Aave Founder Joins Variant Fund as a Venture Partner

Stani Kulechov will remain at the helm of Aave while also helping Variant source deals and work with founders.

Mar 5, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:22 p.m. UTC

Stani Kulechov, founder of decentralized finance (DeFi) money market Aave, is joining Variant Fund, a cryptocurrency investing firm betting on the concept of the ownership economy.

"At Variant, we pride ourselves on helping founders build community for their community-owned networks, and there are very few people in the world that have more expertise in this dimension than Stani," Variant's Spencer Noon told CoinDesk via email.

Kulechov has been one of the most active seed investors in the DeFi space. working to foster composability across DeFi projects – in other words, enabling developers to plug into other applications permissionlessly.

He will join Variant as a venture partner but will remain in his role with Aave.

"Stani will be working with us on a part-time basis to help source new investment opportunities and collaborate closely with Variant's existing portfolio founders," Noon wrote, adding that the team anticipates he will tend to invest alongside Variant as an angel.

DeFi's growth

All told, nearly $40 billion in digital assets are locked up in various DeFi protocols, off slightly from the peak in February, according to data provider DeFi Pulse. While that’s roughly equivalent to a midsize bank in the U.S., the figure has swelled 40x from a year ago as users were lured in by a boom driven by projects giving away free "governance tokens" to all users, which proved to have surprisingly high values. 

Built on the Ethereum blockchain, Aave serves as a key anchor in the sector. It currently holds about $4.75 billion of crypto collateral, the third most value locked of any DeFi protocol, according to DeFi Pulse. 

Also joining Variant Fund as an adviser is Cooper Turley. Turley is well known as a content creator throughout crypto, including writing for The Defiant. He's currently a part of the Audius Project and an active participant in several other DeFi communities. 

"Crypto is now part of the creator toolkit and The Ownership Economy is quickly becoming an important wedge in consumer products," Variant founder Jesse Walden wrote in a statement. 

Variant Fund formed in July, at the height of 2020's “DeFi summer,” animated by the thesis that people who make platforms and products stronger can and should share in their growth. The firm's portfolio includes risk management platform Cozy and the crypto-native unit-of-account project Reflexer Labs.

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