Coinbase users can now withdraw Bitcoin SV following BCH fork

If you’re a Coinbase user, you may have seen some new tokens on your account. The Bitcoin Cash chain split into two different chains back in November. It means that if you held Bitcoin Cash on November 15, you became the lucky owner of Bitcoin SV and Bitcoin ABC. And Coinbase just started handing out […]

If you’re a Coinbase user, you may have seen some new tokens on your account. The Bitcoin Cash chain split into two different chains back in November. It means that if you held Bitcoin Cash on November 15, you became the lucky owner of Bitcoin SV and Bitcoin ABC. And Coinbase just started handing out Bitcoin SV to its users if you’re involved in the split.

The split happened because Bitcoin Cash developers couldn’t agree on an upgrade. Some developers backed an upgrade to the code called Bitcoin ABC while others defended a more conservative update dubbed Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (Bitcoin SV).

Some miner pools decided to adopt one of those forks while others adopted the other — and it led to a split. Miners all started with the same chain, which means that a wallet address that held 2.7 Bitcoin Cash was credited with 2.7 Bitcoin ABC and Bitcoin SV on November 15.

Shortly after the split, it became clear that Bitcoin ABC had more support than Bitcoin SV. So it quickly became what we now call Bitcoin Cash again (I know, it’s a mess).

If you control your own private keys, you may have sent and received BCH and BSV over the past few months. But if you held your BCH on Coinbase, your BSV were nowhere to be found — that is until today.

Coinbase doesn’t plan to support BSV trading for now. So you can only withdraw your BSV from your Coinbase account, but you can’t buy additional BSV. BSV are currently worth $63 per coin while BCH are worth $122. The company says that there’s no deadline for withdrawing BSV.

It took Coinbase three months to let you control your own cryptocurrencies. It proves once again that you shouldn’t leave your crypto assets on an exchange. It’s best to control your own wallets using a hardware device or at least a secure software wallet.

Coinbase users can now withdraw Bitcoin SV following BCH fork

If you’re a Coinbase user, you may have seen some new tokens on your account. The Bitcoin Cash chain split into two different chains back in November. It means that if you held Bitcoin Cash on November 15, you became the lucky owner of Bitcoin SV and Bitcoin ABC. And Coinbase just started handing out […]

If you’re a Coinbase user, you may have seen some new tokens on your account. The Bitcoin Cash chain split into two different chains back in November. It means that if you held Bitcoin Cash on November 15, you became the lucky owner of Bitcoin SV and Bitcoin ABC. And Coinbase just started handing out Bitcoin SV to its users if you’re involved in the split.

The split happened because Bitcoin Cash developers couldn’t agree on an upgrade. Some developers backed an upgrade to the code called Bitcoin ABC while others defended a more conservative update dubbed Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (Bitcoin SV).

Some miner pools decided to adopt one of those forks while others adopted the other — and it led to a split. Miners all started with the same chain, which means that a wallet address that held 2.7 Bitcoin Cash was credited with 2.7 Bitcoin ABC and Bitcoin SV on November 15.

Shortly after the split, it became clear that Bitcoin ABC had more support than Bitcoin SV. So it quickly became what we now call Bitcoin Cash again (I know, it’s a mess).

If you control your own private keys, you may have sent and received BCH and BSV over the past few months. But if you held your BCH on Coinbase, your BSV were nowhere to be found — that is until today.

Coinbase doesn’t plan to support BSV trading for now. So you can only withdraw your BSV from your Coinbase account, but you can’t buy additional BSV. BSV are currently worth $63 per coin while BCH are worth $122. The company says that there’s no deadline for withdrawing BSV.

It took Coinbase three months to let you control your own cryptocurrencies. It proves once again that you shouldn’t leave your crypto assets on an exchange. It’s best to control your own wallets using a hardware device or at least a secure software wallet.

Atrium, Justin Kan’s legal tech startup, launches a fintech and blockchain division

Atrium, the legal startup co-founder by Justin Kan of Twitch fame, is jumping into the blockchain space today. The company has raised plenty of money — including $65 million from A16z last September — so rather than an ICO or token sale, this is a consultancy business. Atrium uses machine learning to digitize legal documents and develops applications […]

Atrium, the legal startup co-founder by Justin Kan of Twitch fame, is jumping into the blockchain space today.

The company has raised plenty of money — including $65 million from A16z last September — so rather than an ICO or token sale, this is a consultancy business. Atrium uses machine learning to digitize legal documents and develops applications for client use, and now it is officially applying that to fintech and blockchain businesses.

The division has been operating quietly for months and the scope of work that it covers includes the legality and regulatory concerns around tokens, but also business-focused areas including token utility, tokenomics and general blockchain tech.

