Coinbase Ventures Q2 recap and market outlook

Across the Block sheds gentle on key traits in crypto. Written by Connor Dempsey, sourced from the work and insights from all the staff at Coinbase Ventures & Corp Dev


  • Coinbase Ventures deal exercise mirrored the general tempo of the enterprise panorama, down 34% QoQ. Exercise remained up 68% YoY, reflecting the regular development of our enterprise observe over the previous 12 months
  • Among the many key traits noticed, we imagine that Web3 gaming will onboard the following huge wave of crypto customers, with skilled founders from Web2 gaming persevering with to pour into the area
  • We’re enthusiastic about Web3 consumer purposes working to upend the captive fashions of Web2 and provides customers management over their audiences and communities
  • The Solana ecosystem continues to point out spectacular momentum and developer traction
  • Huge UX enhancements are coming to crypto that may obfuscate away complexity and ship experiences on par with Web2
  • The USA continues to be residence to the majority of firms in our portfolio, with Singapore, UK, Germany, and India all establishing spectacular innovation hubs
  • The place CeFi lenders faltered this 12 months, DeFi lending platforms had been resilient
  • Present value motion apart, we stay satisfied that the chance inside crypto and Web3 are far higher than most understand.

The primary half of 2022 was turbulent for all markets. The Dow and S&P had their worst first halves since 1962 and 1970. The NASDAQ had its worst quarter since 2008. Bitcoin had its worst quarter since 2011, DeFi TVL ended down 70% from its excessive, and June NFT gross sales slumped to ranges not seen in a 12 months.

A core a part of the crypto market chaos stemmed from the collapse of the $60B Terra ecosystem in Might. This contributed to the implosion of a $10B crypto fund (Three Arrows Capital) that had leveraged publicity to Terra together with a couple of different trades that moved towards them (GBTC, stETH). Subsequent, it was revealed that Three Arrows Capital had borrowed closely from a number of the largest centralized lenders in crypto. Unable to recoup these loans, a number of of those lenders had been compelled into chapter 11.

The macro market downturn seeped into the enterprise panorama as properly.

Enterprise panorama

The broader enterprise market started to point out indicators of cooling in Q1, with complete funding dropping for the primary time since Q2 2019. That development continued in Q2, with complete enterprise funding dropping 23%, marking the biggest dip in a decade. The quarter additionally noticed later stage firms like Klarna elevating down rounds; an extra signal of the instances.

Crypto enterprise funding nonetheless noticed a report Q1, however as we wrote in our final letter, we’d already begun seeing indicators of a slowdown that we anticipated to floor in Q2. Positive sufficient, information from John Dantoni at The Block confirmed that crypto enterprise funding {dollars} decreased 22%: the primary down quarter in two years.

In Q2, Coinbase Ventures continued to rank among the many most lively buyers in crypto, but additionally noticed deal place sluggish, with the full rely lowering 34% QoQ, from 71 to 47. Regardless of the slowdown in comparison with the fervent tempo of late 21 and Q1 22, our Q2 exercise nonetheless elevated 68% YoY; indicative of the general development of our enterprise observe.

The decline largely mirrored the general market situations — with volatility within the markets, we noticed many founders rethink or put their rounds on pause, significantly on the later levels. We’re seeing that many firms are foregoing a fundraise except completely obligatory, and even then, provided that they really feel assured that they’ll present the expansion wanted to justify a brand new spherical.

Gloomy macro setting apart, there are nonetheless loads of top quality founders elevating on the seed stage, the place we’re most lively. Wanting past the value motion on the areas that we invested in exhibits the vary of actual utility that’s persevering with to be constructed and paints a promising image of the long run: one with a vibrant array of Web3 consumer purposes, improved UX, strong DeFi markets, scalable L1/L2 ecosystems, and all the instruments builders must construct the following killer app.

Right here’s how our exercise broke down over Q2.

