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Protagonist raises $100M early-stage crypto fund

Jul 12, 2022
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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new, Miami-based crypto firm and incubation lab called Protagonist is launching with a debut fund of $100 million, Ryan reports.

Why it matters: Even as the crypto market enters a downturn, LPs are still bullish on the long-term prospects of the industry — particularly for VCs investing at the earliest stages.

Details: Protagonist was founded by four fintech and crypto entrepreneurs:

  • George Bousis, founder of loyalty card startup Raise; Harry Hurst, the founder and co-CEO of revenue-based financing startup Pipe; and Dylan Macalinao and Ian Macalinao, the founders of cross-chain digital asset exchange Saber Labs.
  • And the firm's LP base is made up primarily of high-net-worth individuals, family office and crypto founders, Bousis tells Ryan.

How it works: Protagonist plans to allocate capital across three main stages of startups, Bousis says:

  • The bulk of funds will go to very early-stage and seed rounds, where Protagonist plans to write $1m to $5m checks.
  • But the firm also expects to make a small number of larger, more concentrated bets in the $5m to $15m range for companies that are later-stage but still have a lot of growth potential.
  • And finally, Protagonist also plans to incubate some ideas or applications of its own on top of some protocols it invests in, as a way to help grow the ecosystem.

Already, the fund has invested in Layer 1 blockchain firm Aptos, Solana-based NFT protocol startup Cardinal, and digital banking and lifestyle startup Cogni.

  • "What we are seeing is a reset on valuations," Bousis says. "Seed rounds were being priced at $60m-$200m with very little traction. But we're now seeing valuations reset to the $20m-$75m range."
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