Crypto Hedge Fund Neural Capital Closes After Losing Half Its Money

Neural Capital, a hedge fund that traded cryptocurrency assets, has quietly shuttered.

Aug 3, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 9:39 a.m. UTC

Neural Capital, a hedge fund that traded cryptocurrency assets, has quietly shuttered. 

  • The fund has lost half its money since launching in 2017 and is in the process of refunding leftover money to investors, according to three people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified.
  • The sources said the fund’s crypto-assets were liquidated in December and some cash is still being held up in escrow, months longer than expected.
  • By 2019, Neural Capital managed over $13 million that drew investments of $250,000 on up from over 40 investors, including Greylock partner Joshua Elman and Expa partner Hooman Radfar, according to financial records.
  • The fund withdrew its registration with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in December and stopped submitting obligatory filings to the state of California and the federal agency this year.
  • It joins a horde of funds to close in 2020, shy of the three-year mark, after forming around the time of the 2017 crypto boom — notably, Adaptive Capital, Prime Factor Capital and Tetras Capital.

The fund’s managers, Arij “Ari” Nazir and Christopher Keshian, were new to the hedge fund industry and involved in more than one fund when they started Neural Capital.

  • Nazir was a University of Virginia master’s student who interned for the White House in the spring of 2015 during Barack Obama’s second presidential term.
  • Keshian, who graduated from the University of Virginia’s business school with Nazir in 2015, was chief executive officer of Decentralized Capital Corporation, a Panamanian fiat-to-crypto money transmitter, until 2017. 
  • While managing the fund, Nazir and Keshian were advisors of Protocol Ventures, an institutional investor in multiple cryptocurrency funds that included Neural Capital, whose logo has been removed from Protocol’s website.
  • Keshian also started Apex Capital, a Protocol-like crypto fund-of-funds, with Joseph M. Bradley, Neural Capital’s head of investor relations, as they were getting Neural Capital off the ground. Apex Capital failed to launch after unsuccessfully attempting to raise $100 million in assets through a digital token sale to meet minimum invested fund amount requirements.
  • Keshian left Neural Capital in July 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile, after what the sources described as a falling-out with Nazir.

Keshian told CoinDesk he has not kept in touch with Nazir since leaving Neural Capital. “Right now, I’m working on a project that is still very much under wraps,” said Keshian, declining to comment further.

Nazir did not respond to requests for comment.

UPDATE (Aug. 4, 19:10 UTC): Added a more precise date and source for Keshian's departure from Neural Capital.

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