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Crypto Execs Remains Bullish, Even Amidst Bearish Setbacks

The cryptocurrency market has had its fair share of fluctuation in the past year or two, with the price of crypto assets reaching all-time highs, just to crash by over 70% subsequently. While this near-unpredictable price action has irked some shorter-term investors (speculative traders), two crypto-centric company execs, Hunter Horsley of Bitwise and Spencer Bogart of Blockchain Capital, recently appeared on Bloomberg to express their continued bullish attitude.

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Firstly, Bitwise CEO Horsley noted that investors may be starting to realize that they overreacted to the SEC’s recent “outright” denial of the Winklevoss’ Bitcoin ETF and the “procedural extension” of the VanEck and SolidX ETF verdict. Backing up this statement, Blockchain Capital partner Bogart noted that regulatory bodies are “running out of reasons to disapprove these things (ETF proposals),” as US-based exchanges have begun to adhere to the SEC’s concerns.

Additionally, Bogart added that the volatility seen in the current state of the crypto market shouldn’t be an issue, as any early-stage industry will experience vast fluctuations in price as investors try to accurately pinpoint a proper value for a certain technology, network, etc.

Bitwise CEO: There’s Still Interest For Crypto, Its Just About The Timing 

Emily Chang, the Bloomberg host leading this segment, then asked the two executives about the current levels of interest in this industry. Bitwise’s CEO, seeming ready to answer such a question, responded by stating:

This is a great question. Over the last few months, we have raised a few million dollars a month. I think what we’ve seen is that this month will be larger than last month… There’s (still) a huge amount of interest and people are wondering on the timing. They don’t want to catch a falling knife — they know that they want to do something, but they don’t know when.

He later brought up the example of the amassment of firms Bitwise has talked to, noting that 75% of 500 representatives from hedge funds, pension groups, family offices, and more would consider making a capital allocation into crypto. Horsley also noted that these firms will need to get comfortable with a crypto investment thesis before making a foray.

Expanding more on this interest, Bogart drew attention to other fundamental indicators, such as the number of developers active in developing blockchain-related solutions and the institutions that are starting to stand behind this nascent industry. The Blockchain Capital partner specifically brought up the example of Goldman Sach’s crypto trading desk, which Ethereum World News has reported on in the past, along with custody solutions for security-wary funds who have invested in digital assets.

But then again, as any logical industry leader would point out, Bogart points out that it obviously makes sense why crypto is in a slump now, as the bull run seen in 2017 was evidently unsustainable. Seemingly sharing a near-identical mindset, Bitwise’s executive added that the worldwide deployment of crypto assets and crypto-related (blockchain-related) technologies may take upwards of 10 years, as the internet did.

Closing off this interview, Bogart issued a short, but sweet statement about where the crypto market is now, and where it is headed in the near future. He stated:

The overall time is the biggest tailwind here… I think that this is market that is emerging outside of the core of the legacy financial industry, but its head directly for it.

Photo by Giovanni Calia on Unsplash

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Airbnb Co-Founder Participates in Almost $23 Million Funding Round for Crypto Startup

Cryptocurrency trading platform SFOX has announced the closure of a $22.7 million Series A funding round with participation from Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk, according to an August 16 press release.

Co-founder and partner at Tribe Capital and Social Capital, Arjun Sethi, led the Series A funding round for the U.S.-based cryptocurrency dealer SFOX, with participation from Y Combinator, Khosla Ventures, Digital Currency Group, Blockchain Capital, and Blecharczyk.

The press release notes that the cryptocurrency dealer aims its services at “large-scale investors such as funds, family offices, and high-net-worth individuals,” and has more than $9 billion in transaction volumes to the present.

Sethi stated in the press release that the ability for institutions to “trade from a single account” and “buy and sell high volumes without impacting prices” is “exactly what institutional investors looking to embrace cryptocurrencies need […] as the ecosystem becomes more fragmented.”

The company’s Medium post notes that the goal of the funding round is to add cryptocurrency pairs, improve trading liquidity, and expand into “new geographical regions.”

Earlier this week, enterprise-focused blockchain startup Axoni had raised $32 million in a funding round led by Goldman Sachs and Nyca Partners, with other investors including Wells Fargo, JPMorgan, Citigroup, and Andreessen Horowitz.

