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Reflecting on Coinbase Ventures’ document yr in 2021

Around the Block from Coinbase Ventures sheds gentle on key developments in crypto. Written by Connor Dempsey, Ryan Yi & Justin Mart.

2021 was a historic yr for each crypto markets and enterprise capital funding. Pushed partly by institutional inflows, Bitcoin soared to new highs to start out the yr, the whole market adopted go well with nearing a document $3T market cap in November. In the meantime, $30B in venture funding poured into the area: greater than all prior years of crypto’s historical past mixed.

2021 was additionally a document yr for Coinbase Ventures, with just below 150 offers, averaging a brand new deal each 2.5 days. On a cumulative foundation, greater than 90% of the capital Coinbase Ventures has deployed since inception was deployed in 2021, reflecting an accelerated tempo of exercise in our fourth yr of operation.

Coinbase Ventures is among the many most lively company enterprise funds in operation, with the mandate of accelerating financial freedom around the globe by supporting the main entrepreneurs and tasks within the ecosystem. In the end, we see crypto and Web3 as a rising tide that lifts all boats, Coinbase included, and Coinbase Ventures is devoted to creating investments which can be essential to the area’s total progress.

On this version of Round The Block, we’ll peer into the long run by way of the lens of Coinbase Ventures’ 2021 exercise. (Learn the way Ventures aligns with Coinbase and its prospects here).

Coinbase Enterprise’s portfolio now consists of over 250 firms, and broadly breaks down throughout the next verticals.

Let’s break down the pie, slice by slice.

Protocols & Web3 infrastructure

2021 noticed crypto attain new heights by way of utility, significantly within the nascent “Web3” area, which we typically consider as a trustless, permissionless, and decentralized web that leverages blockchain expertise: primarily, the plumbing that underpins every little thing from DeFi, NFTs, metaverses, and DAOs. On the backside of the Web3 stack sit Layer 1 protocols, led by Ethereum, however 2021 noticed Web3 start to develop to different Layer 1s like Solana, Polygon, Avalanche, Terra, Move, amongst dozens of others.

To assist scale existing Layer 1s and allow greater throughput, we supported Layer 2 options together with Matter Labs, Optimism, and Arbitrum. As a number of Layer 1s have proliferated, so has the demand to securely and simply transfer funds throughout blockchains. As such, Ventures’ was lively in investing in tasks working to facilitate this cross-chain motion, together with Biconomy, Movr, LayerZero, Chainflip, and extra. We additionally noticed and funded new protocols working to convey higher privateness to Web3 by way of numerous zero-knowledge options (Aleo, MobileCoin, and a 3rd TBA).

We had been additionally lively throughout the infrastructure layer of the Web3 stack: primitives that kind the spine of person purposes. Particularly, applied sciences that introduce requirements to Web3 for knowledge storage (Arweave), messaging (XMTP), and id (Spruce). Provided that 2021 was a great year for DAOs, we had been lively throughout infrastructure tasks centered on enabling DAO creation/incorporation (Syndicate, Utopia), discovery/participation (Snapshot/Consensys’ Metamask), payroll/operations (Diagonal), and coordination (Orca).

Given investments revamped the yr, in 2022 we count on to see Web3 mature throughout a number of Layer 1 and Layer 2 ecosystems with UX that extra carefully resembles Web2 purposes. Moreover, we count on to see the continued flourishing of DAOs within the yr forward, in addition to higher privateness options for Web3 purposes.


Whereas 2021 hinted at a future the place Web3 exercise takes place throughout a number of Layer 1 and Layer 2 platforms, DeFi exercise already started its migration over the course of the yr. A lot of this exercise happened inside EVM compatible chains (Avalanche, Polygon, BSC and many others.) and Layer 2 environments (Arbitrum, Optimism). In the meantime, non-EVM chains (Solana, Terra, Cosmos, Polkadot and many others.) additionally noticed spectacular progress.

We’re believers within the multichain future, and though we remained most lively inside Ethereum’s DeFi ecosystem, we additionally invested throughout Solana (Orca, Solend), Cosmos (Umee), Algorand (People), Polkadot (Acala, Moonbeam), NEAR, Polygon and Bitcoin. The multichain future of France seems shiny, with nearly each monetary primitive one may think about in growth.

Whereas DeFi made nice strides in 2021, exploits of those nascent monetary protocols hampered the ecosystem, amounting to over $10B. Higher person safety stays paramount, which is why Coinbase Ventures supported DeFi insurance financial protocols together with Neptune Mutual, Danger Harbor, Cozy Finance, and Nayms.