“We have a bunch of clients wanting to do token offerings and looking into the legality,” Kan told TechCrunch in an interview. “A lot of our advisory work is around the token offering and how it operates.”

The commitment is such that the company is even accepting Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash for payments through crypto processing service BitPay.

While the ICO market has quietened over the past year following to huge valuation losses market-wide, up to 90 percent in some cases with many ICO tokens now effectively worthless, there’s a new anticipation around regulatory-friendly security token offering (STO) options. Coinbase, for one, has backed STO platforms and its CEO Brian Armstrong has spoken of his belief that the cap table of the future is tokenized, allowing company tokens to be freely traded worldwide.

According to Armstrong, Coinbase could potentially host “millions” of STOs in the future.

If even a fraction of that number is to exist, companies will need advisors to help with structure and regulatory compliance. Many legal firms are already making a proverbial killing and, just like its core business, Atrium wants to use its tech-centric platform to offer a more efficient and cheaper alternative to expensive legal firms.

“People are doing private offerings, but the number of ICOs has definitely dropped,” Kan admitted. “Interest, though, has continued to grow, as people try to navigate this new regulatory regime. We spend a lot of time trying to focus on only taking on high-quality clients.”

Atrium Fintech and Blockchain also includes fintech work — as the name implies — but blockchain is likely to account of the majority of client work, so said Ross Barbash, who leads the 10-person team.

“We currently work with a mix of companies across the U.S, with some in Asia and Europe,” he said.

The fintech work has tended to be more U.S-centric at this point, Barbash said, because Atrium’s expertise is particular to licenses at federal and state level in America.

Regulation is, of course, far trickier when it comes to blockchain as it remains a work in progress. The SEC has made periodic statements, often taking legal action to establish expectations and boundaries as it decides how to respond to the explosion of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

“The level of challenge and regulatory frameworks have evaluated blockchain analysis to business level” work rather than simply legal counsel, Barbash explained. “We’re working closely with some regulators to better understand some elements of the ecosystem.”

“With the shift from HODL to BUIDL, we are finding it easier to identify and collaborate with the teams that both have the necessary dev chops and are committed to compliance,” he added via a statement.

Some of Atrium’s disclosed clients include credit card startup Final (which was bought by Goldman Sachs) and solar financial services firm Wunder Capital.

More generally, Kan said that the blockchain and fintech division serves as a blueprint for how Atrium will go after specific verticals. He said that the startup, which now has 150 staff, will spin out different units for specific legal practices.

How students are founding, funding and joining startups

Shawn Xu Contributor Share on Twitter Shawn Xu is a managing partner at The Dorm Room Fund. There has never been a better time to start, join, or fund a startup as a student.  Young founders who want to start companies while still in school have an increasing number of resources to tap into that […]

There has never been a better time to start, join, or fund a startup as a student. 

Young founders who want to start companies while still in school have an increasing number of resources to tap into that exist just for them. Students that want to learn how to build companies can apply to an increasing number of fast-track programs that allow them to gain valuable early stage operating experience. The energy around student entrepreneurship today is incredible. I’ve been immersed in this community as an investor and adviser for some time now, and to say the least, I’m continually blown away by what the next generation of innovators are dreaming up (from Analytical Space’s global data relay service for satellites to Brooklinen’s reinvention of the luxury bed).

Bill Gates in 1973

First, let’s look at student founders and why they’re important. Student entrepreneurs have long been an important foundation of the startup ecosystem. Many students wrestle with how best to learn while in school —some students learn best through lectures, while more entrepreneurial students like author Julian Docks find it best to leave the classroom altogether and build a business instead.

Indeed, some of our most iconic founders are Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, both student entrepreneurs who launched their startups at Harvard and then dropped out to build their companies into major tech giants. A sample of the current generation of marquee companies founded on college campuses include Snap at Stanford ($29B valuation at IPO), Warby Parker at Wharton (~$2B valuation), Rent The Runway at HBS (~$1B valuation), and Brex at Stanford (~$1B valuation).

Some of today’s most celebrated tech leaders built their first ventures while in school — even if some student startups fail, the critical first-time founder experience is an invaluable education in how to build great companies. Perhaps the best example of this that I could find is Drew Houston at Dropbox (~$9B valuation at IPO), who previously founded an edtech startup at MIT that, in his words, provided a: “great introduction to the wild world of starting companies.”

Student founders are everywhere, but the highest concentration of venture-backed student founders can be found at just 5 universities. Based on venture fund portfolio data from the last six years, Harvard, Stanford, MIT, UPenn, and UC Berkeley have produced the highest number of student-founded companies that went on to raise $1 million or more in seed capital. Some prospective students will even enroll in a university specifically for its reputation of churning out great entrepreneurs. This is not to say that great companies are not being built out of other universities, nor does it mean students can’t find resources outside a select number of schools. As you can see later in this essay, there are number of new ways students all around the country can tap into the startup ecosystem. For further reading, Pitchbook produces an excellent report each year that tracks where all entrepreneurs earned their undergraduate degrees.