In July, the venture capital arm of General Electric (GE) joined a $12 million investment round in blockchain startup Xage Security, along with City Light Capital and NexStar Partners.

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Radar Relay Raises $10 Million for Decentralized Token Exchange

Decentralized token exchange Radar Relay has completed a $10 million Series A funding round.

The funding effort was led by industry investment firm Blockchain Capital, the startup announced Wednesday. Tusk Ventures, Distributed Global, Reciprocal Ventures, Elefund, Slow Ventures, SV Angel, Kindred Ventures, Collaborative Fund, Breyer Capital, V1.VC, Kokopelli, Village Global, Chapter One and Digital Currency Group also contributed funds.

The money will be used to expand the startup’s community team and start new research and development projects, according to CEO Alan Curtis. The funding effort comes after Radar Relay raised $3 million in December 2017 in a round also led by Blockchain Capital.

Radar Relay provides a wallet-to-wallet trading platform for ethereum tokens. Investors can connect their wallets to the platform to exchange tokens directly, without the startup ever taking any tokens into custody.

The company sought to raise the funds due to the platform’s popularity, Curtis added. While the platform appears to be widely used, only a small portion comes from the U.S., which makes providing support for the vast majority of Radar Relay’s users difficult.

The company now hopes to expand the team in order to help reduce some of these concerns.

Curtis explained:

“We are supporting users from 150 countries. Of those countries, less than a third of our users are from the United States, which means we have to have core competencies in those [other] countries. Part of this funding is to establish a community ambassador program in those countries so we can serve our customers abroad.”

The community ambassador program will see Radar Relay hire individuals fluent in various languages and able to provide support for users, he said. But according to Curtis, the startup’s beta phase saw a notable amount of activity from users.

“We just left beta about a month ago and during that beta we saw $1 million in transaction volume,” he said.

As such, expanding the team to meet support demand will be a key focus for the next month or so. Alongside that, Curtis added, the firm plans to start exploring how to support security tokens and crypto collectibles.

Ethereum token wallet image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Bitcoin ‘Waiting for Reasons to Go Higher’, Says Blockchain VC Partner Spencer Bogart

Blockchain Capital partner Spencer Bogart compared Bitcoin (BTC) to a “tinderbox” July 26, telling CNBC prices could grow further due to multiple “catalysts.”

Speaking to CNBC’s Fast Money, Bogart, who is regular commentator on the network and on cryptocurrency social media, adopted a notably bullish tone compared to just weeks ago when Bitcoin was trading around $6,000.

“Any number of catalysts could send bitcoin exploding higher,” he forecast, adding:

“Bitcoin is kind of a tinderbox right now, waiting for reasons to go higher.”

Bogart’s increasing optimism adds to a popular narrative in the cryptocurrency industry that has grown out of Bitcoin’s sudden price increase of over 33 percent this month, the majority of which occurred over the past ten days.

At press time Thursday, BTC/USD traded around $8,233 according to Cointelegraph’s price index.

Like many commentators, Bogart highlighted potential regulatory approval of a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), geopolitical and macroeconomic “tensions” and continued interest in blockchain integration for payments from big business such as MasterCard in July.

Despite consensus building that the ETF approval will have to wait until September or even longer, Bogart said the status quo could not continue infinitely.

“The cat’s out of the bag,” he continued to CNBC reporters, “[i]nnovation is going elsewhere if the SEC [U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission] doesn’t get on board soon.”

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A Crypto Company Could ‘Overtake’ Wall Street’s Biggest Banks, Says Blockchain VC

Spencer Bogart, a partner at Blockchain Capital, said that other banks will follow Goldman Sachs’ example in opening a crypto trading desk, according to CNBC’s Fast Money today, May 4.

Goldman Sachs reported yesterday that they would soon open a trading desk for Bitcoin (BTC) contracts after being “inundated” with client requests.

Although Bogart told CNBC that the news is “definitely a big step,” he doesn’t think that it’s a “perfect solution, that all of a sudden now just opens the floodgates to the institutionalization of Bitcoin.”