In 2022, the sensible contract wars will rage on as Layer 1s and Layer 2s struggle for person and developer mindshare. Hacking dangers will persist however we’ll see elevated maturity in DeFi insurance coverage options. Lastly, it’s shaping as much as be the yr we see establishments enter the fray by way of “permissioned DeFi”, full with KYC’d person swimming pools and on-chain attestations.

NFT / Metaverse

2021 was additionally a yr that noticed the speedy rise of NFTs and renewed curiosity in “the metaverse.” Tasks like CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Membership took NFT gross sales from $200M in 2020 to a staggering $25B in 2021. In the meantime, NFT primarily based recreation Axie Infinity put play-to-earn gaming on the map as folks within the Philippines had been capable of flip the sport into a full time job. And elsewhere, Fb’s rebrand to “Meta” catalyzed pleasure across the metaverse.

Largely, NFTs spent 2021 of their “V0” part, with most exercise centered round easy shopping for and promoting on marketplaces like OpenSea and Rarible. 2021 additionally noticed NFTs emerge throughout L1/L2 ecosystems comparable to Move (MomentRanks, Everlasting GG) and Solana (Magic Eden, Solanalysis).

Ventures has now invested closely within the NFT “utility” part — one through which NFT property develop to new kinds of mediums comparable to audio (Royal, Mint Songs, Sturdy), avatars (Genies, OFF), AR (Anima, Jambo), and gaming/GameFi (Ancient8, GuildFi). This can permit fascinating social options to be layered on high of the programmatic recognition of NFTs (Gallery).

These NFT and gaming investments can broadly be bucketed with the metaverse, as they inch us nearer to a doable future the place we now have a sequence of decentralized, interconnected digital worlds with totally functioning economies. In 2022, search for a bunch of recent gaming titles and purposes, together with these launched by conventional gaming studios. Additionally count on metaverse purposes to develop from each decentralized initiatives like Decentraland and the Sandbox and incumbent Web2 firms like Microsoft/Activision and Meta.

Platform & Developer Instruments

With out builders, there can be no crypto or Web3 purposes for anybody to make use of. As such, help for the tooling that builders have to make crypto and Web3 thrive is a crucial a part of advancing the ecosystem.

Over the yr, we adopted the “developer journey” from staging (Tenderly), collaboration (Radicle), question (Covalent), audit (Certik, OpenZeppelin, Certora) and real-time simulation/monitoring (Chaos Labs, Gauntlet). We additionally invested in developer toolkits like API suppliers (Alchemy, Consensys’ Infura).

We count on the business’s collective funding made in dev tooling to pay dividends within the years to return. With the entire builders pouring into Web3 from Web2, they’re sorely wanted.


A lot of the worth that finds its manner into crypto initially does so by way of centralized platforms, and as such, centralized finance (CeFi) stays an lively class. We imagine that crypto is inherently world and there’s a want for localized platforms that function onramps throughout distinct regulatory, banking, and infrastructure regimes. For this reason in 2021, we had been lively traders in crypto monetary service suppliers all over the place from LatAm, Pan-Africa, MENA, South Asia, Europe, and North America.

The yr additionally noticed a transfer in the direction of conventional automobiles for crypto publicity — IRAs, IAs, ETFs, Trusts, and many others. — punctuated by the approval of the BTC Futures ETF within the US. Coinbase Ventures actively invested in asset managers and brokers together with AltoIRA, Onramp, Valkyrie, ForUsAll, Ledn, and One River Digital. We had been additionally traders in numerous CeFi “picks and shovels”, with follow-on investments in TaxBit and CoinTracker, which automate crypto tax reporting throughout platforms. As well as, we supported tasks serving to startups combine crypto with conventional fintech choices, together with Paxos, Tribal Credit score, and Meow.

2021 set the stage for extra regulated and compliant methods for institutional and particular person investor capital to achieve crypto publicity by way of centralized exchanges and conventional funding automobiles and fintech platforms in each the US and overseas. We count on this to be an ongoing theme in 2022.

2022 & past

Macro uncertainty has costs falling sharply into the brand new yr, however one factor is for certain: this isn’t the crypto ecosystem of 2018. Between the perfect performing asset class of the final decade being far more accessible to traders around the globe, the maturation of the Web3 stack, and an explosion of thrilling new use instances throughout DeFi, NFTs, DAOs, gaming, and the metaverse, this business seems to be hitting escape velocity.

Simply because the growth of 2017 fueled investments that laid the groundwork for the purposes which can be thriving in the present day, what do you assume the document $30B funneled into crypto and Web3 in 2021 will yield? The market seems unsure within the close to time period, however the future seems brighter then it’s ever been.

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