The number of unique investors reached a high of almost 300 in 2015, before dipping back down in 2016.
Bitcoin and blockchain investors may be signaling caution.
While the number of total deals grew from 143 in 2014 to 161 in 2015, deals fell to 132 in 2016. We took a look at the most active investors putting funding into bitcoin and blockchain startups using CB Insights data to rank venture capital firms by number of unique investments. We also dug into the categories where bitcoin-focused investors are placing bets on the nascent cryptocurrency and underlying infrastructure.
We define bitcoin and blockchain broadly to include cryptocurrency-focused companies involved in the trading, storing, or usage of cryptocurrencies — primarily bitcoin — and companies developing industry-specific applications of blockchain technology. At the most basic level, blockchains are cryptographically secured, distributed ledgers, first developed as the underlying infrastructure of bitcoin. For more information on our classifications and definitions, see our bitcoin and blockchain market map.
Overall, the number of unique investors funding bitcoin and blockchain companies exploded in the past few years, growing from 19 in 2012 to nearly 300 in 2015 — an average of 187% growth annually. However, 2016 saw that number fall to 217, a decline of 27%.
Some takeaways from our most active investor list:
- Digital Currency Group claimed the top spot on the most active bitcoin and blockchain investor list. The venture capital firm, holding company, and cryptocurrency ETF operator has invested in 65+ unique bitcoin and blockchain companies since 2012, including three of the top five most well-funded companies in the space: Circle, Coinbase, and Ripple.
- Blockchain Capital took the second spot on the list, with 58 unique investments. The firm’s most recent deal went to BitPesa, a Kenyan merchant-focused payments platform, in a $2.5M Q1’17 Series A that saw participation from four other investors on this list.
- Tied for fourth are Pantera, 500 Startups, and RRE Ventures. All three are investors in financial services blockchain firm Chain, which has raised a total of $43M in three rounds. Pantera and 500 Startups were both investors in ChangeTip (originally ChangeCoin), before the micropayments platform was acquired in April 2016 by Airbnb.
- Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, two of the other top investors in the space, teamed up to invest in Polychain Capital, a cryptocurrency-focused hedge fund that invests in initial coin offerings (ICOs) and which made a recent investment in blockchain smart contract developer Tezos.
Click the image to enlarge. The image showcases select investments from each of the top investors.
*Exited companies are included in the above graphic. Dead companies, or companies that have pivoted away from bitcoin and/or blockchain technology are not included in the above graphic. Accelerators including Boost.vc were not included.
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Three investment firms from the most active investor list are focused specifically on bitcoin and blockchain companies: Digital Currency Group, Blockchain Capital, and Fenbushi Capital.
Since 2012, Digital Currency Group and Blockchain Capital have funded bitcoin and blockchain companies addressing diverse use-cases, primarily in capital markets and financial services, enterprise services and currencies, exchanges and cryptocurrency trading, and wallets and money services. The two firms have fewer companies in their respective portfolios focused on social platforms and browsers, or merchant services. Meanwhile, Fenbushi Capital has focused almost exclusively on capital markets and financial services, although the venture firm holds a much smaller portfolio of companies.
To illustrate the respective investment strategies of these three firms, we examined their investments by category in the graphic below.
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