To give cryptocurrency startups and their founders a boost, Coinbase has started a new incubator fund called Coinbase Ventures. While the popular cryptocurrency exchange expects the fund’s profits to be small compared to those of its overall business, the fund already has $15 million and is expected to grow, CNBC reported.
“We’re going to invest off our balance sheet into crypto-companies,” Coinbase President and Chief Operating Officer Asiff Hirji told CNBC. “We will invest in companies that are in the space and are aligned with our values.”
The fund is designed to help launch firm and aid founders in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industries. And, since Coinbase seeks to foster relationships within those spaces, it could very well invest in companies that may be viewed as competitors.
“You may also see us invest in companies that ostensibly look competitive with Coinbase,” the company wrote in a blog post. “There may be nuance to the way these startups are building out their products. Or, in some cases, we may be comfortable investing in companies that are potentially competitive, because it’s in everyone’s interest to see the ecosystem innovate.”
The news comes as the U.S. cryptocurrency exchange recently hired LinkedIn’s former VP of corporate development: Emilie Choi took the helm as Coinbase’s new VP of Corporate and Business Development on Monday (March 5), Fortune reported. While at LinkedIn, Choi was involved in more than 40 acquisitions, such as the company’s $1.5 billion purchase of Lynda in 2015.
As Coinbase is considering “quite a number” of acquisitions, Choi was tasked with evaluating deals in the pipeline and searching for new targets. At the time of the Fortune article, Coinbase said some companies would be acquired primarily to gain employees, but the deals will run the gamut “all the way through to tuck in acquisitions in the middle and large-scale acquisitions,” according to Hirji.