Bitcoin: Silicon Valley’s new version of real estate?

Mar 18, 2014

FORTUNE -- Tim Chang has a very busy full-time job as a partner with venture capital firm Mayfield, where he has led investments in such companies as Lyft, Lumosity and Playdom. But he also has a business venture on the side, helping friends and family invest in bitcoin via something called Binary Fund.

Binary Fund was formed by a Canadian investment firm called Binary Financial, and also includes participation from venture capitalist Jon Teo (ex-General Catalyst who is forming a new fund of his own). The idea is basically to participate in bitcoin arbitrage, as opposed to investing in bitcoin-focused startups.

Chang tells me that he personally holds bitcoin, and that such investments are now in vogue among Silicon Valley venture capitalists and technology executives.

"I think bitcoin investing is becoming to this generation what real estate investing used to be," Chang says. "But it's a lot more unusual than real estate, so we're helping people understand, manage and secure it."

It's impossible to know just how much bitcoin is held by Chang's peers but, anecdotally, I've heard plenty of VCs recently say that they are holding bitcoin not only for wealth diversification, but also to better understand the asset class. For example, just last week Benchmark's Matt Cohler noted how he personally holds "a lot" of bitcoin, during a discussion of why his firm recently led a $20 million investment round for bitcoin "vault" company Xapo.

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