Student founders have a number of new media resources to turn to. New email newsletters focused on student entrepreneurship like Justine and Olivia Moore’s Accelerated and Kyle Robertson’s StartU offer new channels for young founders to reach large audiences. Justine and Olivia, the minds behind Accelerated, have a lot of street cred— they launched Stanford’s on-campus incubator Cardinal Ventures before landing as investors at CRV.

StartU goes above and beyond to be a resource to founders they profile by helping to connect them with investors (they’re active at 12 universities), and run a podcast hosted by their Editor-in-Chief Johnny Hammond that is top notch. My bet is that traditional media will point a larger spotlight at student entrepreneurship going forward.

New pools of capital are also available that are specifically for student founders. There are four categories that I call special attention to:

  • University-affiliated accelerator programs
  • University-affiliated angel networks
  • Professional venture funds investing at specific universities
  • Professional venture funds investing through student scouts

While it is difficult to estimate exactly how much capital has been deployed by each, there is no denying that there has been an explosion in the number of programs that address the pre-seed phase. A sample of the programs available at the Top 5 universities listed above are in the graphic below — listing every resource at every university would be difficult as there are so many.

One alumni-centric fund to highlight is the Alumni Ventures Group, which pools LP capital from alumni at specific universities, then launches individual venture funds that invest in founders connected to those universities (e.g. students, alumni, professors, etc.). Through this model, they’ve deployed more than $200M per year! Another highlight has been student scout programs — which vary in the degree of autonomy and capital invested — but essentially empower students to identify and fund high-potential student-founded companies for their parent venture funds. On campuses with a large concentration of student founders, it is not uncommon to find student scouts from as many as 12 different venture funds actively sourcing deals (as is made clear from David Tao’s analysis at UC Berkeley).

Investment Team at Rough Draft Ventures

In my opinion, the two institutions that have the most expansive line of sight into the student entrepreneurship landscape are First Round’s Dorm Room Fund and General Catalyst’s Rough Draft VenturesSince 2012, these two funds have operated a nationwide network of student scouts that have invested $20K — $25K checks into companies founded by student entrepreneurs at 40+ universities. “Scout” is a loose term and doesn’t do it justice — the student investors at these two funds are almost entirely autonomous, have built their own platform services to support portfolio companies, and have launched programs to incubate companies built by female founders and founders of color. Another student-run fund worth noting that has reach beyond a single region is Contrary Capital, which raised $2.2M last year. They do a particularly great job of reaching founders at a diverse set of schools — their network of student scouts are active at 45 universities and have spoken with 3,000 founders per year since getting started. Contrary is also testing out what they describe as a “YC for university-based founders”. In their first cohort, 100% of their companies raised a pre-seed round after Contrary’s demo day. Another even more recently launched organization is The MBA Fund, which caters to founders from the business schools at Harvard, Wharton, and Stanford. While super exciting, these two funds only launched very recently and manage portfolios that are not large enough for analysis just yet.

Over the last few months, I’ve collected and cross-referenced publicly available data from both Dorm Room Fund and Rough Draft Ventures to assess the state of student entrepreneurship in the United States. Companies were pulled from each fund’s portfolio page, then checked against Crunchbase for amount raised, accelerator participation, and other metrics. If you’d like to sift through the data yourself, feel free to ping me — my email can be found at the end of this article. To be clear, this does not represent the full scope of investment activity at either fund — many companies in the portfolios of both funds remain confidential and unlisted for good reasons (e.g. startups working in stealth). In fact, the In addition, data for early stage companies is notoriously variable in quality, even with Crunchbase. You should read these insights as directional only, given the debatable confidence interval. Still, the data is still interesting and give good indicators for the health of student entrepreneurship today.

Dorm Room Fund and Rough Draft Ventures have invested in 230+ student-founded companies that have gone on to raise nearly $1 billion in follow on capital. These funds have invested in a diverse range of companies, from govtech (e.g. mark43, raised $77M+ and FiscalNote, raised $50M+) to space tech (e.g. Capella Space, raised ~$34M). Several portfolio companies have had successful exits, such as crypto startup Distributed Systems (acquired by Coinbase) and social networking startup tbh (acquired by Facebook). While it is too early to evaluate the success of these funds on a returns basis (both were launched just 6 years ago), we can get a sense of success by evaluating the rates by which portfolio companies raise additional capital. Taken together, 34% of DRF and RDV companies in our data set have raised $1 million or more in seed capital. For a rough comparison, CB Insights cites that 40% of YC companies and 48% of Techstars companies successfully raise follow on capital (defined as anything above $750K). Certainly within the ballpark!

