Ego Death Capital, a new venture capital firm dedicated to the Bitcoin ecosystem, is raising $30 million for its first fund.
“There was a fundamental shift underway when we decided to take this plunge,” Ego Death partner Nico Lechuga told CoinDesk in an interview. “You had the Taproot upgrade on the main chain of Bitcoin. Lightning as a scaling solution was really coming to maturity.”
Lechuga was referring to the fact that last month Lighting Labs, the developer of Bitcoin scaling layer Lightning Network, launched a test version of Taro, new software that allows Bitcoin developers to issue assets such as stablecoins on the blockchain. Taro is based on Taproot, a Bitcoin upgrade that activated late last year and gave developers an expanded toolbox to build projects.
“We were starting to see entrepreneurs pouring into Bitcoin from not only other ecosystems but other disciplines – people from the energy space, people from the technology space,” Lechuga continued.
Read more: What Is Bitcoin?
The Ego Death Capital LP opened to investments on Sept. 2 and had raised $11,425,000 toward the $30 million goal from 28 investors as of Sept. 15, according to a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Capital for the fund came from its trio of partners, high net worth individuals, family offices and institutional investors, said Lechuga. Once all of the capital is raised, the fund plans to invest in 12 to 15 companies with an average check size of $1 million to $1.5 million. Half of the fund capital will go toward follow-on investments in the original batch of portfolio companies, according to Lechuga.
Ego Death technically made its first investment two months before the fund started raising capital. The firm invested an unspecified amount in Fedi, a mobile app powered by bitcoin custodian Fedimint that aims to make it easier for people to buy the digital asset.
Lechuga previously worked as a senior research associate at private equity firm Spencer Barnor Capital. Ego Death’s other partners are serial tech entrepreneur Jeff Booth and Andi Pitt, who spent several years at Goldman Sachs including a stint as vice president of trading. The firm also has a three-person advisory board: Lyn Alden Schwartzer, an investment researcher and board member at Swan Bitcoin; "The Investor's Podcast" show host and founder Preston Pysh; and Pablo Vernandez, head of research and development at Swan Bitcoin.
Ego Death Capital gets its distinctive name from a concept in meditation (and psychedelics) circles. “Ego death” refers to a phase of self-surrender ahead of a transition; in this case, the rise of Bitcoin as an abundant, accessible financial system. Lechuga and Andi Pitt stressed to CoinDesk the importance of bitcoin in emerging markets, particularly those with large unbanked or underbanked populations. Reaching those populations requires a continued buildout of the Bitcoin ecosystem.
“We’re very focused on what we’re calling layer 3 (the application layer) and sort of layer 2.5, the infrastructure,” said Pitt.
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