Blockchain Capital has raised $7m toward a second investment fund for bitcoin and blockchain technology ventures.
The firm, formerly known as Crypto Currency Partners, is helmed by Bitcoin Foundation board chairman Brock Pierce. It has invested more than $1.2m in 29 bitcoin and blockchain industry startups including Blockstream, Coinbase, Ripple Labs and Xapo to date.
Notably, the rebranding comes at a time when many of the more mainstream companies associating with the technology, including Nasdaq and USAA, are voicing their interest in the blockchain, bitcoin's underlying decentralized ledger.
Managing partner Bart Stephens, however, sees Blockchain Capital's rebranding as a choice that is less on trend and more accurate in representing his firm's current understanding of the sector.
Stephens told CoinDesk:
"We've realized that the currency aspect of bitcoin is too narrow to define the industry. We see blockchain as the foundational technology layer, the software that enables you to exchange value, all different types of assets, whether it's the keys to your car or the key to your house."
In line with this broader mission, Blockchain Capital will also seek to open up its investments to a sister syndicate on AngelList that it said is expected to invest in its portfolio companies.
The company also formally announced the addition of Royal Bank of Scotland and Fiserv director Alison Davis to its advisory board, a position she has held since February 2015. Davis has previously served as a board member for Barclays Global Investments, First Data and Xoom, among others.
Blockchain Capital said it will aim to add an additional $3m to the round as it seeks to advance toward a second closing of the fund.
Rebranding aside, Blockchain Capital and its partners remain convinced that bitcoin will grow to be the largest and most important shared database that enables this new wave of exchange.
While startups including Eris Industries, Hyperledger and OneName are working on permissioned ledgers or alternative blockchains, Stephens indicated his firm will continue to focus on bitcoin and its blockchain.
"We get a lot of questions on other blockchains and altcoins in particular. With the exception of Ripple, we haven't seen a lot of competitive blockchains," Stephens continued. "We see the bitcoin blockchain being the winner."
On this point, Stephens cited the common argument that bitcoin will have a continued network effect as the largest blockchain.
"We believe that even though bitcoin has a PR problem, it's the winner and the most robust ecosystem. The high-quality entrepreneurs, they're starting bitcoin companies, not dogecoin companies."
Stephens also indicated that Blockchain Capital would seek to invest in bitcoin startups focused on the use of bitcoin as a currency. Across both bitcoin and blockchain startups, he suggested the firm would invest at both seed and later-stage rounds.
Non-financial use cases
According to Stephens, the next two to five years will be categorized by a new wave of industry startups focused on the blockchain's use beyond financial services.
"More than $700m has been invested in the blockchain and bitcoin ecosystem, almost all of those companies have been bitcoin related," he said.
"The term blockchain to us means that the blockchain is the infrastructure layer that enables the exchange of value, just like TCP/IP enabled the exchange of data on the Internet. For us, value can be all sort of things."
Stephens described such investments as those that would take blockchain technology beyond its current small user base to reach 100 million or even 1 billion users.
"The first round of bitcoin enthusiasts were fundamental anti-bank or against central authorities. All of those people have already discovered bitcoin, the question is how do you get past that first wave of early adopters," he said, concluding:
"The only question to focus on is, 'How do we get mass adoption?'"
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