Aug 3, 2022 - Economy & Business

Binance Labs puts Yi He in charge

Illustration of the Binance logo on a compass.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Crypto venture capital activity has slowed amid price plunges and near-daily hacks. But one of the market's most active players is pledging to "invest even more aggressively."

Driving the news: Crypto exchange Binance tells Axios that it has named co-founder Yi He as head of Binance Labs, its VC and incubator arm.

  • This comes two months after the departure of former Binance Labs chief Bill Qian, which followed the resignation of executive director Nicole Zhang.
  • Binance Labs is a corporate group, but recently raised a $500 million fund that included outside investors like DST Global Partners and Breyer Capital. It also claims to have a whopping $7.5 billion of total assets under management, with a 21x multiple on invested capital, as of calculations made on July 22.

What she's saying: He, who becomes one of crypto's most powerful woman investors, tells me via email: "Binance Labs will invest even more aggressively. We are prioritizing projects with core technological competitiveness. We believe that in the future, blockchain technology will serve the greater mass just like the Internet does today. Infrastructure building is still the bottleneck, however."

  • He adds that Binance Labs is agnostic on whether the investment is structured as equity or tokens, and that the group also will focus on service projects like security and data.

What she's not saying: What role Binance Labs or its parent company might play in the new sale process for Forbes, after the media company's Binance-backed SPAC merger collapsed.

  • It's also worth noting that Binance committed $500 million to Elon Musk's troubled Twitter takeover.

Elsewhere: Paradigm, the massive crypto VC firm formed by Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam and ex-Sequoia partner Matt Huang, recently told LPs that "our optimism remains unchanged by recent events," adding that past crypto crises have helped the industry "emerge smarter and more resilient."

The bottom line: Crypto venture capitalists don't really have the luxury of shying away from the asset class, as many retail investors have done, and that goes double for a corporate arm like Binance Labs.

  • But they could take a bit of a pause to lick their burn wounds. Instead, they're raising toward the fire, believing in what could rise from the ashes.
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