In the eyes of many, crypto- and blockchain-related venture capitalism is relegated only to big-name funds, such as Andreessen Horowitz, Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, and Union Square Ventures.
But many forget that wealthy and famous individuals, too, have begun to siphon money into this space, as they look to capture the groundbreaking potential that Bitcoin presents to society. And Serena Williams, the world-renowned tennis player, is a perfect yet unexpected case in point.
Serena Ventures Adds Coinbase As A Portfolio Company
In an Instagram post published days ago, the powerful athlete, who purportedly sports a net worth of nearly $200 million, revealed what she calls “Serena Ventures.” If you couldn’t guess, this initiative, launched in 2014, is her personal venture capital fund that is focused on giving opportunities to founders. In the post, she adds that Serena Ventures has its sights aimed at startups that “embrace diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity, and opportunity.”
And apparently, the San Francisco-based cryptocurrency giant Coinbase fits that exact bill, as the company’s logo was featured on Serena Ventures’ “our investments” page. Coinbase joins Billie, Teespring, Tonal, Masterclass, among other up-and-coming firms in an array of ecosystems.
The details of the investment, including the date, funding round, and amount, aren’t known, but considering Williams’ net worth, it likely wasn’t a small sum.
Not A Huge Surprise
Sure, this is monumental news in and of itself, but there is no need to be shocked. Serena Williams, for those unaware, is wed to Alexis Ohanian, an American venture capitalist the co-founded forum giant Reddit. To many, this fact may seem irrelevant, but when it comes to crypto, it means everything.
Although Ohanian is primarily of Reddit fame, most of his work life is now centered around his venture capital firm, Initialized Capital. While Initialized does have a large focus on classic Silicon Valley startups, think Patreon, Boosted Boards, Instacart, and what have you, it has close ties to the cryptocurrency world.
The fund’s other co-founder, Garry Tan, was, in fact, the first external investor to fund Coinbase. And like the common cold, Tan’s crypto love spread to Ohanian. Initialized’s portfolio now includes Coinbase, CoinTracker (a Bitcoin tax startup), DDEX (a decentralized exchange), Coinbundle (a cryptocurrency investment startup), and the well-known PolyChain Capital.
So, it should come as no surprise that through Williams’ marriage to Ohanian, she has also taken a liking to the potential that digital assets and blockchain pose. Regardless, this cements the fact that celebrities, even ones with no apparent ties to technology and finance, are keeping a close eye on this space. And this isn’t baseless speculation.
In 2013, Snoop Dogg sold his albums for 0.3 BTC, before Mel B formerly of Spice Girls did the same just a year later. At one point in time, Madonna was reported to have joined hands with Facebook and Ripple to help signal-boost an online fundraiser. And football legend Lionel Messi became an ambassador for Sirin Labs, a blockchain smartphone creator that recently laid off 25% of its staff.
It is important that none of this is conclusive proof that these stars are purchasing cryptocurrencies or even Bitcoin, but these endorsements will likely be tailwinds for this industry in the years to come.