True Global Ventures 4 Plus, a blockchain-focused equity fund, has raised over $100 million in commitments as its founders already begin to deploy capital.
The partners’ own money accounts for about 25 percent of the total, with the rest from third parties such as family offices and angel investment teams.
Corey Thompson, one of about forty partners involved in True Global Ventures from around the world, told DigFin the mission of the new TGV 4 Plus Fund is to back early- and mid-stage companies using blockchain technology to transform industries.
The partners in the fund include entrepreneurs such as Hong Kong’s Yat Siu, founder of Animoca Brands, a pioneer in monetizing gaming-related non-fungible tokens (NFTs); and Jani Rautianinen, founder of PropertyGuru in Singapore.
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Others partners are longstanding investors, such as Dusan Stojanovic, who was the moving force behind TGV; Greg Kidd, an early backer of Twitter and Square; and Bowie Lau, Hong Kong-based founder of MaGEHold.
A few partners, like Thompson, come from strategy or digital roles at big corporations: Thompson joined HSBC as its head of digital product in Hong Kong shortly after he helped co-found TGV.
Other examples from finance include Frank Desvignes, Paris-based head of open innovation at AXA and former founder of AXA Labs in Shanghai; and Luke and Linus Lim, executive director and CEO respectively of Philip Securities in Singapore.
Distributed investing for distributed ledgers
Thompson says the globally distributed partnership model is deliberate. “Traditional VCs involve a team in one location such as Silicon Valley,” he said. “But investing in new technology is different.”
That is because companies are emerging worldwide, not just in one or two tech hubs; and as a VC, providing value add to these companies requires having a broad network of people with a variety of domain knowledge and networks.
The partners made their first investments using their own money, starting in 2019. In 2020 they began attracting institutional assets. TGV is a typical VC in that it invests in the equity of risk-taking companies. TGV 4 Plus is a standard closed-ended fund.
Although the partners operate worldwide, the bulk of the investments are in Asia Pacific, reflecting the growth opportunities in the region. It is pursuing four themes within blockchain: gaming and entertainment, blockchain infrastructure, financial services, and data analytics and artificial intelligence.
Thompson outlined five initial investments made by the founders with their own money:
- One is Yat Siu’s Animoca Brands.
- The Sandbox is a gaming “metaverse” owned and operated by its users. It sells virtual real estate as NFTs using its internal currency, the Ethereum-based Sand, to transact – and as the gaming expands, the currency begins to acquire a real-world value.
- Forge Global is a digital market for shares in private companies. It allows shareholders of unlisted technology companies to trade their stocks, and gives outside investors a way to get exposure to companies that are not listed. Forge is now using transactions on its platform to build a data model of trading activity, which it can sell to companies to give them a more accurate view of their valuation – a handy tool for companies contemplating an IPO, or for VCs weighing an investment.
- QuantumRock is an A.I.-driven investment fund and an investing platform. It operates like a long/short hedge fund, but it relies on machine learning instead of active human stock pickers.
- Canada Computational Unlimited, in Quebec, is a bitcoin miner that operates only with renewable sources of energy. TGV is an equity investment fund and does not invest in cryptocurrencies. But there are two investment theses behind CCU. One is that the founders like its efforts to reduce bitcoin’s environmental impact. The other is that it is a company that can give institutional investors a proxy exposure to crypto.