The winds of crypto winter may be still blowing, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping venture capital firms from piling into cryptocurrencies. In fact, recent events influenced by the bear market, such as the collapse of FTX, could bring “further trust into the ecosystem,” according to Jez Mohideen, co-founder and CEO at Laser Digital, the recently launched digital assets arm of the Asian giant Nomura Holdings.
“More traditional players are entering the space who can help to regulate the sector. This means players who understand regulation as well as the importance of clients’ aggregation, stability, and execution,” explained Mohideen, a long-time participant in the venture sector and former director at Barclays and partner at the hedge fund Brevan Howard.
Laser Digital Ventures’ current portfolio includes the crypto exchange Bullish, the decentralized exchange protocol Orderly Network, and the hybrid custodian for institutional investor Komainu, among other firms working on decentralized finances (DeFi) structured products and fixed-income solutions. In 2023, he said that the company is planning to invest in nearly 20 projects.
Among Laser Digital’s main target areas for funding are startups providing solutions for institutional investors, a market that has been growing consistently lately. Over the past year, 62% of institutional investors have increased their crypto allocations, according to a Coinbase survey.
“The lack of adequate infrastructural solutions has created a significant bottleneck for crypto-keen institutions — we want to help solve this bottleneck issue,” stated the executive. In Web3, the firm is especially eager to work on infrastructure solutions that will accelerate institutional adoption of cryptocurrency, including DeFi.
For crypto firms seeking to raise capital amid the slump in crypto prices, solving real problems will be essential. Laser Digital's investment thesis centers on projects that are “innovative and have clear metrics for how they will get there,” Mohideen explained. He added that:
“Web3 and Metaverse platforms stand to be a major area for growth in the next few years. Also, Web2 services, like social media, streaming entertainment and gaming stand to see huge upside if they embrace Web3 technology and governance.”
As one of the largest banks in Japan, Nomura Holdings had a reported $470 billion in assets under management by the end of 2022. Last year, the company also announced plans to launch a crypto subsidiary aimed at investments in crypto and nonfungible tokens.