Now, let’s take a look at some themes that stood out. (* denotes Coinbase Ventures portfolio firm)

The approaching period of blockchain gaming

With the meteoric rise and subsequent fall of Axie Infinity exercise, many pundits have been gleefully fast to dismiss blockchain gaming as a passing fad. As we wrote in September, Axie was experiencing a optimistic suggestions loop that might flip adverse ought to the fervor driving the sport die down, which is in the end what occurred. Regardless, Axie posted practically $1B in gross sales in a single month and attracted 2M DAUs with basically zero advertising and marketing funds. This put all the gaming world on discover to the facility of this new vertical.

With an estimated 3.2B+ avid gamers on the planet, we strongly imagine that Web3 gaming will onboard the following huge wave of crypto customers. Web3 gaming remained a sector of heavy funding in Q2, with The Block estimating that $2.6B+ was raised. Our exercise over the previous few quarters solely strengthens our conviction.

As we noticed in Q1, founders with robust monitor data in Web2 gaming proceed to embrace this class. For instance, Azra video games*, was based by the creators of the $1.4B+ cell blockbuster Star Wars Galaxy Heroes. Their objective is to construct a fight RPG recreation with a sturdy in-game financial system that may nonetheless garner mainstream enchantment. The area has additionally attracted Justin Kan, co-founder of the sport streaming platform Twitch, which was bought to Amazon for $1B. Kan’s new firm, Fractal*, is constructing a market for NFT gaming property.

Corporations like Venly* will add gas to the hearth with a collection of instruments that allow Web2 recreation builders seamlessly make the leap into Web3. Established gaming powerhouses are even beginning to come round, with Fortnite creator Epic Video games now permitting NFT primarily based video games into its recreation retailer.

It would take a while for this sector to mature, but it surely’s rising more and more clear that blockchain gaming can be an enormous class sooner or later. Anticipate an elevated concentrate on sustainable economics and gameplay that infuses NFTs with extra acquainted Web2 gaming experiences.

Rewiring Web2

Past gaming, the following era of Web3 consumer purposes are working to upend the captive fashions of Web2 and to provide customers management over their audiences and communities. One firm we’re significantly enthusiastic about is Farcaster*: a sufficiently decentralized social community based by Coinbase alumns Dan Romero and Varun Srinivasan. Their early product resembles Twitter, however with the important thing distinction of letting customers personal the connection with their audiences.

Farcaster is an open protocol, just like e mail (SMTP). Whereas Farcaster has constructed the primary social app on the protocol, different builders can construct competing purchasers, identical to now we have Gmail and Apple iCloud. When you can’t take your Twitter followers with you to TikTok, somebody may construct a TikTok equal on the Farcaster protocol, and Farcaster customers can take their followers with them to a brand new, differentiated platform. Not solely can customers preserve higher possession of their viewers, but it surely additionally opens the door for extra aligned monetization. The place most promoting spend goes on to Twitter, Instagram, and so on, Farcaster customers with giant followings can monetize their audiences instantly throughout platforms.

One other funding we’re enthusiastic about is*, which sits on the burgeoning intersection of Web3 and music. Spotlight will let musicians create their very own web3-enabled fanclubs / communities (no coding obligatory), full with token gating, entry to NFT airdrops, merchandise and extra. Spotlight joins different CBV portcos like Audius*,*, Mint Songs*, and Royal*, all providing musicians new avenues for connecting with and monetizing their fanbases.

All informed, we stay enthusiastic about Web3’s potential to reimagine entrenched Web2 fashions for social media, music, and extra, and in the end return energy to creators.

Solana dawn

Noticeable in our Q2 exercise was the continued momentum behind the Solana ecosystem. Whereas Ethereum and the EVM stay king so far as developer traction and appropriate apps, we’re noting a transparent development in early groups inserting significance on Solana. All in, we did 10 offers constructing on Solana in Q2.

Supply: Messari

On condition that Solana good contracts are coded in Rust versus the EVM’s Solidity, founding groups typically select between constructing in a single or the opposite. More and more, we’re seeing groups decide to assist each the EVM and Solana from the onset — like latest additions in Coherent and Moralis. We’ve seen others begin on EVM and decide to completely transition to Solana whereas the above talked about Fractal opted to construct on Solana from the onset.

Add in the truth that a number of giant funds have publicly expressed assist for the ecosystem, and it means that Solana’s endurance is actual. Chain liveliness nonetheless (the flexibility for Solana to stay on-line) stays a problem that’s paramount for the Solana staff to resolve.

