$95 Billion Investment Firm CEO Invests in Ether As “A Programmable Bitcoin”

$95 Billion Investment Firm CEO, Barry Sternlicht, Invests in Ethereum As “A Programmable Bitcoin”

Billionaire Barry Sternlicht revealed this week that he owns the top cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH), due to the excessive amount of money-printing happening globally.

The chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group, an investment firm with $95 billion in assets under management (AUM), talked about cryptocurrencies in an interview with CNBC, where he noted that it makes sense to invest in them as a way to diversify a portfolio.

“The reason I own bitcoin is because the U.S. government, and every government in the Western Hemisphere, is printing money now to the end of time, and this is a finite amount of something and it can be traded globally.”

At the same time, he called Bitcoin a “dumb coin,” saying that its sole purpose is being a store of value, and it is crazy volatile. Here comes his second investment, Ether, which is

“a programmable Bitcoin, and there are tons of other coins built on that system.”

When asked about JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon calling Bitcoin “worthless,” Sternlicht said, “Gold is kind of worthless too” despite the precious metal having some “industrial uses.”

Additionally, Sternlicht, worth $4.4 billion, has “become very interested in blockchain technology as a whole,” which he believes is “going to change everything.”

“We’re probably in inning one.”

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Author: AnTy

Bearish Still? Coinbase CoFounder’s VC Firm Is Raising Over A Billion Dollars to Invest in Startups

Bearish Still? Coinbase CoFounder’s VC Firm Looks to Raise Over a Billion Dollars to Invest in Startups

Cryptocurrency venture capital firm Paradigm is looking to raise more than $1 billion for its new fund that will invest in startups.

The fund could weigh between $1.25 billion and $1.5 billion, first reported by CoinDesk citing an investor deck.

Co-founded by cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase’s Fred Ehsram, the firm aims to close its fundraising efforts on November 12.

Besides raising funds from its limited partners, they are also reportedly seeking a minimum general partner commitment of 1%. The firm has also been doing the rounds among family offices recently.

Additionally, the firm is hiring Matthew Mizbani of hedge fund Coatue Management as a partner. Reportedly, Mizbani, who previously worked at Morgan Stanley and Two Sigma, has been hired for the new fund.

While crypto prices are slowly moving still, money in the private market continues to flow. According to a report from Bank of America, VCs poured in $17 billion in crypto projects in the first half of 2021, “dwarfing” the $5.5 billion from the same period last year.

In Q3, another $8 billion have been injected in private investment across 423 deals.

In late June this year, VC giant Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) had also announced that it had raised a whopping $2.2 billion for its third crypto fund — the industry’s largest crypto-related fund to date.

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Author: AnTy

Wells Fargo and SoftBank Participates in Crypto Analytics Firm Elliptic’s $60M Funding Round

Wells Fargo and SoftBank Participates in Crypto Analytics Firm Elliptic’s $60M Funding Round

Elliptic, a cryptocurrency analytics firm, announced on Monday that it had raised $60 million in a Series C funding round led by Evolution Equity Partners.

Other investors included SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Wells Fargo Strategic Capital, AlbionVC, Japan’s SBI Group, Octopus Ventures, SignalFire, and Paladin Capital Group, along with the largest digital asset manager, Grayscale’s parent company Digital Currency Group.

Evolution Equity Partners founder Richard Seewald will join the board of directors of Elliptic, which was founded in 2013.

The London-based company that helps track transactions on blockchain had raised $100 million just four months back at a valuation of $4.2 billion.

The fresh capital will be used to invest in a global network and team along with continuing research and development, said the company.

Besides crypto companies, Elliptic’s clients include government agencies along with traditional financial firms and fintech.

“This fundraising round is an endorsement of the opportunity for cryptoassets in the financial industry,” said CEO Simone Maini.

As the cryptocurrency industry gains regulatory scrutiny and, as a result, companies strive to comply with anti-money laundering laws (AML), blockchain analysis companies are gaining traction.

Just last month, payments giant Mastercard signed a deal to buy CipherTrace for an undisclosed amount. Before that, in March, Chainalysis raised $100 million in a Series D round at a $2 billion valuation.

“The unique nature of crypto as a maturing asset class means there is a growing need for enterprise-grade compliance and transaction monitoring tools,” said Neil Cunha-Gomes, investor for SoftBank Investment Advisers.

