Crypto Investments Weekly – Oct. 29– Nov. 4

    06 Nov 2022
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    Top investment deals across the crypto sector over the last week (Oct. 29–Nov. 4, 2022):

    Fireblocks-powered crypto custodian RakkaR Digital raises $10 million

    RakkaR Digital, a Singapore-based crypto custodian that uses technology from Fireblocks, has raised $10 million in a seed funding round. The round was backed by a single investor — SCB 10X — a unit within Thailand’s oldest bank, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), according to The Block. Founded this February, RakkaR aims to serve institutional clients in Southeast Asia on the Fireblocks platform. RakkaR also plans to launch its own mobile app next year.

    Pantera backs Braavos’ $10 million raise to simplify crypto wallets on StarkNet

    Braavos has raised $10 million to launch a self-custodial wallet on StarkNet, an Ethereum scaling solution. The seed round is led by Pantera Capital. Other backers include Brevan Howard Digital, Crypto.com, Road Capital, Matrixport, and Starkware.

    Braavos was co-founded at the start of this year by Motty Lavie, Abraham Makovetsky, and Yoav Gaziel. The startup closed the all-equity fundraise at the beginning of the bear market, according to Lavie.

    Caitlin Long’s digital asset bank Custodia raises $7 million

    State-chartered digital asset bank Custodia, formerly known as Avanti, has raised $7 million, according to a filing submitted to the US SEC. The startup, which was founded in 2020 by Wall Street veteran Caitlin Long, raised a $37 million Series A round in March of last year. Its backers include Binance.US, Coinbase Ventures, and Lemniscap. The startup’s total funding now amounts to $51 million.

    Web3 fund led by ex-Binance Labs executive Nicole Zhang lands $20 million

    Lingfeng Innovation Fund (LIF), a new venture capital fund led by former Binance Labs executive Nicole Zhang, landed $20 million to invest in crypto startups.

    The Web3-dedicated LIF is a sister fund to Beijing-based Lingfeng Capital, the fintech investment firm with more than $400 million in assets under management. Zhang was previously an executive director at Binance Labs, the venture arm of the giant crypto exchange operator.

    Coinbase Ventures participates in $4.2 million funding round for NiftyApes

    NiftyApes, a firm that lets users take out loans on any NFT collection, has raised $4.2 million in seed funding. NiftyApes will use the funds to grow its team and continue expanding the firm, founders Zach Herring and Kevin Seagraves told The Block

    Variant and FinTech Collective led the round. Additional participants include Robot Ventures, Polygon, Coinbase Ventures, The LAO, FlamingoDAO, Ryan Sean Adams, David Hoffman, Eric Conner, Anthony Sassano, Cyrus Younessi, DC Investor, James Young, James Duncan, Nadav Hollander, and Brendan Forster.

    Nomura unit invests in Orderly Network’s token round at $200 million valuation

    Laser Digital, the crypto subsidiary of Japanese banking giant Nomura, has joined the roster of investors in Orderly Network, a DeFi infrastructure protocol built on the Near blockchain.

    The capital injection is additional to the $20 million seed round raised in June from several backers, including Sequoia China, Pantera Capital, Dragonfly, and Jump Crypto, Orderly Network. While the size of Laser Digital’s investment wasn’t disclosed, co-founder Ran Yi told The Block that it valued Orderly Network at $200 million – the same valuation attained in the seed round.

    Web3 VC firm CoinFund eyes $250 million for seed investments

    CoinFund, a New York-based Web3 investment firm, is looking to raise $250 million to invest in seed-stage startups just three months after announcing its previous fund, CoinDesk reported. 

    The company’s Cayman Islands-domiciled funds are looking to raise $130 million and $20 million, while its Delaware-incorporated vehicle is seeking $100 million, according to three separate filings on Monday. The documents indicate that the sales have yet to occur, meaning that the funds are at a very early stage.

    DeFi protocol Centrifuge raises $4 million in the strategic round

    Decentralized finance protocol Centrifuge has raised $4 million in a strategic round from backers Coinbase Ventures, BlockTower, Scytale, and L1 Digital. The Berlin-based project enables real-world assets – such as real estate, consumer credit, and invoices — to be tokenized and leveraged within DeFi services. Such tokenization has been seen as one of the core use cases for blockchain technology, as it allows for more transparent and liquid markets.

    Microsoft invests in South Korean Web3 gaming firm Wemade

    Microsoft is making another investment in South Korean gaming firm Wemade, best known for its popular Legend of Mir series. The company raised $46 million from Microsoft, Shinhan Asset Management, and Kiwoom Securities. Although Wemade dates back to the early 2000s, it has pivoted to Web3 recently and launched both its mainnet and a stablecoin last month.

    Microsoft dives into Web3 earlier this year when it invested in blockchain software company Consensys. In September, it took part in a funding round for the decentralized data platform Space and Time.

