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Reflecting on Coinbase Ventures’ report 12 months in 2021

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

2021 was a historic 12 months for each crypto markets and enterprise capital funding. Pushed partly by institutional inflows, Bitcoin soared to new highs to begin the 12 months, the complete market adopted go well with nearing a report $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 report 12 months for Coinbase Ventures, with slightly 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 12 months of operation.

Coinbase Ventures is among the many most energetic company enterprise funds in operation, with the mandate of accelerating financial freedom world wide by supporting the main entrepreneurs and initiatives 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 are essential to the area’s general development.

On this version of Round The Block, we’ll peer into the longer term by 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.

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

Protocols & Web3 infrastructure

2021 noticed crypto attain new heights by way of utility, notably within the nascent “Web3” area, which we typically consider as a trustless, permissionless, and decentralized web that leverages blockchain know-how: basically, the plumbing that underpins every part 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 increase to different Layer 1s like Solana, Polygon, Avalanche, Terra, Stream, 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 energetic in investing in initiatives 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 numerous zero-knowledge options (Aleo, MobileCoin, and a 3rd TBA).

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

Given investments remodeled the 12 months, in 2022 we anticipate to see Web3 mature throughout a number of Layer 1 and Layer 2 ecosystems with UX that extra intently resembles Web2 purposes. Moreover, we anticipate to see the continued flourishing of DAOs within the 12 months 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 12 months. A lot of this exercise came about 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 development.

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

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

In 2022, the good contract wars will rage on as Layer 1s and Layer 2s combat for consumer 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 12 months we see establishments enter the fray by way of “permissioned DeFi”, full with KYC’d consumer swimming pools and on-chain attestations.

NFT / Metaverse

2021 was additionally a 12 months that noticed the fast rise of NFTs and renewed curiosity in “the metaverse.” Initiatives 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” section, 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 equivalent to Stream (MomentRanks, Everlasting GG) and Solana (Magic Eden, Solanalysis).

Ventures has now invested closely within the NFT “utility” section — one through which NFT property increase to new kinds of mediums equivalent 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 prime 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 have now a sequence of decentralized, interconnected digital worlds with absolutely functioning economies. In 2022, search for a number of recent gaming titles and purposes, together with these launched by conventional gaming studios. Additionally anticipate metaverse purposes to increase 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 12 months, 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 anticipate the trade’s collective funding made in dev tooling to pay dividends within the years to return. With all the 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 centralized platforms, and as such, centralized finance (CeFi) stays an energetic class. We consider 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 energetic traders in crypto monetary service suppliers in all places from LatAm, Pan-Africa, MENA, South Asia, Europe, and North America.

The 12 months additionally noticed a transfer in direction of conventional autos 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 initiatives 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 realize crypto publicity by centralized exchanges and conventional funding autos and fintech platforms in each the US and overseas. We anticipate this to be an ongoing theme in 2022.

2022 & past

Macro uncertainty has costs falling sharply into the brand new 12 months, 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 world wide, the maturation of the Web3 stack, and an explosion of thrilling new use circumstances throughout DeFi, NFTs, DAOs, gaming, and the metaverse, this trade seems to be hitting escape velocity.

Simply because the growth of 2017 fueled investments that laid the groundwork for the purposes which are thriving in the present day, what do you assume the report $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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