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Author: AnTy

Swiss-based SEBA Bank Becomes The First Firm To Receive A Digital Asset Custodian License From Regulators

Swiss-based SEBA Bank Becomes The First Firm To Receive A Digital Asset Custodian License From Regulators

Switzerland-based SEBA Bank became the first Swiss-licensed financial institution to receive a license from regulators to offer digital assets to mutual funds in the country. The cryptocurrency-focused bank will act as a custodian to the firm enabling mutual funds to get exposure to cryptocurrencies.

In an announcement on Wednesday, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, or FINMA, announced they have granted a license, a first of its kind, to SEBA Bank, one of the leading banks dealing with digital assets in Switzerland, to offer mutual funds investments in digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. The bank will act as the custodian of the funds from institutional clients enabling them to add to their alternative investments basket.

In a phone interview, SEBA Bank CEO Guido Buehler confirmed the product would first be launched to institutional clients with retail clients in plans.

“This collective investment scheme license allows institutional clients, and then later retail clients, to invest into crypto assets on a liquid basis through fund structures.”

”It means there is now the opportunity for institutions to establish their fund structures for crypto as a liquid asset, so people can subscribe today and can sell tomorrow.”

The fintech firm launched in mid-2018 promising to offer clients the “best services in digital banking” and has since introduced digital assets and cryptocurrencies in line with the company’s vision. Having received its digital asset banking license in late 2019, the bank raised $95 million (100 million CHF) in mid-2020 in a bid to enhance its services in preparation for institutional investors.

Unlike the US and China, which are setting up strict regulations on cryptocurrency, Switzerland is leading the way in offering digital asset licenses to Swiss companies. Such ease in regulations is seeing growing interest in traditional firms hoping on to the crypto train. Recently, Swiss-bank UBS was reported exploring various alternatives to offer its wealthy clients exposure to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

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Author: Lujan Odera

VC Firm a16z Delegates Majority of its Governance Rights in DeFi Protocols

VC Firm a16z Delegates Majority of its Governance Rights in DeFi Protocols

The company is delegating well over half of its voting power in protocols like Compound, Uniswap, and Celo to primarily university organizations, crypto startups, and NPOs, along with crypto community leaders.

Venture Capitalist a16z has delegated the majority of its governance rights in decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, said the firm this week.

In its transparency report, Jeff Amico, a partner on its crypto team shared the details of the program and said it will open source all of its component parts.

“Unlike traditional companies, protocols are meant to be governed on a decentralized basis. This unlocks their core value prop (neutrality) and ensures they’ll remain open to anyone who wants to use/build on them,” said Amico on Thursday.

Early shareholders in these networks need to do what they can to help catalyze the transition to long-term community governance and token delegation, according to a16z, is one of the most effective ways to do that.

Not just delegation, the firm is calling for a “strong” form of delegation that reduces surface level concentration while optimizing for quality, diversity, engagement, and independence.

Towards this goal, the VC firm has built a formal delegation program around these principles over the last year and used it to delegate well over half of its voting power in protocols like Compound, Uniswap, and Celo to a broad network of qualified delegates.

These qualified delegates include non-profit organizations (NPOs) like Kiva and Mercy Corps; global businesses like Deutsche Telekom; crypto startups like Gauntlet, Argent, and Dharma; university organizations like Stanford Blockchain Club and Blockchain at Columbia; and community leaders like Getty Hill.

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Current a16z delegate network

This current list of its delegators, however, isn’t unchangeable as the firm says it plans to continue to build it out in terms of diversifying the types of delegates working with.

The best practice for token delegation, it said, is to delegate early, elevate community leaders, recruit outside perspectives, ensure delegate independence, and provide ongoing transparency.

A16z has opened sourced its framework for delegation so that others can adopt it as well.

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Author: AnTy

BNPL Firm Afterpay to Offer Bitcoin Purchase Option to Customers Following Acquisition by Square

BNPL Firm Afterpay to Offer Bitcoin Purchase Option to Customers Following Acquisition by Jack Dorsey’s Square

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey’s payments company Square Inc. has announced that it will purchase buy now, pay later (BNPL) firm Afterpay for $29 billion, the biggest buyout of an Australian firm.

