The Rockefeller family’s venture-capital arm is moving into cryptocurrencies. Venrock (“Venture” plus “Rockefellers”) is partnering with the cryptocurrency investor group, CoinFund, to help entrepreneurs launch blockchain-based businesses.
“We wanted to partner with this team that has been making investments and actually helping to architect a number of different crypto economies and crypto token-based projects,” Venrock partner David Pakman told Fortune.
Venrock reportedly has $2.6 billion in assets under management. The Rockefeller dynasty is one of the richest families in the world, with an estimated net worth topping $1 trillion.
Not Interested In Short-Term Profits
Pakman said Venrock is less concerned about short-term profits than in making a long-term investment in blockchain technology and the virtual currency industry.
“There are a lot of crypto traders in the market,” Pakman said. “There are a lot of cryptocurrency hedge funds. This is different. To us, it looks a little bit more like venture capital.”
CoinFund was founded in 2015 and is based in Brooklyn, New York. The group has invested in a number of blockchain projects, including Kik, the instant messenger app maker.
Another CoinFund client is CoinList, a technology platform that helps companies launch regulation-compliant ICOs.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has recently cracked down on fraudulent ICOs. Despite the SEC’s harsh take-downs of these allegedly bogus ICOs, SEC Chair Jay Clayton insisted the agency does not think all ICOs are frauds.
Clayton said ridding the nascent crypto ecosystem of con artists will benefit the industry by getting rid of the scammers who give the space a bad name.
“If we don’t stop the fraudsters, there is a serious risk that the regulatory pendulum – the regulatory actions – will be so severe that they will restrict the capacity of this new security,” Clayton reasoned.
Marriage of Old Money and New Tech
CoinFund co-founder Jake Brukhman told Fortune his company is excited about the influx of Establishment Money into the budding crypto market, saying it will boost New York’s cryptocurrency scene.
“We’ll be working closely with [VenRock] to help mentor, advise, and support teams in the space,” Brukhman said. “We’re trying to cultivate a unique synergy between teams as we see more experienced founders and more traditional tech startups taking up blockchain.”
The entry of the financial Old Guard like the Rockefellers is another signal that cryptocurrencies and blockchain — the technology that undergirds bitcoin — have gotten too hyped to ignore and too big to dismiss.
Indeed, many of the top business schools in the world, including Wharton and Stanford, have expanded their MBA course offerings to include classes on bitcoin, crypto, and blockchain.
“We’re at the point where there’s a critical mass to teach this domain,” said Kevin Werbach, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “There will be a real phenomenon in business for the foreseeable future. And five years down the road, there won’t be too many major business schools that don’t offer similar classes.”
Rockefeller Center image from Shutterstock.