Sequoia Jumps Into Token Plays With Investment in DeFi Project Parallel

June filings show the VC giant has a relationship with Coinbase Custody.

Nov 8, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Nov 8, 2021 at 4:04 p.m. UTC

Sequoia Capital is backing a seven-figure token round for decentralized finance (DeFi) lending project Parallel.

The round, which values the Polkadot-based protocol at $250 million, comes less than two weeks after Sequoia pledged to restructure its investing playbook to, in part, more aggressively court crypto plays. Fellow venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) did the same in 2019; it now raises multibillion-dollar funds exclusively for crypto.

Whether Sequoia will move as aggressively as a16z is unclear, though the investment in Parallel speaks to a willingness to invest in early-stage crypto teams.

Parallel is building a fast-growing project on Polkadot, a crypto network that is not yet fully launched.

“We are incredibly excited about the vision and potential of DeFi,” Sequoia Partner Josephine Chen said in a statement. Chen said Parallel is positioned to help “legacy firms” more readily engage in the space.

Parallel is one of the many projects building DeFi toolkits for retail and institutional crypto clients. The startup raised in August at a $150 million valuation. The project has increased its user base 400% in the months since, Parallel founder Yubo Ruan told CoinDesk.

Ruan called this cash infusion a “strategic” round to onboard high-profile backers including Sequoia, Founders Fund and Shima Capital. He said this is one of the first times Sequoia has invested in a token round (it co-led with Founders Fund).

Tokens or no, Sequoia is not exactly a newcomer to crypto.

Its Chinese and Indian arms have dabbled in crypto projects before. The U.S. wing apparently has, too: a review of public filings showed the firm has worked with Coinbase Custody since at least late June. A spokesperson for Sequoia did not immediately comment.

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Danny is CoinDesk's deputy business editor. He owns BTC, ETH and SOL.