Bogart added that his reasoning that banks will follow Goldman Sachs is not particularly because of the Goldman Sachs name, but because “this market is so large you can’t ignore it anymore”:

“Most of these banks have heard about the numbers or seen the numbers that companies like Coinbase and Binance are putting up. There’s a real risk that some of those companies could overtake some of Wall Street’s biggest banks if they don’t get in the market.”

As Goldman Sachs will currently only be working with derivatives products, Bogart noted that the next problem to solve will be custody, in the event that Goldman Sachs would add direct trading of Bitcoin.

When asked about the future of cryptocurrency, Bogart told CNBC that the most important question to answer is about the crypto “flow,” which he believes will see an addition of new buyers:

“Is the flow going to be greater from hodlers to non-hodlers, or from non hodlers to hodlers?”

Just this past month alone, Goldman Sachs has seen several of its executives move over to the crypto sphere, with former Goldman Sachs employees now working at a crypto merchant bank, a crypto wallet, and a crypto startup.

At the end of April, Goldman Sachs hired crypto trader Jason Schmidt as VP of digital asset markets in their securities division to help clients work with cryptocurrencies.

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Ripple Invests $25 Million of XRP in Blockchain Capital Fund

Ripple has invested $25 million worth of its XRP token in Blockchain Capital’s Parallel IV venture fund, the startup announced on Wednesday.

The firm’s fund is the first to accept capital calls in cryptocurrency.

“Blockchain Capital is the premier fund for any project looking to get off the ground in the blockchain space,” Patrick Griffin, Ripple’s senior vice president of strategic growth, said in a statement.

“They have a proven track record for finding and funding the projects that matter.”

Last month, Blockchain Capital announced that it had raised $150 million dollars in its fourth funding round, and said the proceeds came in the form of $125 million to its IV LP fund, and $25 million worth of cryptocurrency for its Parallel Fund IV, but it did not identify the cryptocurrency at that time. Ripple’s Wednesday announcement reveals that the cryptocurrency in question was XRP.

The companies said the investment will be used to fund blockchain startups in addition to exploring new uses cases for its XRP ledger and Interledger Protocol.

“Whether it’s using XRP, bitcoin or just the underlying technology, our goal is to find the best projects and give them the resources to be successful companies that deliver value to customers for the long term,” Bart Stephens, co-founder and managing partner of Blockchain Capital, said in a statement.

XRP coins image via Shutterstock

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Ripple Devotes $25 Million In Digital and Blockchain Businesses

As innovations are coming in from blockchain industry, it takes a keen observer no time to identify it. This can be said of Ripple. The digital currency and global money transaction firm is investing $25 million into digital and blockchain startups.

Made in XRP, the $25 million investment is to be managed by Blockchain Capital Parallel IV, LP. The angel capital firm is seen as the first fund to accept capital calls in digital assets with concentration on the development of the blockchain space.

What is Obtained in the Ripple Investment?

According to Ripple, Blockchain Capital has approximately $150 million fund under its watch. The investment firm is expected to invest in entrepreneurial teams that are blockchain-focused. Not only that, the investment is expected to provide an opportunity to identify new use cases for the XRP Ledger and Interledger Protocol, Ripple has said.

According to Bart Stephens, co-founder and managing partner of Blockchain Capital, the capital firm is a pioneer in the blockchain sector, it has been at the fore and in the trenches with their portfolio companies, like Ripple, which is designing a new crypto ecosystem.

Bart made known that it saw opportunities for distributed ledger technology in healthcare and identity management.

“Whether it’s using XRP, bitcoin or just the underlying blockchain technology, our goal is to find the best projects and give them the resources to be successful companies that deliver value to customers for the long term,” Bart said.

Meanwhile, talking on the latest development with Blockchain Capital, Ripple’s SVP of Strategic Growth, Patrick Griffin, reiterated that “Blockchain Capital is the premiere fund for any project looking to get off the ground in the blockchain space. They have a proven track record for finding and funding the projects that matter.”

“This is the first fund that we’ve contributed to, and it won’t be the last. We plan to be major players in shaping the future generation of blockchain or crypto companies.”

