Institutional Investments in Crypto Funds is a Big Deal


Crypto industry has received an unusual amount of funding this year from investors. And a prominent venture capital investor thinks it is a big deal.

Garry Tan, an early stage investor with companies like Coinbase and Instacart in his portfolio, commented on the growing amount of institutional money that is flowing into crypto-funds. He stated that he is “super confused” at the FUD this old-school-new-school combination is receiving from the core crypto believers.

Emphasizing that mainstream investors were not pouring in small money, Tan said the endowment equates investments that are put by venture capitalists.

“Is it a negligible amount? No,” he added.

Cryptocurrency funds have emerged as an alternative to investors who prefer to pour-in more significant capitals into cryptocurrencies than average retail investors. The fund somewhat works like a traditional hedge fund but contrasts itself by adding cryptocurrencies – instead of mainstream assets – to its portfolio. These funds come with their own lower cap of investments. Therefore, big investors put in big money into a pool of funds, and leave it under the watch of professional hedge custodians in hopes for growth.

A very recent example which explains the popularity of cryptocurrency funds among mainstream investors comes from Yale University. David Swensen, a prominent caretaker of the university’s $29.4 million endowment fund, recently took $400 million worth of positions in two portfolios dedicated to cryptocurrencies. Paradigm, a fund co-launched by Coinbase, manages one of the funds. 

Core crypto believers think crypto funds are institutionalizing Bitcoin, a digital currency built on the idea of decentralization. The core principle of the blockchain, which is the distributed ownership of validation, security, and trust, goes against the workings of centralized custodianships. Blockchain allows users to govern their wealth by keeping a private key. In the case of crypto funds, managers require control to the investors’ digital assets by getting access to their private keys.

Stanford University in their February 2018 study, titled “Rise of the Crypto Hedge Fund,” writes:

“The safeguarding of private keys is the utmost security concern for fund managers, and any dissemination of those keys—including to third-party custodians—will only serve to increase the risk of theft. The more people have access to keys, and the more computers or servers on which those keys can be found, the more likely that those keys can be hacked or misappropriated.”

Core crypto believers also sees crypto funds as an excuse to hegemonize the market. By limiting capital to accredited investors, the crypto industry exposes itself to the risk of price manipulation, especially wild upside/downside swings which force small investors to tail trends started by big investors.

Tan hinted that he understands the inherent risks in making bets on a market that is hyper-volatile by nature, even when many believe crypto is bottoming out after going through an 80 percent crash this year. Crypto funds, according to a report from Autonomous Next, has faced more than 50 percent loss amidst an overall bearish market trend already. Nevertheless, institutional money continues to come inside this new industry.

“The crypto winter generally makes it safer for super-long-term oriented Yale-model institutions to enter at a price that isn’t dangerous,” said Tan. “You know what is scary? Investing and then immediately seeing an 80% drop. That is hard to recover from.”

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