As crypto unicorns multiply, the US stands out as ground zero for blockchain winners

By | November 19, 2021


The market for crypto-focused investing is growing rapidly. News that Paradigm put together a $2.5 billion fund the other day is a reminder of the scale of funds now available to startups looking to build on the blockchain. Andreessen Horowitz has a mega-fund in the market as well, while Coinbase Ventures is setting a blistering pace for a corporate venture firm.

The result of the run-up in capital availability has led to, as in many other venture markets, larger and more rapid-fire rounds — and more unicorns.

While the now-dated unicorn valuation threshold of $1 billion is losing some of its salience in a market where there are hundreds of unicorns globally, inside a single niche the metric can still prove useful. The crypto market is one such place.

The Block, a crypto-focused publication and research operation, has a new data collection out this morning that highlights just how rapidly the unicorn cohort is expanding in the crypto space. The data set also details where unicorns are being formed, in both focus terms — exchanges, NFT platforms, etc. — and geographically.

Key takeaways today are that the United States, despite certain domestic complaints that it is hostile to the crypto economy, is by far the dominant single market for crypto unicorn creation, and that the business-model mix of crypto unicorns is broader than I anticipated. Let’s dig in!

Money

It’s the perfect moment to discuss crypto unicorns, and not because Paradigm just secured billions to invest. Furthermore, rumor is out that OpenSea, an NFT platform, is considering raising capital at a $10 billion valuation. The company was last valued at $1.5 billion earlier this year. That’s the sort of valuation appreciation that some crypto startups are enjoying today.

The result? There are now 64 total crypto unicorns. And, per The Block Research, that figure has grown by 39 so far in 2021. Simply: More than half of the global crypto unicorns reached the $1 billion threshold this year alone.

There are a few reasons why. Crypto trading has proven to be nearly comedically lucrative, leading to a number of exchanges raising what we might describe as hella bank. But more than that, crypto assets themselves have proven to be profitable trades to host. NFT marketplaces are minting cash, adding more unicorns to the tally.

Here’s The Block’s breakdown of today’s crypto unicorn model makeup:



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