Market Maker DWF Labs Emerges as Top Crypto Investor

DWF Labs Managing Partner Andrei Grachev discussed the firm’s investment strategy and continuing risks for the industry.

AccessTimeIconMar 29, 2023 at 7:50 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:11 a.m. UTC
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Investment in crypto companies, which poured in at a record pace during the 2021 bull market, slowed to a near stop as the bear market began and headline-grabbing scandals rocked the industry.

However, along with a few feisty venture capital firms, market maker DWF Labs, which has operated in the crypto space since 2018, has stepped in with a steady wave of investments.

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  • “We believe that this bearish market – this turbulent market – is the best time to join the investment space,” DWF Labs managing partner Andrei Grachev told CoinDesk in an interview. “We accumulated enough funds from our profits to invest in projects now.”

    DWF Labs has offices in Singapore, Switzerland, the British Virgin Islands, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea and Hong Kong. The firm is an affiliate of Digital Wave Finance (DWF), a global crypto trading player that trades in spot and derivatives markets on over 40 top exchanges.

    As an investor, DWF Labs prefers to participate through token purchases and favors infrastructure projects, including layer one and layer two developments. The firm is also interested in artificial intelligence (AI)-based projects and gamified finance (GameFi). DWF has recently backed a $40 million round for “alternative internet” provider Tomi, a $20 million fundraise for derivatives trading platform Synthetix and a new $40 million raise for AI-focused crypto protocol, to name a few.

    Infrastructure projects and consumer-facing systems that make crypto more accessible for mass adoption are key areas during the bear market, said Grachev.

    Market risks

    Market makers are trading firms that use their own money to make bets on tokens and take the opposite position on trades on exchanges, enabling investors to enter or exit the market quickly. The collapse of centralized exchange FTX – thanks to liquidity issues first revealed in a CoinDesk report – likely removed smaller market makers that were too exposed. Exposure to centralized exchanges is part of market making, as decentralized finance (DeFi) tends to offer less flexibility, said Grachev.

    U.S. regulators are a continuing threat to the crypto industry and centralized exchanges. In the latest salvo, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) sued dominant crypto exchange Binance and its founder Changpeng Zhao, alleging the company knowingly offered unregistered crypto derivatives products, breaking federal law.

    “It seems that the crypto market is going to be divided into the U.S. market and then outside the U.S.,” Grachev said. “We are mostly concentrated on Asian markets and not on U.S. exchanges. We do trading on U.S. exchanges but no market making. It’s a huge risk. I’m pretty sure that most of the market makers will follow this way.”

    CORRECTION (March 30, 18:24 UTC): Corrects date of DWF's first work in the crypto space.

    Edited by James Rubin.


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    Brandy Betz

    Brandy covered crypto-related venture capital deals for CoinDesk.

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