Source: Crunchbase

Dorm Room Fund and Rough Draft Ventures companies in our data set have an 11–12% rate of survivorship to Series A. As a benchmark, a previous partner at Y Combinator shared that 20% of their accelerator companies raise Series A capital (YC declined to share the official figure, but it’s likely a stat that is increasing given their new Series A support programs. For further reading, check out YC’s reflection on what they’ve learned about helping their companies raise Series A funding). In any case, DRF and RDV’s numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, as the average age of their portfolio companies is very low and raising Series A rounds generally takes time. Ultimately, it is clear that DRF and RDV are active in the earlier (and riskier) phases of the startup journey.

Dorm Room Fund and Rough Draft Ventures send 18–25% of their portfolio companies to YCombinator or Techstars. Given YC’s 1.5% acceptance rate as reported in Fortune, this is quite significant! Internally, these two funds offer founders an opportunity to participate in mock interviews with YC and Techstars alumni, as well as tap into their communities for peer support (e.g. advice on pitch decks and application content). As a result, Dorm Room Fund and Rough Draft Ventures regularly send cohorts of founders to these prestigious accelerator programs. Based on our data set, 17–20% of DRF and RDV companies that attend one of these accelerators end up raising Series A venture financing.

Source: Crunchbase

Dorm Room Fund and Rough Draft Ventures don’t invest in the same companies. When we take a deeper look at one specific ecosystem where these two funds have been equally active over the last several years — Boston — we actually see that the degree of investment overlap for companies that have raised $1M+ seed rounds sits at 26%. This suggests that these funds are either a) seeing different dealflow or b) have widely different investment decision-making.

Source: Crunchbase

Dorm Room Fund and Rough Draft Ventures should not just be measured by a returns-basis today, as it’s too early. I hypothesize that DRF and RDV are actually encouraging more entrepreneurial activity in the ecosystem (more students decide to start companies while in school) as well as improving long-term founder outcomes amongst students they touch (portfolio founders build bigger and more successful companies later in their careers). As more students start companies, there’s likely a positive feedback loop where there’s increasing peer pressure to start a company or lean on friends for founder support (e.g. feedback, advice, etc).Both of these subjects warrant additional study, but it’s likely too early to conduct these analyses today.

Dorm Room Fund and Rough Draft Ventures have impressive alumni that you will want to track. 1 in 4 alumni partners are founders, and 29% of these founder alumni have raised $1M+ seed rounds for their companies. These include Anjney Midha’s augmented reality startup Ubiquity6 (raised $37M+), Shubham Goel’s investor-focused CRM startup Affinity (raised $13M+), Bruno Faviero’s AI security software startup Synapse (raised $6M+), Amanda Bradford’s dating app The League (raised $2M+), and Dillon Chen’s blockchain startup Commonwealth Labs (raised $1.7M). It makes sense to me that alumni from these communities that decide to start companies have an advantage over their peers — they know what good companies look like and they can tap into powerful networks of young talent / experienced investors.

Beyond Dorm Room Fund and Rough Draft Ventures, some venture capital firms focus on incubation for student-founded startups. Credit should first be given to Lightspeed for producing the amazing Summer Fellows bootcamp experience for promising student founders — after all, Pinterest was built there! Jeremy Liew gives a good overview of the program through his sit-down interview with Afterbox’s Zack Banack. Based on a study they conducted last year, 40% of Lightspeed Summer Fellows alumni are currently active founders. Pear Ventures also has an impressive summer incubator program where 85% of its companies successfully complete a fundraise. Index Ventures is the latest to build an incubator program for student founders, and even accepts founders who want to work on an idea part-time while completing a summer internship.

Let’s now look at students who want to join a startup before founding one. Venture funds have historically looked to tap students for talent, and are expanding the engagement lifecycle. The longest running programs include Kleiner Perkins’ class="m_1196721721246259147gmail-markup--strong m_1196721721246259147gmail-markup--p-strong"> KP Fellows and True Ventures’ TEC Fellows, which focus on placing the next generation’s most promising product managers, engineers, and designers into the portfolio companies of their parent venture funds.

There’s also the secretive Greylock X, a referral-based hand-picked group of the best student engineers in Silicon Valley (among their impressive alumni are founders like Yasyf Mohamedali and Joe Kahn, the folks behind First Round-backed Karuna Health). As these programs have matured, these firms have recognized the long-run value of engaging the alumni of their programs.