The transaction amount is expected to be paid in all stock. As of writing, Square (SQ) has been trading at $247.26. Afterpay shareholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 0.375 shares of Square Class A common stock for each Afterpay (APT) ordinary share. Square may elect to pay 1% of the total consideration in cash, said in its official announcement.

The deal is expected to be closed in the first quarter of 2022, subject to certain conditions. Dorsey, Co-Founder, and CEO of Square said,

“Square and Afterpay have a shared purpose. We built our business to make the financial system more fair, accessible, and inclusive, and Afterpay has built a trusted brand aligned with those principles.”

The company plans to integrate Afterpay into its existing Cash App and Seller business units and offer Afterpay customers the ability to manage their payments directly in Cash App. Also, Afterpay consumers will receive the benefits of Cash App’s financing tools, including stock and Bitcoin purchases, money transfer, cash Boost, etc.

As we recently reported, another Australian BNPL firm Zip Co Ltd. is exploring the option to allow its users to trade cryptocurrencies using their Zip wallets, which was one of the most requested new product features from the company’s users. Brian Grassadonia, Lead of Square’s Cash App business said,

“The addition of Afterpay to Cash App will strengthen our growing networks of consumers around the world while supporting consumers with flexible, responsible payment options.”

By combining with Square, Afterpay also plans to accelerate its growth in the US and globally and further offer access to its new category of in-person merchants, said Anthony Eisen and Nick Molnar, Afterpay Co-Founders and Co-CEOs. They will join Square upon completion of the transaction.

Square will also appoint one Afterpay director as a member of the Square Board following the transaction’s closing.

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Author: AnTy

Australian ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Firm Looking to Allow Users to Trade Crypto on Customer Demand

Australian ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Firm Looking to Allow Users to Trade Crypto on Customer Demand

Zip Co Ltd, an Australian buy now, pay later (BNPL) firm, explores the option to allow its users to trade cryptocurrencies.

Trading in crypto using Zip digital wallets was one of most requested new product features from users, said co-founder Peter Gray on Thursday.

Zip said it would likely launch the new service in the US first and then in the next 12 months in Australia. The US is driving its fourth-quarter growth and is set to soon become its biggest market by volume.

The company’s fourth-quarter volumes and revenue doubled, with transaction volumes hitting A$1.76 billion ($1.29 billion) in the June quarter and volume at its US unit quadrupled.

Zip’s Australian user base is mature, with about 30% of adults having a BNPL account.

This attempt by Zip to go into crypto is also propelled by the company’s established competitors like Afterpay and Klarna expanding into more countries and planning new offerings like a banking app. The BNPL sector is also attracting the giants like PayPal and even Apple.

“We know our younger generation of customers seek additional products and services that are relevant to them,” Gray told Reuters. The company itself is also looking at expansion in Europe and the Middle East.

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Author: AnTy

Crypto Mining ETF Focused On Green Energy Launches On NYSE

Investment firm Viridi Funds has launched an environmentally friendly, crypto mining-focused exchange-traded fund (ETF). The fund aims to invest in crypto mining firms using cleaner sources of energy.

Viridi Funds’ New RIGZ ETF

The ETF dubbed the Viridi Cleaner Energy Crypto-Mining and Semiconductor ETF will trade on the New York Stock Exchange’s Arca platform under the symbol ‘RIGZ.’

According to the announcement, Viridi Funds will serve as a sub-adviser to the fund, with Alpha Architect creating the fund’s infrastructure.

The ETF, which has an expense ratio of 0.9%, was first filed by Viridi in April this year.

Viridi said 80% of the fund’s investment would go to publicly traded miners, while 20% would go towards semiconductors that take advantage of clean energy. The fund would only invest in miners who have switched to nuclear or renewable energy sources or are working on offsetting their carbon emissions with carbon credits.

According to the CEO of Viridi Funds, Wes Fulford, the firm would use an internal proprietary screening algorithm to select the companies based on their current and planned energy source.

Viridi Funds is backed by several investors, including CoinShares, Alameda Ventures, Luxor Technology, Fundamental Labs, and Mechanism Capital.

Fulford commented on the recent movement of miners from China to North America. He said this was good news as North American miners have access to renewable energy sources.

