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

Mike Novogratz’s Publicly Trading Company to Invest $100 Mln in Crypto Venture Funds

Mike Novogratz’s Publicly Trading Company to Invest $100 Mln in Crypto Venture Funds

Billionaire Mike Novogratz, CEO of New York-based Galaxy Digital, has announced that he will be investing $100 million in crypto-related venture funds over the course of the next two years.

Cryptology Asset Group, a Malta-based investment company co-founded by Novogratz, has 450 million euros ($548 million) in assets. Through its latest investment, the firm intends to focus on first-time funds and emerging managers with stakes in crypto assets or crypto-related companies.

A publicly traded holding company for blockchain-related assets in Europe, Cryptology already has Block.one, Northern Data, and Iconic Funds in its portfolio. Co-founder Christian Angermayer said in the release,

“We are at the very beginning of the crypto revolution, and we strive to become one of the leading global investors in this very nascent asset class.”

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Author: AnTy

129 Crypto Startups Raised $2.6 Billion in Q1: CB Insights Report

Venture capitalists are pouring money like crazy into cryptocurrency-related companies, according to CB Insights.

In the first half quarter of 2020, $2.6 billion was raised by 129 startups focused on the blockchain. In just three months, the crypto industry had raised more than they did in all of 2020 when they attracted $2.3 billion in 341 deals.

This jump in fundraising was fueled by several large rounds by the likes of game-maker Dapper Labs Inc., crypto wallet provider Blockchain.com, and crypto lender BlockFi Inc., according to the data analysis company.

This surge in funding is happening due to the ongoing bull rally that has Bitcoin price soaring to an all-time high of $62k and becoming a billion-dollar asset.

With the cryptocurrency market reaching a $2 trillion market capitalization, corporations, hedge funds, high net-worth individuals, institutions, asset managers, pension funds, and insurance companies are all coming in to invest in the crypto space.

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Author: AnTy

Investors Pump Millions into The NFT Market, Analysts Debate – Good Or Bad Investment?

  • Non-fungible token (NFT) markets are quickly catching the eyes of venture capital firms.
  • Critics claim investment in NFTs is akin to “gambling in a casino.”
  • Are NFTs being used for money laundering?

Over the past few months, there’s been a boom in demand for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in tandem with the growing cryptocurrency market. However, this rise in demand has not gone unnoticed as venture capital firms have poured over $90 million in NFT projects so far this year representing a sharp 150% increase from NFT projects’ investment last year, a CNBC report states.

According to Pitchfork, Sorare, a blockchain-based football digital collectibles game, has raised the most from VCs this year, $48.8 million, including Accel, Benchmark, and former Manchester United F.C. defender, Rio Ferdinand.

Andrei Brasoveanu, a general partner at Accel, labeled the expansive growth of NFTs as “one of the most exciting tech developments” shortly after the “record-breaking” investment became public. Brasoveanu further stated,

“It’s one of those developments that have mass-market appeal and could potentially impact a world outside the crypto niche.”

Notwithstanding, reports have linked popular NFT marketplace, OpenSea, which has previously sold some of the top-selling NFTs, with a possible $250 million raised at $2 billion valuations. The DApp creator, Dapper Labs, raised $23 million in a seed funding round for OpenSea led by Andreessen Horowitz in 2020.

Dapper Labs is well-known for its NBA Top Shot application that creates and sells to users NBA players’ NFT collectible cards. However, the funding rumors were quashed by Roham Gharegozlou, CEO and founder of Dapper Labs, who said the rumors were “baseless.”

A Critical Stand Against the Booming NFT Market

Despite VCs opening up their checkbooks to invest in NFT-related firms, some critics believe the NFT market is a fad in the crypto world. CEO of L’Atelier BNP Paribas, John Egan, compares buying NFT collectibles to gambling in a casino. “I think it’s probably akin at this stage to going into the casino,” he said.