More and more alumni are “coming back” to the parent funds as entrepreneurs, like KP Fellow Dylan Field of Figma (and is also hosting a KP Fellow, closing a full circle loop!). Based on their latest data, 10% of KP Fellows alumni are founders — that’s a lot given the fact that their community has grown to 500! This helps explain why Kleiner Perkins has created a structured path to receive $100K in seed funding to companies founded by KP Fellow alumni. It looks like venture funds are beginning to invest in student programs as part of their larger platform strategy, which can have a real impact over the long term (for further reading, see this analysis of platform strategy outcomes by USV’s Bethany Crystal).

KP Fellows in San Francisco

Venture funds are doubling down on student talent engagement — in just the last 18 months, 4 funds have launched student programs. It’s encouraging to see new funds follow in the footsteps of First Round, General Catalyst, Kleiner Perkins, Greylock, and Lightspeed. In 2017, Accel launched their Accel Scholars program to engage top talent at UC Berkeley and Stanford. In 2018, we saw 8VC Fellows, NEA Next, and Floodgate Insiders all launch, targeting elite universities outside of Silicon Valley. Y Combinator implemented Early Decision, which allows student founders to apply one batch early to help with academic scheduling. Most recently, at the start of 2019, First Round launched the Graduate Fund (staffed by Dorm Room Fund alumni) to invest in founders who are recent graduates or young alumni.

Given more time, I’d love to study the rates by which student founders start another company following investments from student scout funds, as well as whether or not they’re more successful in those ventures. In any case, this is an escalation in the number of venture funds that have started to get serious about engaging students — both for talent and dealflow.

Student entrepreneurship 2.0 is here. There are more structured paths to success for students interested in starting or joining a startup. Founders have more opportunities to garner press, seek advice, raise capital, and more. Venture funds are increasingly leveraging students to help improve the three F’s — finding, funding, and fixing. In my personal view, I believe it is becoming more and more important for venture funds to gain mindshare amongst the next generation of founders and operators early, while still in school.

I can’t wait to see what’s next for student entrepreneurship in 2019. If you’re interested in digging in deeper (I’m human — I’m sure I haven’t covered everything related to student entrepreneurship here) or learning more about how you can start or join a startup while still in school, shoot me a note at sxu@dormroomfund.comA massive thanks to Phin Barnes, Rei Wang, Chauncey Hamilton, Peter Boyce, Natalie Bartlett, Denali Tietjen, Eric Tarczynski, Will Robbins, Jasmine Kriston, Alicia Lau, Johnny Hammond, Bruno Faviero, Athena Kan, Shohini Gupta, Alex Immerman, Albert Dong, Phillip Hua-Bon-Hoa, and Trevor Sookraj for your incredible encouragement, support, and insight during the writing of this essay.

Binance now lets users buy crypto with a credit card

Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange based on trading volume, will now let you spend money you don’t have after it added support for credit cards from Visa and Mastercard. Credit card usage in crypto is controversial. Aside from the risk — ask anyone who bought crypto last year… — top exchanges have gone back and […]

Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange based on trading volume, will now let you spend money you don’t have after it added support for credit cards from Visa and Mastercard.

Credit card usage in crypto is controversial. Aside from the risk — ask anyone who bought crypto last year… — top exchanges have gone back and forth on support. Coinbase, for example, stopped allowing credit card purchases a year ago but, when it still allowed them, customers were found to have incurred additional charges.

With many crypto owners getting “rekt” by a slump that has seen the market crash by around 90 percent, with some tokens now effectively worthless, the winds of change in the bear market are interesting to observe.

Coinbase is abandoning its conservative approach to the coins that it lists, while Binance — which operates on the opposite scale with support for a glut of tokens — has moved from being crypto-only to offer fiat currency options to customers. Support for credit cards is a major part of that and it brings Coinbase and Binance into direct competition for the first time.

The company, which is officially based in Malta, has opened fiat currency trading outposts in Uganda and Jersey, and it has plans to add similar ramps in Liechtenstein, Singapore and other places.

CEO Changpeng Zhao told TechCrunch last year that Binance plans to grow to 10 fiat exchanges in 2019, with “ideally two per continent.” Part of the strategy is to help larger, institutional investors bring money into the crypto ecosystem, a move that he believes will boost Binance and the crypto industry generally.

The credit card support has come via a partnership with crypto-focused payment company Simplex, but there are caveats.

Credit cards can only be used to purchase a limited set of tokens, those are Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Ripple’s XRP.

There are also geographical limitations. The Simplex service isn’t supported in some countries, while, in the U.S., it doesn’t cover the following states: New York, Georgia, Connecticut, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Washington.

Finally, support for banks is not universal, too, which means that some users will not be able to buy on Binance using their credit card.

Those that can are charged a 3.5 percent fee and must wait 10-30 minutes for their tokens, a Binance spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch. Once purchased, those tokens can be freely traded on Binance, which claims to list over 150 cryptocurrencies.

