source efforts. The Hackathon in Bangalore was an absolute highlight of the year, with many new builders being welcomed to build capstone projects on the DeFiChain ecosystem.
Levain’s focus will be on servicing Bake for its fast-moving crypto efforts while supporting new crypto companies, including startups, with their blockchain needs. In H2, the team made significant progress on the product covering a self-custody wallet, APIs & SDKs, Dashboard and Marketplace. The team also deployed self-serve functionality, giving simplified access, and it was exciting to witness the first business customers being on-boarded to Levain.
Whisk Ventures will be focused on preserving cash to help us maintain financial stability. Our investment into Ordinals Marketplace Ordzaar has captured the imagination of many builders on Bitcoin, and the Ordzaar platform and community continue to go from strength to strength. We will explore making investments in MetaChain tokens and various other crypto projects.
For the business overall, the focus must be on cost management, revenue generation, and effective processes to ensure that each vertical contributes to the long-term sustainability and growth of the organization. Additionally, we intend to explore new, diverse revenue streams across all verticals to help mitigate risks and enhance the financial stability of the entire Cake Group.
I look forward to Q1 2024 with great optimism - in fact, I would anticipate it looks to be our best quarter yet, and here’s why:
- The release of the two biggest updates to our ecosystem since the inception of our business and the next evolution of the Bake App.
- The deployment of the MetaChain Layer on DeFiChain marks a historic milestone, attracting many new innovative projects.
These two important developments enable teams to laser-focus their attention on core business and revenue-driving activities while maintaining our commitment to an innovation agenda within the crypto and blockchain space.
I am excited the new Bake App will provide our loyal customers with simple access to new assets, products, and services, enabling them to capture the next wave of crypto growth. After all, our business only succeeds when our customers succeed.
As crypto markets start showing signs of what could lead to the next bull run, and with a Bitcoin Halving right around the corner, I am confident that our efforts in H2 2023 will lay the foundation for success in 2024. Embodying the startup spirit, we will set new ambitious targets and prioritize ‘right-sized’ teams on our most impactful initiatives.
All that remains to say is a heartfelt thank you to our customers, colleagues, and partners for your loyalty, support, and resilience. It is a pleasure to be on this journey with you, which I intend to make last for many years to come!
CEO & Co-Founder | Cake Group | Bake