Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. is jumping into the institutional bitcoin game with a $100 million investment in bitcoin and a $5 million equity stake in NYDIG.

The twin plays – both revealed in a Thursday press release – give MassMutual direct exposure to the cryptocurrency’s price swings and signal it’s betting that other big fish will follow suit. NYDIG is one of the fastest-growing institutional crypto shops with $2.3 billion under management. It provided MassMutual with the $100 million buy.

Without specifically explaining why it saw bitcoin as a reasonable investment, MassMutual told the Wall Street Journal it was seeking “measured yet meaningful” exposure to an increasingly digital world.

MassMutual’s $100 million BTC bet is barely a drop in its general investment account’s hulking $235 billion money bucket. Coming from a 169-year-old insurance institution in the business of measuring risk it could wield an outsize influence on bitcoin’s perception among mainstream investors.

That storyline has already been playing out all year.

The life insurance company is the latest institutional stalwart to join bitcoin’s march into the financial mainstream this year. Since the pandemic took hold, publicly traded corporations and storied fund managers have been embracing the cryptocurrency at a pace not seen at any other point in its history.

But with its dual investment in NYDIG, the firm that facilitated this buy, MassMutual is moving to embrace the infrastructure powering institutional adoption.

NYDIG has been forthright in its courting of the institutional class. Wednesday, the firm hired crypto banker Patrick Sells to lead its crypto-services outreach efforts. It regularly raises tens of millions of dollars for crypto funds, including a $100 million bitcoin fund filed over Thanksgiving. That mammoth vehicle, which CoinDesk reported at the time, only had a single investor.

NYIDG declined to comment on the investor of that Fund.

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