Mark Cuban wants in on the cryptocurrency boom even if it turns out he’s right that bitcoin is in a bubble.
Cuban is investing in 1confirmation, a fund that plans to raise $20 million to invest in blockchain-based firms, the tech billionaire said in an interview. Venture capital firm Runa Capital is among other investors.
“I have always looked at blockchain as a foundation platform from which great applications can be built,” Cuban said in an Aug. 19 e-mail. “Hopefully we can find a few.”
Runa Capital principal Nick Tomaino was an early employee at digital currency exchange Coinbase Inc. and runs the cryptocurrency-focused blog the Control. They plan to differentiate 1confirmation from the slew of digital currency hedge funds that have sprung up recently by taking a page from the venture-capital play book.
Rather than investing in digital tokens through initial coin offerings or in the secondary market, 1confirmation plans to invest from $100,000 to $500,000 in early stage companies before their ICO, and help those companies develop their product. Once the startup is ready to issue an ICO, the fund hopes to negotiate a discounted price.
It’s a more cautious approach to the frenzy that has consumed the space this year, with startups raising hundreds of millions of dollars in days, or even minutes, with little real business applications besides a white paper and a website. Startups had raised $1.8 billion in ICOs as of last week.
The fund will invest in projects that help developers build decentralized applications, rather than those aimed at end users.
A number of funds focused on blockchain companies and their tokens have opened in the past year as bitcoin’s price more than tripled and cryptocurrencies’ market capitalization surpassed $100 billion.
The majority owner of the Dallas Mavericks and star of “Shark Tank” tweeted in June that bitcoin was in a bubble, and the price dropped.
1Confirmation would be Cuban’s second foray into cryptocurrencies; he also plans to invest in tokens sold by his portfolio company Unikrn. Cuban says he plans to invest on a third crypto-related project in the future, as well as potentially buying crypto currencies, which he doesn’t currently own.
“It’s hard to establish any intrinsic value for bitcoin or any of the cryptocurrencies. … If the number of buyers dry up or there are a few massive sellers, we could see under $1,000 again,” Cuban said. “None of this has anything to do with the applications that can be built with blockchain. The question is whether great companies can be financed and built, and I think the answer is yes.”