In the past week, Beeple, a digital artist, made huge waves in the crypto world as his collection of NFTs sold for $69 million, making this art the third most expensive art from a living artist. Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, and athletes such as Ron Gronkowski have all offered their unique NFTs to the public amidst the surging demand.

Despite his skepticism, Egan stated the NFT world possesses highly risky assets, but he believes the ecosystem will play a key role in the future. He stated the unique and cryptographic secure nature of NFT provides “the bedrock economic infrastructure within the virtual economy.”

The Path to Darkness – Money Laundering?

Apart from an ensuing “bubble” that most critics have prophesied, others claim NFTs are headed to a regulation path, similar to the cryptocurrency assets preceding them. One of the most practical dangers lingering above NFTs is money-laundering, which is also a grave issue in the crypto field.

According to Jesse Spiro, the chief of government affairs at the blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis, NFTs present a harder challenge to single out money laundering. Spiro said,

“One of the ways to identify trade-based money laundering with [traditional] art is that [an appraiser] comes up with a fair market value for something, and you’re able to measure that fair market value against the pricing that’s involved [and flag] over-invoicing or under-invoicing.”

“This is either selling that asset for less than it’s worth or for more than it’s worth.”

While noticing money laundering patterns in well-established markets such as the NBA Top Shot is easy, random or one-off NFT sales is much more complicated, he explained.

“All that’s needed is two parties that are involved to execute that [transaction] successfully effectively.”

However, a former Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse fund manager argued that money laundering using NFTs “does not make sense.” The fund manager stated,

“I certainly see the potential for money laundering here, but given that there are lots of assets out there on the blockchain that people can use for that, [NFTs] may not be best-suited.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Badger DAO, a Bitcoin DeFi Solution, Raises $21 Million from Top Crypto Venture Capital Firms

Badger DAO, a Bitcoin DeFi Solution, Raises $21 Million from Top Crypto Venture Capital Firms

Top crypto venture capital firms invest $21 million in Bitcoin-focused decentralized finance (DeFi) platform, Badger DAO, to kick off a new era on the platform. The move aims to diversify some of the BADGER tokens held on the platform’s DAO treasury as a “backstop” to huge bearish market movements.

Reported on Thursday, Badger DAO, a Bitcoin on Ethereum DeFi solution, announced the sale of $21 million worth of its Treasury assets to four top crypto VC firms, including Polychain Capital, Parafi Capital, Blockchain Capital, and an unnamed whale wallet, 0xB1.

The idea first popped up in the Badger Improvement Proposal, BIP-37, under the “Treasury Diversification through Strategic Partnerships” plan, which aims to diversify a portion of the BADGER tokens stored in the Treasury to stablecoins managing the risk.

While it’s uncommon in the DeFi space, as most projects select to raise funds through the market on their AMMs, BIP 37 suggests funding from VCs offers better benefits for Badger DAO. Raising VCs funds will help Badger DAO reduce the market risks of selling through AMMs while gaining strategic value from the investors.

Chris Spadafora, the founder of Badger DAO, supported the current change in the system that is seeing more VCs invest in decentralized finance platforms.

“DAOs should embrace large investment players based on their willingness to participate in governance and open their network to push the protocol forward,” Spadafora said. “Doing it right for VCs is about becoming a community member vs. an investor.”

Badger DAO Treasury currently holds nearly $700 million worth of its native assets – $BADGER and $DIGG. According to Chris Spadafora, the sale involved an exchange of staked BADGER tokens (bBADGER) for USDC tokens which will be used to create a “backstop” insurance pool for users’ funds.

The proposal suggests the community take a “barbell strategy,” but a clear path on how the stablecoins will be used is yet to be determined. One idea is to hold the tokens as part of the Treasury while the USDC tokens can also be staked to earn yields to help the DAO during bear market conditions.

The VCs will also be “getting involved in governance to help the protocol grow, providing long-term liquidity and building more bridges with institutional ecosystem partners,” Spadafora added.

