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Sir Richard Branson-backed crypto company raising $50m fund

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK

A top European cryptocurrency business backed by Google and Sir Richard Branson is raising $50m (£41m) to invest in startups.

London-based Blockchain is currently in talks with investors about raising the venture capital fund, according to two sources. Blockchain wants to use the money to invest in both equity and crypto coins in the sector.

Sam Harrison, who joined Blockchain from Naspers Ventures in July 2018, is heading up the effort, the sources said.

Harrison’s LinkedIn appears to confirm this, saying he “co-founded Blockchain.com Ventures – $50m Venture Capital Fund.” It states the fund has already invested in crypto startups like Origin Protocol, Coindirect, Sliver.tv, Nodle.

Blockchain declined to comment.

Virgin founder Richard Branson in April 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Kelsey Brunner

Blockchain (not to be confused with the name for the technology) is one of the highest profile cryptocurrency companies in Europe. Founded in 2011, the company has raised over $70m from backers including Google Ventures, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin, and top European venture capital fund Lakestar.

Antony Jenkins, the former CEO of Barclays, sits on Blockchain’s board and former UK prime minister David Cameron opened the company’s new London office in 2017.

Blockchain makes cryptocurrency wallets and sells data on crypto markets. Over 40m Blockchain wallets have been opened around the world, making it one of the world’s biggest providers. Sir Richard Branson said the company was “at the cutting edge of a growing industry” when he invested in 2017.

The launch of a stand alone venture capital fund fits with a growing trend among tech companies. Notable similar funds include Google Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, and M12, Microsoft’s venture fund.

Blockchain Ventures is slightly more unusual given the company is still relatively early stage. Blockchain last raised venture capital funding for itself earlier this year, according to Crunchbase, and it is not clear if it is yet profitable. The company is domiciled in Luxembourg but has offices in London, New York, and Vilnius.

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Oscar Williams-Grut covers banking, fintech, and finance for Yahoo Finance UK. Follow him on Twitter at @OscarWGrut.

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