A group of former executives of Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, have created a $100 million venture fund, the team told gotechbusiness.com on Thursday.
Research into old fashion (OFR) — whose name derives from the classic cocktail — was founded in late 2021 by managing partners Ling Zhang, who was previously the vice president of M&A and investments at Binance, and Wayne Fu, former head of business development at the crypto exchange.
The fund will focus on the metaverse and greater cryptocurrency adoption to emerging markets such as Latin America and Africa, Zhang told gotechbusiness.com.
“We like to work with builders for the long term,” said Zhang. “We are very focused on the southern hemisphere. … We are going after all emerging markets, but our goal and vision is to accelerate adoption there.”
At Binance, Zhang was responsible for many acquisitions and strategic investments, including FTX, Multicoin Capital and CertiK.
The capital was raised by limited partners, traditional VC funds, family offices and angel investors both inside and outside the crypto ecosystem, with global gaming platform WEMIX leading the investment, Zhang noted.
The project has been operating in stealth mode to date, but has invested in more than 50 blockchain projects to date, including blockchain analytics platform Nansen, trading platform WOO Network, NFT game Genopets to earn and Africa’s largest gaming community, Metaverse Magna.
“We strongly believe in the metaverse, not just user activity, but also the asset perspective,” Zhang said. “We believe that web3 will be the very first step to revolutionize it [our] own identity and asset management.”
Wei Zhou, the former CFO at Binance, will serve as strategic advisor and investor to OFR, and the venture arm will be supported by partner Jiang Xin, who led Binance Labs and Launchpad’s major investment deals such as Axie Infinity, Moonbeam , Alpha Finance and others.
“Market conditions have cooled down a bit since the start of the year and we think it’s more of an opportunity than a challenge for OFR,” said Xin. “Ever since [the fund] has just started, we can find cheaper and more reasonable valuations during the market downturn and many bubbles will come out.”
Zhang said she has noticed a growing interest from funds entering the crypto space or new funds being launched to invest in crypto after seeing the potential of blockchain technology and crypto ecosystem.
“More and more VCs are looking for ways to invest in crypto projects,” said Zhang. “Crypto itself is a revolution and disruption of the main plate. It is no longer centralized in a top-down approach.”
Earlier this week, Andreessen Horowitz announced its fourth crypto-focused fund for $4.5 billion. The fund, more than double its third fund of $2.2 billion, will spend a third of its mega fund exclusively on seed deals.
In recent weeks, a number of mega-funds have been launched in the crypto space, showing that while the markets may be down, venture capitalists are capitalizing on the sentiments and continuing to invest in the space.
When asked whether the market’s bearish sentiments will deter traditional firms from pursuing their crypto investments, a16z general partner Arianna Simpson told gotechbusiness.com that “it is likely that other firms will back out,” but that “the magnitude of our new fund speaks to the level of excitement and faith we have in this category.”
Reiterating that, Zhang noted that market dips provide investors looking to put capital into the space with clarity about which bets to make.
“This is the best timing for us to identify the long-term believers in the crypto space and is the best timing to make investments and incubate more projects,” Zhang said.