A startup that specializes in the trading of blockchain-based assets has raised a $10m fund backed by Andreessen Horowitz (A16z), Boost VC and Union Square Ventures (USV), among other undisclosed investors.
Led by Coinbase veteran Olaf Carlson-Wee, Polychain Capital intends to invest in so-called "protocol tokens" or alternative assets that like bitcoin, have both an underlying protocol and a tradeable asset that manages access to a digital ledger or application.
In conversation with us, Carlson-Wee described the fund as one that would seek to offer investors exposure to an actively managed portfolio of blockchain-based assets.
Notably, Carlson-Wee credited the success of alternative blockchains like ethereum as driving interest in the fund. While there has been dramatic growth in the price of its native asset, little of this value has been accessible to traditional VCs, he said.
"I think these tokens are very important, they directly monetize the open-source founders and founding teams at a protocol level. We've already seen many founders of blockchain networks get rich based on their creation."
Carlson-Wee indicated that Polychain will not disclose its investments, but that it won't be using its potentially outsized position to influece day-to-day market movements.
"I'm trying to take a position very early on in projects that I believe could truly become the infrastructure of the future internet, or app tokens that could disrupt major centralized web services," he said.
The bet is the latest that finds A16z and USV teaming up for an investment that marks a turning point for blockchain technology business models.
In the past, both firms have backed startups including OpenBazaar, a decentralized e-commerce marketplace, and Mediachain, a metadata protocol for content sharing.
In 2016, nearly $200m has been raised in initial coin offerings (ICOs) or public token sales, according to CoinDesk data, with the majoriy (nearly $150m) dedicated to the failed DAO project.