Cryptocurrency Bear Market Taking a Toll on VC Valuations

February 11, 2019, 7:58 PM UTC

As the cryptocurrency bear market stretches well past a year, companies that specialize in Bitcoin trading or other cryptocurrency services aren’t commanding the same high valuations from investors as they once did.

“Given how much the volumes have decreased in the last year, I wouldn’t be surprised if we are seeing valuations come down on the secondary markets for some of these companies,” Jalak Jobanputra, founding partner of Future Perfect Ventures, said on the latest episode of Fortune’s “Balancing the Ledger.”

Her comments follow a recent report that shares of Circle, which was valued at nearly $3 billion as of its latest funding round in May, are trading at a 75% discount on the so-called secondary market, where existing investors and employees can offload shares outside of official company investment rounds.

Jobanputra, whose firm is in the process of launching its second fund, has invested in cryptocurrency startups including Blockchain, a Bitcoin wallet provider; Civic, which uses blockchain technology for identity authentication; Blockstream, a Bitcoin software developer; as well as Everledger, Abra and BitPesa, among others.

“I think solid companies and solid management teams, even if they have taken a hit in valuation, will eventually come out OK,” Jobanputra added. “At the end of the day it’s human talent and human capital that is what builds these companies and keeps them around for a while.”

Jobanputra’s fund may be more insulated than others from depressed cryptocurrency prices due to her decision to only take equity stakes in companies, and not to invest directly in cryptocurrency or buy tokens in initial coin offerings, or ICOs, as other VCs did. That practice has invited unwelcome regulatory attention from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has cracked down on ICOs it deemed to be engaging in illegal securities sales, and helped force scores of ICO projects to fail.

“They were exposed financially to the downturn in the crypto markets as well as from a technology standpoint,” Jobanputra explained. “And a lot of my experience investing in the Internet days informed a decision to stay out of the ICO market.”