Coinbase unveils fund for early-stage cryptocurrency startups

Coinbase has launched a new fund called Coinbase Ventures to invest in early-stage cryptocurrency and blockchain startups. In a blog post, Coinbase head of corporate and business development Emilie Choi said that the fund’s goal is to strengthen the sector.

“At least in the beginning, our goal is simply helping the most compelling companies in the space flourish,” she wrote. “This means we don’t have the strategic requirement of formalizing partner relationships with such companies, as some corporate venture programs do. Our focus is on building strong relationships and helping spur the development of the ecosystem.”

This includes investing in companies that may potentially compete with Coinbase because “it’s in everyone’s interest to see the ecosystem innovate,” Choi added. She also said the fund will keep an eye on founders who have worked for Coinbase and “enthusiastically invest in ideas from our own alumni network.”

One potential benefit of helping other cryptocurrency and blockchain companies grow is lending more stability to the sector, which is currently under scrutiny by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and considered risky by many investors. In an interview on CNBC’s “Fast Money,” Coinbase chief operating officer Asiff Hirji said that as more mature investors take an interest in cryptocurrency, that will “dampen volatility to some extent.”

There’s been “tremendous take up on the fund, well beyond anything we were expecting,” he added and that it “confirmed what we thought, that there is actually more demand on the investor side than on the trader side.” While Coinbase doesn’t have current plans to add more cryptocurrencies to its exchange, investing in promising startups will help it find promising tokens, Hirji said.