The UX of All the things

An general clunky and disjointed crypto consumer expertise has lengthy been a hurdle for adoption. Consider what a consumer has to do to execute a typical transaction: convert fiat to crypto, switch crypto to a pockets, bridge crypto to their community of alternative, after which lastly execute a transaction.

In Q2, we’ve invested in a number of groups (not but introduced) engaged on streamlining and verticalizing all the retail transaction journey. Quickly builders constructing in crypto and Web3 will be capable of deploy all the transaction stack with a couple of easy strains of code and normal set of APIs.

The tip consequence can be a future the place, for instance, a consumer can execute a DEX transaction in a single click on. Within the background, fiat can be transformed into crypto, moved to a pockets, bridged to an L1/L2, earlier than executing the swap and custodying the asset of their pockets of alternative. All the complexity can be obfuscated away and we’ll have consumer experiences on par with Web2 — an enormous unlock.

The place are the buidlers?

This quarter we took a take a look at the place the founding groups we’ve invested in are primarily based. Whereas crypto is a worldwide business, considerably unsurprisingly, the biggest focus of our founding groups hail from the USA — residence to 64% of our 356 portfolio firms; all of the extra motive for regulators to foster relatively than inhibit this quick rising sector.

Singapore has established itself as the bottom of lots of the groups constructing in Asia. In the meantime, the UK and Germany are residence to rising hubs, with coverage makers proactively working in the direction of regulatory readability. We proceed to be impressed by founding groups in India, who we count on to play a serious function in the way forward for crypto adoption (CBV portfolio firm Frontier, with 30 engineers in India has constructed a beautiful mobile-first DeFi aggregator supporting 20+ chains and 45+ protocols).

This quarter, we had been additionally excited to again 5 groups based by former Coinbase staff, together with the aforementioned Coherent and Farcaster, in addition to three others not but introduced. We’re proud to proceed to assist staff who obtain a world class crypto schooling at Coinbase and go on to discovered world class firms and tasks.

Wrapping up

Whereas there’s loads to be enthusiastic about sooner or later, there are additionally loads of classes to be discovered within the current. The present crypto crises is just like these we’ve seen play out in conventional finance. The opaqueness that centralized lenders and Three Arrows Capital operated beneath resulted in an incapability for lenders to correctly consider the danger of their counterparties. Lenders didn’t understand how a lot the others had lent to 3AC, nor did they understand how a lot leverage and danger 3AC was taking over. Buyers didn’t understand how a lot danger they had been uncovered to altogether. When the market moved towards each the lenders and 3AC, lenders had been left with huge holes of their stability sheets, and buyers had been left holding the bag.

Nevertheless in distinction to the centralized lenders dealing with insolvency, it’s necessary to notice that blue chip DeFi lenders Aave, Compound, and MakerDAO operated with out a hitch. Each mortgage and its phrases remained transparently on-chain for all to see. When collateralization ranges fell beneath thresholds, collateral was bought by way of autonomous code and lenders had been paid again. This identical code additionally dictated that Celsius was compelled to pay again $400M in loans to Aave, Compound, and MakerDAO — no court docket order wanted (although overcollaterization performed a task). All informed, it served as a strong proving level for decentralized finance.

That’s simply to say that it could be simple to get discouraged by the present value motion whereas forgetting simply how far we’ve are available in a brief interval. When the final bear market hit, the most well-liked consumer software was Crypto Kitties. As of late, there are extra profound, impactful improvements than we will rely. DeFi, NFTs, a wealthy DAO ecosystem, all happened within the final two years, and even got here collectively to make a actual impression on the world stage. In the meantime, layer2 scaling options are lastly right here, and may take us from the dial-up to broadband part, able to supporting a wealthy array of consumer purposes with easy UX as well.

As in earlier downturns, detractors are as soon as once more confidently saying crypto useless. Nevertheless, from our seat within the business, we’re invigorated by the sensible founders we see working tirelessly to maneuver this expertise ahead. As all the monetary system and world digitizes itself, we stay satisfied that the chance inside crypto and Web3 are far higher than most understand.

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