Former Binance executives launch $100M crypto fund

·3 min read

A group of former executives from Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges globally, has created a $100 million venture fund, the team told TechCrunch on Thursday.

Old Fashion Research (OFR) -- whose name is derived from the classic cocktail -- was founded in late 2021 by managing partners Ling Zhang, who was previously the vice president of M&A and investments at Binance, and Wayne Fu, former head of corporate development at the crypto exchange.

The fund will be focused on the metaverse and bringing greater crypto adoption to emerging markets like Latin America and Africa, Zhang said to TechCrunch.

“We are keen to work with builders for the long run,” Zhang said. “We are very Southern Hemisphere-focused. … We’ll go after all of the emerging markets, but it’s our goal and vision to accelerate adoption there.”

While at Binance, Zhang was responsible for many acquisitions and strategic investments, including FTX, Multicoin Capital and CertiK.

The capital was raised by limited partners, traditional VC funds, family offices and angel investors both inside and outside the crypto ecosystem, with global gaming platform WEMIX leading the investment, Zhang noted.

The project was operating in stealth mode until today, but has invested in more than 50 blockchain projects to date, including blockchain analytics platform Nansen, trading platform WOO Network, move-to-earn NFT game Genopets and Africa’s largest gaming community, Metaverse Magna.

“We’re strong believers in the metaverse, not just user activity but the assets perspective,” Zhang said. “We believe web3 will be the very first step to revolutionize [our] own identities and asset management.”

Wei Zhou, the former CFO at Binance, will serve as a strategic adviser and investor of OFR, and its venture arm will be supported by partner Jiang Xin, who led Binance Labs’ and Launchpad’s major investment deals such as Axie Infinity, Moonbeam, Alpha Finance and others.

“The market conditions have cooled down a bit since the beginning of the year and we’re thinking it is more of an opportunity than a challenge for OFR,” Xin said. “Since [the fund] is newly started, we can find cheaper and more reasonable valuations during the market downturn and a lot of bubbles will be coming out.”

Zhang said she has noticed a growing interest of funds coming into the crypto space or new funds launching to invest in crypto after they saw the potentials of blockchain technology and crypto ecosystem.

“More and more VCs are looking for ways to invest in crypto projects,” Zhang said. “Crypto itself is a revolution and disruption of the capital plate. It’s no longer centralized in a top-down approach.”

Earlier this week, Andreessen Horowitz announced its fourth crypto-focused fund for $4.5 billion. The fund, more than double the size of its third fund of $2.2 billion, will dedicate one-third of its mega-fund to seed deals exclusively.

In recent weeks, there have been a number of mega-funds launched into the crypto space, which shows that even though markets might be down, venture capitalists are taking advantage of the sentiments and continuing to invest in the space.

When asked whether the market’s bearish sentiments will scare traditional firms from continuing their crypto investments, a16z general partner Arianna Simpson told TechCrunch that “it’s likely other firms will pull back,” but that “the size of our new fund speaks to the level of excitement and belief we have in this category.”

Zhang echoed that, noting that market downturns provide investors looking to deploy capital into the space with clarity on which bets to make.

“This is the best timing for us to identify the long-term believers in the crypto space and is the best timing to make investments and incubate more projects,” Zhang said.

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