“We believe that based on recent developments within the Chinese mining sector, North American miners that have access to sustainable low-cost power, large fleets of new-generation rigs, and access to capital are well-positioned to generate higher returns during the months and years ahead.”

With the migration of Chinese miners to North America, the country now accounts for nearly 17% of all global Bitcoin mining, CNBC reports.

Viridi’s ETF Amid Calls For Clean Energy

Viridi’s new product launch is part of the growing efforts of institutions in focusing on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.

Several partnerships have been formed lately by US crypto mining firms to make Bitcoin mining more environmentally friendly. Last week, Bitcoin miner Cleanspark partnered with ESG focused miner Coinmint to increase scalability.

Other companies like Hut 8 and Hive Blockchain have also signed deals recently purchasing new machines to increase their hashrate.

For months, all the buzz has been about Bitcoin exchange-traded funds. While countries like Canada and Brazil have already listed Bitcoin ETFs in their stock exchanges, the US is yet to approve any.

Viridi’s ETF differs because it will not invest directly in cryptocurrencies but will likely have indirect exposure to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies. This is because many publicly listed miners have these assets on their balance sheets.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Brazil Approves its First Ethereum ETF

Blockchain investment firm QR Capital’s Ether exchange-traded fund (ETF) has been approved by Brazil’s Securities and Exchange Commission (CVM).

This first Ether ETF approval of the country comes just three weeks after their first Bitcoin ETF went public on the Brazilian Stock Exchange, which was approved in March.

QETH11 “will be listed on the B3, which becomes the 1st exchange in Latin America to have a 100% Ethereum ETF,” announced the firm on Twitter on Wednesday. The date of listing hasn’t been set yet.

This week, another manager Hashdex announced its Bitcoin ETF BITH11, which bets on neutralizing the carbon footprint of mining bitcoin acquired by the fund. It will be listed on the Brazilian stock exchange in the first half of August.

Brazil has also approved an ETF, HASH11, that invests in a basket of cryptocurrencies.

Meanwhile, QR Capital’s Ether ETF will track the same Ethereum index used by the CME Group, the CME CF Ether Reference Rate. QR Asset Management said.

“The Brazilian investor now has the possibility of exposure to the two largest and most valuable digital assets in the world, in a regulated, simple and secure manner. It is no longer necessary to register in exchanges, create private keys or worry about secure custody.”

QR Capital will use crypto exchange Gemini’s crypto custody solution to store digital assets.

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Author: AnTy

a16Z Launches Largest Ever $2.2 Billion Cryptocurrency-focused Fund

Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz has launched the third and biggest multi-billion dollar cryptocurrency-focused fund to continue to invest in the market.

Founded by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, the firm announced its new $2.2 billion fund on Thursday. It plans to deploy capital across blockchain, digital assets, next-generation payments, decentralized finance (DeFi), Web 3, and more. Katie Haun and Chris Dixon, partners who run Andreessen’s cryptocurrency group said,

“The size of this fund speaks to the size of the opportunity before us: crypto is not only the future of finance but, as with the internet in the early days, is poised to transform all aspects of our lives.”

The company launched its first crypto-focused fund three years ago during crypto winter. Currently, Bitcoin has halved from its all-time high, and altcoins have lost even more of their value.

But as Haun and Dixon noted, “prices may fluctuate but innovation continues to increase through each cycle.”

“We believe that the next wave of computing innovation will be driven by crypto,” they wrote, adding that they’re “radically optimistic about crypto’s potential.”

The firm is known for its early bets on companies like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Lyft. It made the first move into the crypto asset space in 2013 through Coinbase, which went public this year. Additionally, it is now an early investor in Facebook-backed stablecoin Diem, previously known as Libra. The firm has also joined the NFT boom by investing in Dapper Labs and OpenSea.

Andreessen Horowitz said it plans to hold these crypto investments for a decade or more.

The firm also announced new hires for the fund, including former SEC director Bill Hinman as an advisory partner and former undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs Brent McIntosh as an advisor.

For the global head of policy, Tomicah Tillemann, the former chair of the Global Blockchain Business Council and an adviser to the White House, has been appointed. Anthony Albanese, who left the New York Stock Exchange last year, will serve as the new COO, while Rachael Horwitz, who led communications at Twitter, Facebook, and Google, is joining as an operating partner.

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Author: AnTy