Solana’s Macalinao Brothers Double Down on Crypto Venture Fund

Crypto VCs told CoinDesk that building projects and investing in them is a tricky mix.

AccessTimeIconJun 27, 2022 at 10:03 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 4:23 p.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global event for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

Solana’s most prominent brother-developer duo are launching their own venture capital fund.

Dylan and Ian Macalinao, who are best known for creating stablecoin swapping protocol Saber, are rebranding their developer collective, Ship Capital. Protagonist, as the fund is now known, has raised at least $33 million, according to its website and regulatory documents.

  • Bitcoin ETFs Are Still 'Wildly Successful': Kraken Head of Strategy
    Bitcoin ETFs Are Still 'Wildly Successful': Kraken Head of Strategy
  • Wormhole’s W Token Has a 999% Weekly Return; Why VanEck Is Bullish on Ethereum Layer 2s
    Wormhole’s W Token Has a 999% Weekly Return; Why VanEck Is Bullish on Ethereum Layer 2s
  • Why the NEAR foundation Chose Eigenlayer as a Security Partner
    Why the NEAR foundation Chose Eigenlayer as a Security Partner
  • Three Crypto Predictions in 2024
    Three Crypto Predictions in 2024
  • The Saber brothers’ new push means two prolific Solana ecosystem contributors will now officially split their time between building crypto projects and investing in them.

    That sparked some concern among the space’s more entrenched VCs; multiple told CoinDesk that doing both efforts well requires “focus” that’s hard to find.

    "I don't think it inspires confidence that they're committed to the protocol, but it is commonly accepted, with lots of prominent examples," a third VC said, naming Robert Leshner and Tarun Chitra’s Robot Ventures as one.

    Protagonist lists four people with the title “co-founder and GP” – brothers Dylan and Ian, plus fintech company Pipe’s CEO, Henry Hurst, and George Bousis, a self-described angel investor. Corporate attorney Sevan Avakian is Protagonist’s general counsel and partner, and Jiani Chen is an investment partner, the website said Sunday. Monday night it had dropped the "General Partner" descriptions for the brothers, Hurst and Bousis.

    “Protagonist is building and investing in future-defining crypto companies and protocols,” the website said. It has so far deployed into layer 1 blockchain contender Aptos, a programmable non-fungible token (NFT) startup called Cardinal, the neobank Cogni and decentralized finance platform Delta One.

    The rebranding of Ship Capital (regulatory documents capture the name change) reflects its shift from a GitHub contributor collaborative into a bonafide venture capital firm.

    That pivot has not come naturally: both brothers have publicly stated their “group of friends” who coded was simply that.

    “It’s not a VC, and we as an entity have never made any investments, nor do we plan to any time soon,” Ian tweeted last November. Two months prior, Dylan had said much the same.

    Corporate records indicate “any time soon” was not long at all. “Ship Capital Labs US, LP” registered in Delaware in late January 2022; it recognized its name change to “Protagonist US LP” in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on May 23.

    Ship Capital previously acknowledged making a venture investment in Delta One.


    Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

    CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

    Danny Nelson

    Danny is CoinDesk's Managing Editor for Data & Tokens. He owns BTC, ETH and SOL.

    Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.

    Read more about