Still, the move may bolster the exchange’s trading volume which, while still the highest in the industry, has dropped below $1 billion per day in recent times.

At the time of writing, the exchange had traded some $666 million worth of crypto in the last 24 hours, according to data from CoinMarketCap. A lot of that depression is down to the market plummet, which has seen the overall value of that trading volumes fall and reduced consumer interest in trading, but giving more people the tools to buy might offset that somewhat.

“The crypto industry is still in its early stages and most of the world’s money is still in fiat. Building fiat gateways is what we need now to grow the ecosystem, increase adoption and introduce crypto to more users,” Zhao said in a canned statement.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.

Coinbase acquihires San Francisco startup Blockspring

Coinbase is continuing its push to suck up talent after the $8 billion-valued crypto business snapped up Blockspring, a San Francisco-based startup that enables developers to collect and process data from APIs. The undisclosed deal was announced by Blockspring on its blog, and confirmed to TechCrunch by a Coinbase representative. Coinbase declined to comment further. […]

Coinbase is continuing its push to suck up talent after the $8 billion-valued crypto business snapped up Blockspring, a San Francisco-based startup that enables developers to collect and process data from APIs.

The undisclosed deal was announced by Blockspring on its blog, and confirmed to TechCrunch by a Coinbase representative. Coinbase declined to comment further.

Blockspring started out as a serverless data business, but it pivoted into a service that lets companies use API data. That includes purposes such as building list and repositories for recruitment, marketing sales, reporting and more. Pricing starts from $29 per month and Blockspring claims to work with “thousands” of companies.

That startup graduated Y Combinator and, according to Crunchbase, it had raised $3.5 million from investors that include SV Angel and A16z, both of which are Coinbase investors. Those common investors are likely a key reason for the deal, which appears to be a talent acquisition. The Blockspring team will join Coinbase, but it will continue to offer its existing products “for current and new customers as they always have.”

“Joining Coinbase was a no-brainer for a number reasons including its commitment to establishing an open financial system and the strength of its engineering team, led by Tim Wagner (formerly of AWS Lambda). Making the technical simple and accessible is what we’ve always been about at Blockspring. And now we’ll get to push these goals forward along with the talented folks at Coinbase to make something greater than we could on our own,” wrote CEO Paul Katsen.

Coinbase raised $300 million last October to take it to $525 million raised to date from investors. While it may not be a huge one, the Blockspring deal looks to be its eleventh acquisition, according to data from Crunchbase. Most of those have been talent grabs, but its more substantial pieces of M&A have included the $120 million-plus deal for Earn.com, which installed Balaji Srinivasan as the company’s first CTO, the acquisition of highly-rated blockchain browser Cipher, and the purchase of securities dealer Keystone Capital, which boosted its move into security tokens.

In addition to buying up companies, Coinbase also makes investments via its early-stage focused Coinbase Ventures fund.

Disclosure: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.

Union Square Ventures secures $429M across two new funds

USV co-founder Fred Wilson expect U.S. venture capitalists will “take a more cautious stance in 2019.”

New York-based venture capital firm Union Square Ventures (USV) has submitted paperwork to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission indicating a $429 million fundraise across two new vehicles.

Founded in 2003 by Fred Wilson (pictured) and Brad Burnham, USV has supported high-flying companies including Twitter, Tumblr, Etsy and, more recently, Carta and Coinbase. The firm has only added four people to its partnership in its 15-year history. Most recently, Rebecca Kaden joined from Maveron to become USV’s first female partner.

Its latest filings show the firm has raised $190 million for its fifth early-stage flagship fund, surpassing its previous vehicle by about $15 million.

Wilson, a long-time VC, has said that USV would never raise a large fund: “We like the small fund model and are completely and totally committed to it,” he told Venture Beat in 2010. That was long before SoftBank and its monstrous Vision Fund emerged to shake up the industry; still, USV has maintained its focused, lean fundraising strategy.

In addition to the $190 million entity, USV has lassoed $238 million for a growth-stage opportunities fund, its largest to date.

In a post on his popular blog, AVC.com, Wilson made his predictions for the new year, ranging from the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump, worsening U.S.-China relations and a fall of the S&P 500. Despite a commonly held belief among private investors that bearish public markets will quickly result in a downturn in the VC market, Wilson seems moderately optimistic about what’s to come.

“I expect that we will continue to see big tech invest and grow their businesses and do well in 2019,” Wilson wrote. “I expect we will see IPOs from big names like Uber/Lyft/Slack, although I also expect those deals will get priced well below the lofty expectations they have in mind right now … However, I do think a difficult macro business and political environment in the U.S. will lead investors to take a more cautious stance in 2019. It would not surprise me to see total venture capital investments in 2019 decline from 2018. And I think we will see financings take longer, diligence on new investments actually occur, and valuations to come under pressure for even the most attractive opportunities.”