The reason behind this investment, according to Ripple is that the firm believes in supporting the XRP Ledger and Interledger Protocol, at the same time, the cryptocurrency firm is ready to continue to seek opportunities and support entrepreneurs, companies and funds that share this vision.

Blockchain Capital is blockchain-centred venture investor, founded in 2013 to help entrepreneurs invest ideas, build companies, and manage projects on blockchain technology.  The San Francisco is flaunted as one of the oldest and most active venture investors in the blockchain technology sector. Since it was created, the venture has financed 72 companies, protocols and tokens.

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AngelList’s Regulation-Friendly Token Sale Platform Raises $9.2 Mln In Initial Funding Round

CoinList, a platform for token-based financial services with an emphasis on compliance with regulation, has raised $9.2 mln during its initial fundraising round, according to a press release published today, April 5.

CoinList is a subsidiary of AngelList, a website for connecting startups to investors and job-seekers.

The press release notes that CoinList’s $9.2 mln figure includes previously-raised funds from VC firm Accomplice and research firm Protocol Labs, as well as crypto funds Polychain Capital, Digital Currency Group, FBG Capital, Libertus Capital, Blockchain Capital, Coinfund, and Electric Capital.

According to CoinList’s website, the projects on the platform have raised around $435 mln in the past twelve months, with Filecoin’s Initial Coin Offering (ICO) of more than $205 mln as a standout for the large amount raised.

CoinList hosts a compliance service, ComplyAPI, that promotes itself as “tak[ing] care of compliance 
so you can focus on your token sale.” The service conducts AML and KYC checks on potential investors, as well as ensures that only accredited investors – those with a net worth of over $1 mln or an annual income of $200,000 – are participating in a company’s token sale as “pursuant to US securities laws.”

Andy Bromberg, the co-founder and CEO of CoinList, said in the press release that the success of CoinList’s funding round “reflects the growing need that promising [B]lockchain companies have for superior token sale compliance and execution:”

“Now more than ever, companies raising money through an ICO need a platform partner that knows the intricacies of execution and regulation. CoinList provides even more integrity to the startups that have already distinguished themselves, and comfort to the accredited investors that want to commit to [B]lockchain technology.”

Launching an ICO in the US requires a company to either register for the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accredited investor exemption, or register their ICO as a security offering.

ICOs across the country have been shut down due to what the SEC cites as a selling of “unregistered securities,” most recently in Massachusetts, in part due to the SEC’s recently launched cryptocurrency probe.

The Praetorian Group filed in early March with the SEC to register their ICO as a security offering; if their application is accepted, they will become the first company to hold an SEC-regulated ICO.

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Blockchain Capital Raises $150 Million, Looks Beyond Financial Services

Blockchain Capital has raised $150 million in its fourth fundraising round, raising the total value of assets under the venture capital firm’s management to $250 million.

San Francisco-based Blockchain Capital’s portfolio already includes fintech companies such as Coinbase, Ripple, Circle, and Kraken. It has long been one of the blockchain industry’s leading firms, investing in 72 companies, tokens and protocols since it was founded in 2013.

This recent round is Blockchain Capital’s largest to date. It came in two parts: $125 million for the Blockchain Capital IV LP fund and $25 million worth of cryptocurrency for Blockchain Capital Parallel Fund IV. It did not disclose what kind of tokens the latter fund accepted, just that it only takes crypto.

Co-founder and managing partner Bart Stephens told CoinDesk the firm is especially interested in non-fungible tokens, like the virtual pet game CryptoKitties, as well as diverse blockchain solutions. He said:

You’re going to see us continue to invest globally in the leading crypto companies, but also kind of the next generation of entrepreneurs and sectors outside of financial services. We’ve made investments in healthcare companies, in logistics companies, in identity management. To date we’ve seen a lot of focus on financial services and we really see that broadening.”

Bitcoin developer Jimmy Song gave the firm an additional reputation boost when he joined as the newest venture partner in January. Song told CoinDesk in the following weeks he also plans to launch a fellowship program or residency to fund volunteer bitcoin coders. Stephens confirmed there will soon be announcements regarding opportunities at the firm’s initiative Platypus Labs.

“We really focus on the engineering team,” Stephens said, describing what the firm looks for in prospective projects. “It’s a lot of the developers that are the rock stars in this community…It’s not just about finding the best investments, but also about moving the industry forward.”

