WHAT’S THE RETURN POTENTIAL OF A $1 CRYPTO?
On Wednesday, my colleague Robert Hackett brought you the news that the startup behind cryptocurrency Basis raised $133 million from Bain Capital Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and several other investors.
But the deal didn’t at first seem to add up. See, Basis is a cryptocurrency that will be pegged to the U.S. dollar, or a so-called stablecoin. That means the price of Basis will always be roughly $1. The VC firms weren’t taking any equity in Basis’s parent company, Intangible Labs—they were just getting the Basis tokens, whose price, by design, would never rise.
See where I’m going with this? I couldn’t understand how the VC’s expected to get any return on their investment.
But Basis founder and CEO Nader Al-Naji dropped by Fortune’s offices Thursday to talk to me and Robert on our new weekly video show, “Balancing the Ledger.” (See the new episode here). And it turns out, Basis has created a unique model to reward its investors that compensates for the fact that its cryptocurrency will never appreciate (nor, I suppose, its theoretical equity, as it hasn’t sold any stock).
The way Basis maintains its fixed $1 price is by algorithmically adjusting its supply to demand—the same way central banks can print money. Over time, as new Basis tokens are “minted,” more will accrue to investors, similar to a vesting process. So the VC’s won’t measure their returns in price fluctuations, but in their number of $1 coins.
By way of background, Al-Naji is a 2012 Princeton graduate and a former algorithmic trader at quantitative hedge fund D.E. Shaw. He also did a stint as a software engineer at Google.
SILICON VALLEY VS. NEW YORK: CRYPTO EDITION
My colleague (and longtime Term Sheet columnist) Dan Primack used to regularly debate the virtues of West Coast vs. East Coast tech in the space of this newsletter.
That debate came to a head for cryptocurrency entrepreneurs this week, after the New York attorney general launched a fact-finding probe into 13 cryptocurrency exchanges. That prompted Jesse Powell, the CEO of Bitcoin exchange Kraken, to lash out at what he called the “audacity” of the New York regulators. Kraken pulled out of the New York market in 2015, Powell tweeted, after the state instituted the so-called BitLicense, which many local cryptocurrency businesses must obtain.
“Kraken left New York because New York is hostile to crypto, and this ‘questionnaire’ we received today proves that New York is not only hostile to crypto, it is hostile to business,” Powell wrote in a message posted on Twitter.
It’s not clear yet whether others in the cryptocurrency industry—or tech at large—share Powell’s views, but I’d love to hear your opinions on this subject: DM me on Twitter @jenwieczner or email me at email@example.com
Polina returns Monday.
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• Saviynt, a Los Angeles-based cloud access governance and intelligence services firm, raised $40 million in Series A funding from Carrick Capital Partners.
• Zimplistic, a Singapore-based kitchen robotics firm, raised a $30 million Series C funding. Credence Partners and EDBI led the round.
• Inocucor, a Denver-based developer and producer of biological crop inputs, raised $15.9 million in Series B funding. TPG Art led the round and was joined by investors including Cycle Capital Management, Desjardins Innovatech, and Pontifax AgTech.
• TheWaveVR, an Austin-based creator of a social virtual reality platform, raised $6 million in Series A funding. RRE Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Upfront Ventures, KPCB, Greycroft VR Gaming Tracker Fund, and The VR Fund.
• Contessa Health, a Nashville-based home recovery care firm, raised an undisclosed amount of funding. Health Velocity Capital led and was joined by investors including BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, Noro-Moseley Partners, and Sandbox Advantage Fund.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• Airway Therapeutics, a Cincinnati-based biotech firm focused on lung disease treatments, raised $11 million in Series B funding from new and existing investors.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Atria Wealth Solutions, a portfolio company of Lee Equity Partners, has agreed to buy Cadaret, Grant & Co, a Syracuse, N.Y.-based broker-dealer. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Waud Capital Partners formed Pharmacy Partners Holdings, a platform company for physicians and clinicians.
• Cubic Corporation, a San Diego, Calif.-based defense tech firm, will sell its Cubic Global Defense Services business to Valiant Integrated Services for $138 million.
• Cognizant (Nasdaq: CTSH) acquired Bolder Healthcare Solutions, a Louisville, K.Y.-based provider of revenue cycle management (RCM) solutions to hospitals, physician practices and other specialist healthcare organizations. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Alfa Laval, a Swedish heat transfer, centrifugal separation, and fluid handling firm, will sell its heat exchanger systems business, to the NIBE Group. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• NexPhase Capital acquired SYNERGY HomeCare, a New York-based franchisor of in-home senior care services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Origin Bancorp, a Ruston La.-based financial firm, filed ro raise up to $137.8 million in an IPO. Pine Brook Road Associates (9.24% pre-offering) and Castle Creek Capital (8.31%) back the firm.Stephens, Raymond James, Sandler O’Neill, and Keefe Bruyette & Woods are underwriters in the deal. Read more.
• Testa, the Spanish rental company, will seek an IPO in the spring, Reuters reports. Read more.
• Trive Capital exited its investment in Lucky Bucks, an Atlanta-based operator of digital skill-based gaming terminals.