A spokesperson for USV didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cap table management tool Carta valued at $800M with new funding

Carta, formerly known as eShares, has raised $80 million from Meritech and Tribe Capital.

Startups supporting startups are blazing a new trail with support from venture capitalists.

Co-working spaces like The Wing and The Riveter raked in funding rounds this year, as did Brex, the provider of a corporate card built specifically for startups. Now Carta, which helps companies manage their cap tables, valuations, portfolio investments and equity plans, has announced an $80 million Series D at a valuation of $800 million. The company, formerly known as eShares, raised the capital from lead investors Meritech and Tribe Capital, with support from existing investors.

The round brings Carta’s total funding to $147.8 million. Its existing investors include Spark Capital, Menlo Ventures, Union Square Ventures and Social Capital, though the latter didn’t participate in the Series D funding. Tribe Capital, however, is a new venture capital firm launched by Arjun Sethi, who previously led Social Capital’s investment in Carta, Jonathan Hsu and Ted Maidenberg, a trio of former Social Capital partners who exited the VC firm amid its transition from a traditional VC fund to a technology holding company. Tribe is said to be in the process of raising its own $200 million debut fund.

Founded in 2012 by Henry Ward (pictured), the Palo Alto-based company plans to use the latest investment to develop their transfer agent and equity administration products and services to better support startups transitioning into public companies. It also will launch additional products for investors to collect data from their portfolio companies and to manage their back office.

“We’ve come this far by changing how ownership management works for private companies—popularizing electronic securities and cap table software, combined with audit-ready 409As,” Ward wrote in an announcement. “But our ambitions go far beyond supporting privately-held, venture-backed companies.”

Carta, which counts Robinhood, Slack, Wealthfront, Squarespace, Coinbase and more as customers, currently manages $500 billion in equity. This year, Carta expanded its headcount from 310 employees to 450 employees, launched board management and portfolio insights products and completed a study in partnership with #Angels that highlighted the major equity gap female startup employees are victim to.

The study, released in September, revealed that women own just 9 percent of founder and employee startup equity, despite making up 35 percent of startup equity-holding employees. On top of that, women account for 13 percent of startup founders, but just 6 percent of founder equity — or $0.39 on the dollar.

As Bitcoin sinks, industry startups are forced to cut back

Bitmain, Huobi, ConsenSys and Steemit are among the cryptocurrency startups to complete layoffs in the last month.

Around this time last year, the price of Bitcoin hit an all-time high of nearly $20,000. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts everywhere boasted about the wealth 2018 would bring, initial coin offerings exploded and startups continued to pull in record amounts of venture capital. Fast-forward one year: Bitcoin is down 75 percent to a meager $3,700, sinking as quickly as its meteoric rise, and industry startups are paying the price.

The latest victim is Bitmain, a provider of bitcoin mining hardware that very recently submitted its IPO prospectus to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. The company confirmed to CoinDesk this week that cutbacks would begin imminently: “There has been some adjustment to our staff this year as we continue to build a long-term, sustainable and scalable business,” a spokesperson for Bitmain told CoinDesk . “A part of that is having to really focus on things that are core to that mission and not things that are auxiliary.”

Beijing-based Bitmain hasn’t clarified just how many of its employees will be impacted, though rumors — which Bitmain has since denied — on Maimai, a Chinese LinkedIn-like platform, suggest as many as 50 percent of the company’s headcount could be laid off. This news comes after the crypto mining giant confirmed it had shuttered its Israeli development center, Bitmaintech Israel, laying off 23 employees in the process.

Bitmain employs at least 2,000 people, up from 250 in 2016, according to PitchBook, as the company’s growth has skyrocketed.

The decreasing value of Bitcoin.

“The crypto market has undergone a shake-up in the past few months, which has forced Bitmain to examine its various activities around the globe and to refocus its business in accordance with the current situation,” Bitmaintech Israel head Gadi Glikberg reportedly told his employees at the time of the layoffs.

Bitmain has raised more than $800 million in venture capital funding from Sequoia, Coatue Management, SoftBank and more. At a valuation of $12 billion, it quickly soared to become the most valuable crypto startup in the world, surpassing Coinbase, which itself garnered an $8 billion valuation this fall.

In its IPO filing, Bitmain reported more than $2.5 billion in revenue last year, up nearly 10x on the $278 million it claimed for 2016. As for the first half of 2018, Bitmain said it surpassed $2.8 billion in revenue. These are astonishing numbers, yes, but whether Bitmain can sustain this kind of momentum has been called into question, especially as it gears up to go public in what would be the largest crypto-related IPO to date. The crypto market, by nature, is unpredictable — a characteristic that’s less than favorable to public market investors.