Badger currently sits on $1.40 billion in total locked value (TVL), according to DeFi Pulse, placing it as the tenth-largest DeFi protocol.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Alphabet’s Venture Capital Unit Invests in Blockchain.com’s 0 Million Funding Round

Alphabet’s Venture Capital Unit Invests in Blockchain.com’s $120 Million Funding Round

Blockchain, a cryptocurrency service provider, has raised $120 million in its latest funding round. The funding included investments from Alphabet Inc’s venture capital unit GV.

Other investors in the funding round included hedge fund manager Kyle Bass, investment firms Moore Strategic Ventures, Rovida Advisors, and Lightspeed Venture Partners, and industrial group Access Industries, the company said.

The London-based company said that about 28% of all Bitcoin transactions since 2012 had been routed through its platform.

The total number of unique Blockchain.com wallets created has also reached 67.72 million, up from 32 million at the beginning of 2019 and almost 11 million at the start of 2017, as per their website.

Gaining immense acceptance among mainstream investors and companies, the price of Bitcoin has jumped past $52,000, up from about $30,000 at the beginning of this year.

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Author: AnTy

Ripple Partner, SBI Group, Looks to Form Crypto Joint Venture to Boost Revenue

Ripple Partner, SBI Group, Looks to Form Crypto Joint Venture to Boost Revenue

Tokyo-based financial giant SBI Holdings has opened up talks with various international financial institutions to form a crypto joint venture. The firm revealed that it aims to make the crypto business one of its main pillars.

Speaking to Reuters, Yoshitaka Kitao, SBI CEO, revealed that the bank is in talks with numerous financial institutions to set up a crypto venture. Kitao also stated that SBI has already secured two plausible deals but remained coy on the details. The CEO stated that part of the initiative is to pursue mergers and acquisitions.

To enhance its presence in the crypto space, SBI bought TaoTao, a Japanese-based crypto exchange, last year. Kitao explained that the merger and acquisition strategy does not involve taking the minority stakes but partnering with top crypto companies worldwide.

Ripple partner SBI Holdings has witnessed a big jump in profits from its crypto wing for the year ending December 2020. The financial conglomerate’s crypto pretax profit stood at $64 million, which increased 83% compared to 2019. Kitao explained,

“To be number one in the world, our choice is purchasing a leading firm or allying with major global companies. Our merger and acquisition strategy will not be something like taking minority stakes in many companies. Investors once lived in the world where they invested in stocks or bonds; it’s not an either-or situation anymore.”

Kitao also elaborated that institutional interest in crypto assets is rising, which presents a huge opportunity for SBI. He added that institutional investors, mostly hedge funds, are flocking the crypto market, presenting an opportunity for mergers and acquisitions. He also cited that renowned investors like Elon Musk are taking an interest in the crypto industry.

In December last year, SBI purchased cryptocurrency trading outfit B2C2, and the firm is looking to add more.

SBI Holdings is the largest online brokerage firm in Japan and has been offering crypto trading services since 2018.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Top 20 Global Investment Firm Franklin Templeton & VC Illuminate Finance Invest in Curv Series A

The global investment firm Franklin Templeton and Illuminate Financial, a Fintech venture capital firm, join Curv, an institutional cryptocurrency wallet solution, as investors – joining Curv’s July 2020 Series A funding. The move sees the former two firms join the $23 million funding round, including several top investors, including Digital Currency Group (DCG), Coinbase Ventures, CommerzVentures, Google’s Digital Garage, and Team 8.

According to an email sent to the BEG news desk, Franklin Templeton will switch from a customer of Curv to an investor. This follows the successful completion of a proof of concept built by BNP Paribas that allows Curv to transfer digital assets across blockchains securely.

This partnership will see the two traditional finance heavyweights join the digital and crypto world through Curv. The institutional wallet firm aims to drive traditional finance corporations to own and hold digital assets through its Multi-party Computation (MPC) technology. MPC allows a secure transfer, storage, and management of digital assets on distributed ledgers.

