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The DAO of Bessemer Venture Partners

Ryan Lawler
Mar 11, 2022
Illustration of a blockchain forming a question mark.
Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Bessemer Venture Partners threw its hat in the Web3 ring on Thursday, announcing a $250 million commitment to invest in founders building the future of crypto, NFTs, and DeFi — and a DAO to support them.

Why it matters: If a VC doesn't have a dedicated crypto fund these days, it at least has to have a crypto strategy. This is Bessemer's way of reminding the market that it, too, wants to put money into web3 startups.

Driving the news: The firm is committing money and a dedicated team of investors — Ethan Kurzweil, Charles Birnbaum, Talia Goldberg, and Jeremy Levine — to look for opportunities in the crypto world.

  • It will primarily be looking for startups building consumer crypto, web3 infrastructure, and decentralized finance applications.
  • It's also launching BessemerDAO, which is a Web3 community built on Discord that it hopes will help portfolio companies and others in the crypto community to meet talent, as well as compare notes on things like product, business development, and tokenomics.

Why a DAO? “We think it's a way we can amplify our efforts… helping not just our portfolio companies, but all companies — it'll be an open community,” Kurzweil tells Axios.

Context: Bessemer is not new to crypto investing — Kurzweil says it has made nine investments in the space over the last several years.

  • Portfolio companies in the space include NYDIG, MakersPlace, Sorare, and TRM Labs, as well as some that haven't yet been announced.

Among more traditional VCs, Bessemer is not alone in wanting to show an interest in crypto — earlier in the week, Bain Capital introduced its own $560 million dedicated crypto fund.

  • And in February, Sequoia announced a $600 million fund focused on crypto tokens.

Yes, but: A $250 million commitment from an institutional VC seems downright quaint in a sector dominated by billion-dollar crypto-native funds.

  • Bessemer will be competing with the likes of Paradigm, which has a $2.5 billion fund, Andreessen Horowitz ($2.2 billion), and a16z alum Katie Haun's ($1 billion), among others.

Still, while Bessemer is earmarking $250 million for web3 startups, Kurzweil says that's the floor of the commitment, not the ceiling.

  • "There's nothing to stop us from investing more — particularly in late-stage companies that we could invest in from our growth fund," he says.
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