Startups sacrifice staff

Meanwhile, Huobi Group, a crypto trading platform also headquartered in Beijing, is laying off a portion of its 1,000 employees, too, according to a report from the South China Morning Post.

Huobi, which is backed by Sequoia and ZhenFund, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Moreover, Brooklyn-based ConsenSys earlier this month confirmed it was laying off 13 percent of its 1,200-person staff. The company, active in the crypto ecosystem, incubates and invests in decentralized applications built on the Ethereum blockchain.

“Excited as we are about ConsenSys 2.0, our first step in this direction has been a difficult one: we are streamlining several parts of the business including ConsenSys Solutions, spokes, and hub services, leading to a 13% reduction of mesh members,” ConsenSys founder and crypto billionaire Joseph Lubin wrote in a letter to employees regarding the layoffs.

Finally, Steemit, a distributed app designed to reward content creators, laid off 70 percent of its staff just days earlier, citing poor market conditions.

“We still believe that Steem can be by far the best, and lowest cost, blockchain protocol for applications and that the improvements that will result from this new direction will make it far better for application sustainability,” founder and chief executive officer Ned Scott wrote in a statement. “However, in order to ensure that we can continue to improve Steem, we need to first get costs under control to remain economically sustainable. There’s nothing that I want more now than to survive, to keep steemit.com operating, and keep the mission alive, to make great communities.”

Downsizing following periods of rapid growth — which many crypto startups experienced during the Bitcoin boom — is only natural, but can these businesses continue to endure periods of extreme volatility without crashing completely? One thing is certain: If the price of Bitcoin sinks further and further, “staff adjustments” at crypto startups large and small will be unavoidable.

Earnin raises $125M to help workers track and cash out wages in real time

The fintech company has raised the funds from DST Global, Andreessen Horowitz, Spark Capital, Matrix Partners, March Capital Partners, Coatue Management and Ribbit Capital.

Before Ram Palaniappan founded Earnin, he developed a system for employees at a payments company called UniRush, where he spent eight years as president. If you needed money before payday, he would write you a check from his checking account and when payday rolled around, employees would reimburse him.

Despite being paid what Palaniappan thought were fair wages, his workers often found themselves in a bind, needing access to wages they couldn’t expect to see in their own bank accounts for days.

“This is such a core pain point,” Palaniappan told TechCrunch. “Over three-fourths of the country live paycheck to paycheck … It’s an issue of fairness. We all have gotten used to getting paid every two weeks, but most employees would rather be paid before they work.”

Palaniappan decided to transform what he had been doing as a favor to employees into a real business with Earnin (formerly known as Activehours), a startup that helps hourly, gig and salary workers track their earnings and transfer them to their checking accounts in real time using a mobile application. Today, the company is announcing a $125 million Series C funding from top-tier investors DST Global, Andreessen Horowitz, Spark Capital, Matrix Partners, March Capital Partners, Coatue Management and Ribbit Capital. Palaniappan declined to disclose the valuation.

Earnin founder and chief executive officer Ram Palaniappan

Here’s how it works: An employee signs up on the Earnin app and connects their bank account. Earnin infers the person’s pay cycle and debits their account the amount they’ve borrowed on their payday. Earnin charges no fees or interest; instead, it operates on a pay it forward revenue model some would balk at. Earnin users have the option to “tip” the app after each transaction and that tip, in turn, is used to fund the next user’s withdrawal. If a user tips more than Earnin thinks is reasonable for the given withdrawal, it will notify the user and give them the option to dial back the tip amount.

What the company has found is that users are usually more than happy to contribute to the Earnin community of workers.

“So often, people are trying to help each other out,” Palaniappan said. “That’s the most powerful piece — how much support the community is providing to each other.”

Earnin was launched in 2014 and has previously raised $65 million in venture capital funding. With the latest investment, it will expand its engineering and product teams across its offices in Palo Alto — where it’s headquartered — as well as in Cincinnati and Vancouver.

The app, often among the App Store’s top 10 financial apps, has more than 1 million downloads, the company says, and is used by employees at more than 50,000 companies — many of which check the app every day. Palaniappan says its users are working more than 15 million hours per week. If each user works an estimated 40 hours per week, that means the app has roughly 375,000 weekly active users.

He added that the startup’s growth in the last four years has been “quite remarkable.” Given the investor support it’s received, it’s likely to step into “unicorn” territory soon. Ribbit Capital, for example, is a leading fintech investing firm with capital invested in Coinbase, Revolut, Gusto, Wealthfront, NuBank, Brex and more.