Franklin Templeton aims to leverage Curv’s MPC technology to expand into the growing crypto and decentralized finance (DeFi) market on a secure platform. Curv’s MPC technology introduces a keyless approach removing all single points of failures to help institutions securely move assets and deliver them instantaneously on a blockchain.

Joe Boerio, EVP, Chief Risk & Transformation Officer at Franklin Templeton, believes joining Curv as an investor will improve security when transferring assets across blockchains with the MPC technology – protecting the system “against cyber breaches and insider collusion.” He said,

“We are excited to participate in Curv’s journey as it sets a new standard for digital asset security and scales its business across major financial institutions across the globe.”

Over the past few months, governments worldwide have taken a front foot in regulating the virtual currency industry to curb illicit activities. Due to this, first-time institutions entering the field are leaning towards licensed institutional wallets to store their digital assets. Curv, in particular, has witnessed a growth in its client base, offering an enterprise-grade infrastructure for these institutions ensuring they securely deploy these solutions. Itay Malinger, Curv CEO and Co-founder said,

“The addition of Franklin Templeton is a barometer of the traditional industry’s shift into digital assets, and a broader desire to bring public blockchain-based offerings to market.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

SBI eSports Signs Pro FIFA and Super Smash Bros Ultimate Players; Will Be Paid in XRP

SBI eSports, a subsidiary gaming venture of Japanese financial giant SBI Holdings, has signed two professional players to its e-team. In an official announcement made on 16th October, the SBI e-sports subsidiary also revealed that they would be paying its player’s salaries in XRP.

Back in September, the firm revealed that they were planning on paying their player’s salaries in cryptocurrencies. The official announcement read,

“The company aims to raise awareness of the SBI Group by strengthening contact points with the digital generation, and to create synergies with the various financial services businesses of the SBI Group.”

The payment of salary in the digital token would be facilitated via SBI’s crypto-asset trading division called SBI VC Trade. However, the final decision to accept salaries in XRP tokens would lie in the players’ hands. The official signing read,

“Players will be paid in the crypto asset ‘XRP’ instead of Japanese yen based on the wishes of the player and the sponsorship contract with SBI VC Trade Co., Ltd.”

The two pro players signed by the SBI eSports include one of Japan’s top pros in the Nintendo Switch fighting game, Super Smash Bros, Ultimate player Kenji “Ken” Suzuki, and FIFA 21 player Subaru “Mikey” Sagano, who has represented the German soccer club 1. FC Nürnberg.

The signings made by the SBI e-Sports is one of a kind because of the digital asset salary clause, which was not only highlighted in the official announcement but also in the personal tweets made by the signed players.

SBI to Conduct a Security Token Offering for SBI eSports

The SBI Group is also set to conduct a security token offering for the eSports subsidiary expected to occur on October 30. The offering would see 1000 total shares up for grabs valued at 50,000 yen (about $475) per share.

SBI Group is a Ripple partner and one of the significant stakeholders in the digital asset firm.

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Author: James W

Venture Fund to Invest Majority of $100 Million Raised Fund in DeFi Protocols

San Francisco-based venture fund Electric Capital has raised $100 million from university endowments and other non-profits and it will be using this to invest in digital assets and related businesses.

The firm is known for its earlier investments in crypto projects like Anchorage, Bitwise, and Celo. A third of its assets have already been invested in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and several projects like DerivaDEX exchange.

The fund that closed in May will have a long-term time horizon of 10 years, according to its co-founder Avichal Garg, who previously worked at Google and Facebook as the director of product management. He said,

“Bitcoin and Ethereum are a minority of the fund.”

“Our thoughts are more toward Defi protocols, apps built on top of this stuff.”

The firm uses software to determine which projects are seeing interest from programmers to guide its investments and help companies that it invests in grow. Electric’s original $35 million fund was invested in digital currencies like BTC, Ether, and blockchain projects.

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Author: AnTy