    Evmos developers raise $27 million in a token sale led by Polychain

    Tharsis, the developers of Evmos blockchain, raised $27 million at an undisclosed valuation in a token sale round led by Polychain Capital. Companies like Galaxy Digital, Huobi and HashKey also participated. 

    The team hopes to deploy the newly raised capital toward accelerating the development of decentralized applications in the Evmos network ecosystem, Tharsis co-founder Federico Kunze Küllmer said in a statement.

    Cathie Wood loads up on over $7 million worth of Block and Robinhood shares

    Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest bought shares in Block and Robinhood this week as the two crypto-adjacent companies prepared to release earnings. Ark purchased 69,756 Block shares and 343,623 Robinhood shares on Wednesday across two funds, according to its latest trade filing. Block shares closed down at $54.64 yesterday ahead of earnings today. Based on this price, the Ark Innovation ETF’s purchase cost around $3.8 million.

    Bakkt to acquire Apex Crypto for up to $200 million

    Bakkt is set to acquire Apex Crypto from Apex Fintech Solutions for up to $200 million in an effort to bolster its cryptocurrency product. Bakkt will pay $55 million in cash when the deal closes, according to a statement. The crypto platform will also pay $45 million in stock, dependent on fourth-quarter financial targets set for Apex Crypto. An additional $100 million in stock and seller notes may also be paid, dependent on 2025 financial targets. The deal is expected to finalize in the first half of 2023 and is subject to regulatory approval.

    WalletConnect raises $12.5 million to build ‘web3 communications network’

    WalletConnect has raised $12.5 million in what it calls an “ecosystem round” from previous lead investors 1kx and Union Square Ventures, along with companies and projects such as Shopify, ConsenSys and Gnosis. 

    The startup’s current core offering allows users to easily connect integrated crypto wallets — such as MetaMask, Rainbow and Argent — with decentralized applications via QR codes. Rather than a desire for an increased runway in a bear market, the round is motivated by a desire to switch up its business model from a SaaS model — which motivated its Series A — to, instead, collaborate with investors on a decentralized communications network.

    Solana yield manager Texture raises $5 million, enters private beta

    DeFi yield platform Texture has raised $5 million in a round co-led by P2P Capital and Sino Global, and is now live in private beta testing. Other investors in the round include Wintermute, Semantic Ventures and Jane Street Capital. The funds were raised in the stablecoin USDC and the valuation was not disclosed.

    Texture is a DeFi platform running on the Solana blockchain. Its first product provides higher yields to those looking to stake their SOL tokens. It is using a leveraged staking strategy to achieve this, similar to tokens on Ethereum like the Interest Compounding ETH Index (icETH) and the ETH Max Yield Index (ETHMAXY).

    AptosLaunch on course to raise $2 million in token round

    AptosLaunch, a crypto startup offering a platform for Aptos-based projects to launch their tokens before an exchange listing, is on course to raise about $2 million in a token round. The company was looking to raise $1.8 million via a simple agreement for future tokens (SAFT) involving AptosLaunch’s native ALT token but ultimately received commitments of more than $18 million, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told The Block.

    BitDAO voting on proposal to earn yield from part of its $2.1 billion treasury

    The BitDAO community is currently voting on a governance proposal that would seek to generate a yield from a portion of the organization’s $2.1 billion treasury. The goal of the proposal is to create yields for holders of BitDAO’s native token, called bit, while also expanding its liquidity on Uniswap.

    BitDAO holds the second-largest DAO treasury behind Uniswap. Unlike other DAOs built to administer DeFi projects, BitDAO is an investment DAO. The organization says its goal is to promote crypto adoption on a global scale by issuing grants to projects.

    Circle begins putting reserves into new BlackRock fund

    Circle Internet Financial has begun moving the reserves for its USDC stablecoin into a dedicated fund set up by BlackRock and registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company disclosed Thursday.

    The Circle Reserve Fund – a government money market fund managed by BlackRock Advisors – has been in the works for months after BlackRock initially sought to register it in May. Circle will be its only eligible investor, and the stablecoin issuer has already started putting its reserves there, expecting to be “fully transitioned” by the end of March.

    Crypto hedge fund Arca shutters TerraUSD-exposed fund

    Crypto hedge fund Arca shut down its $20 million Digital Yield Fund due to the current downturn in the market. The fund, which opened in September 2021, had exposure to TerraUSD but a source told CoinDesk, which first reported the news, that wasn’t the reason behind the closure.

    Amber Group reduces valuation, seeks additional $100 million

    Crypto trading platform Amber Group to reduce its valuation as the company pursues a new funding round. Amber Group now seeks $100 million at the same $3 billion valuation it previously raised, Bloomberg reported.

    The company in February was valued at $3 billion as it raised $200 million, led by wealth fund Temasek, and joined by Sequoia China, Pantera Capital, Tiger Global Management, True Arrow Partners and Coinbase Ventures. Amber attempted to raise again at a much higher valuation between $5 billion-$8 billion, but given a general slump in the crypto market, those funds never materialized.

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