Money image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Project Platypus: Jimmy Song's Plan to Fund Unpaid Bitcoin Coders

One of the most respected developers in bitcoin wants to give a new generation of open-source developers a revenue stream.

Jimmy Song, known for his easy-to-understand technical analysis of cryptocurrency, is in the process of designing a laboratory to train and pay crypto developers under his new auspices as a partner at Blockchain Capital. Informally dubbed Platypus Labs, the project will support developers with a combination of residencies and fellowships, with an initial focus on coders building on Bitcoin Core, the most used version of the bitcoin software.

According to Song, the project, while still in its early stages of development, has already garnered the interest of several of Blockchain Capital’s portfolio companies, plus a number of investors that have bought into the venture capital firms’ funds.

It’s not all that surprising given the lack of talent in the space as compared to the number of developer jobs needed. According to stats from Indeed.com, the number of blockchain jobs posted in the U.S. alone rose by 207 percent between December 2016 and December 2017.

Illustrative of this, Blockchain Capital co-founder Bart Stephens told CoinDesk, “Without exception, all of the 62 companies in the Blockchain Capital portfolio need engineering talent. We couldn’t be more pleased to have him join the team and allow us to support and contribute to the ecosystem in this way.”

With such enthusiasm already, Song expects to roll out a fellowship or residency program in the next two months.

While the project, which will have a physical location in San Francisco, will at first focus specifically on building up the developer ecosystem around bitcoin, the lab could eventually expand to include support for other cryptocurrencies.

Song told CoinDesk:

“We want to reward developers, because they’re obviously adding tremendous value to the ecosystem, and we want to see them get compensated for it, if that’s what they want to do.”

Developer interest

That modifier on Song’s statement, though, stems from the fact that getting developers to participate could be more of a challenge.

During bitcoin’s infancy, all Core developers were volunteers, working on the code in their spare time for free. Although other times, developers had large sums of bitcoin and so worked on the code to protect their investment.

“If you own a lot of bitcoin, then it’s in your interest to work on it – at least that’s why I started contributing to Core,” Song said.

But as bitcoin became more popular, educational institutions such as MIT and venture-backed startups like BitPay, Blockstream and Chain Code Labs began hiring bitcoin developers to keep up their work on the public blockchain.

Yet, not every Core developer has shown interest in such monetary support, in some ways stemming from the perception of working for a company versus the altruistic autonomy of working alone.

“Certain developers, you’re never going to get them to do that, they’re doing it for other reasons than money,” Song said. “But certainly, if that is a concern, and if that’s something that certain developers are interested in, we want to support that.”

Supply and demand

Song also wants to support new developers that might want to get trained in the nascent technology, but have limited resources to do so.

While Song has committed 14 changes to the Bitcoin Core codebase, he’s better known as an educator, making a name for himself through Programming Blockchain, a two-day seminar designed to give Python developers the necessary skills to write code for bitcoin applications.

Yet, he wants to add to that with Platypus Labs, primarily in teaching developers how to update core infrastructure that’s been overlooked for some time.

For one, there’s bitcoin’s aging open-source libraries, such as bitcoin wallet library bitcoinj, which was already getting old when its creator Mike Hearn walked away from bitcoin altogether in 2016.

“A lot of open-source libraries in bitcoin have fallen into disrepair,” he said. “We’d like to make sure those are shored up for the sake of our portfolio companies at the very least, but also for the sake of the ecosystem.”

In this pursuit, Song is in the process of contacting each of Blockchain Capital’s 62 portfolio companies to ask which coding libraries they use. He’s also asking them which new tools they need and what other ways Platypus Labs might be beneficial to them.

Once that reconnaissance is done, Song expects to formally reveal the criteria for the joining the laboratory.

On top of that, he’ll be perusing the industry for companies – that Blockchain Capital might invest in – run by entrepreneurs that can code the “basics really, really well.”

Speaking to both his expanding the role on Blockchain Capital with his laboratory, plus his thesis for finding companies for the firm to invest in, Song told CoinDesk:

“I like to see companies that are innovating and not rent-seeking.”

Image via CryptoPotato YouTube

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