Union Square Ventures is doubling down on crypto

Finance


Union Square Ventures has big plans to profit on a potential trillion-dollar business in blockchain and crypto in 10 years. But those plans won’t include starting a separate fund, according to a top executive.

“We’re not planning to do it,” Albert Wenger, managing partner at Union Square Ventures told CNBC. “We see a lot of upside to keeping it under the same roof.”

The New York- based venture capital firm, named after its 19th-floor office on Broadway just blocks from Union Square, has announced a number of crypto investments, including well-known U.S. exchange Coinbase. Wenger said those companies can learn from non-blockchain companies, and vice versa.

On Monday, competing venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz announced its first-ever fund dedicated to crypto companies. Executives told CNBC that it’s an “all-weather” fund that they plan to invest over time, regardless of market conditions.

Union Square Ventures, like its West-coast peer, is taking a long-term view of the space despite worsening bear market in cryptocurrency. The firm is focusing investments on what Wenger called the “foundational plumbing” stage. For the most part, it’s putting money in the technology supporting applications, instead of the apps or use cases themselves.

“Investors are rationally pouring a lot of money into this sector, because I think people are seeing the winning blockchain here might be worth a trillion, or a couple of trillion dollars,” Wenger said. “It’s not at all crazy to think that.”

Wenger echoed Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who said this week that blockchain could be a bubble, with companies going belly-up at the same rate as the dotcom era. But he said that risk could pay off for investors who get in early, and spread their bets.

“Certainly, for any one particular project there’s an extremely high chance it won’t work,” Wenger said. “As a result, if it works, the rewards will be very high.”



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