Billionaire Steve Cohen is jumping on the cryptocurrency bandwagon. Cohen, a hedge fund manager and founder of Stamford, CT-based Point72 Asset Management, is backing Autonomous Partners, a newly-formed fund in the crypto and blockchain space.
Autonomous Partners was created in December last year by Arianna Simpson, a prolific early-stage investor with over 40 deals completed. It already has “eight-digit” investments from the likes of Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and Union Square Ventures.
Cohen, whose family office also founded Cohen Private Ventures in 2010, worked with Simpson on another fund, Crystal Towers Capital, in 2015. Simpson told Forbes that, with Autonomous Partners, she is only interested in “partners I think can be very much value-add beyond their capital.”
Autonomous will monitor firms in the “next generation” of cryptocurrency, added Simpson. The company will put money into existing crypto heavyweights like Bitcoin and Ethereum. But it is the industry around coins that excites her most.
“It’s still up in the air if people want to do a number of thing on the blockchain,” said Simpson. “We’re still figuring out what needs one and what doesn’t. But It’s clear they want to trade, and they want to play games.”
Blockchain is becoming one of 2018’s key tech stories, attracting startups and established tech brands to industries as disparate as construction, education and legal. The global cryptocurrency industry is set to be worth $1tr by the end of 2018 – despite warnings from respected economists that it is an overhyped flash-in-the-pan.
“Practically no-one, outside of computer science departments, can explain how cryptocurrencies work, and that mystery creates an aura of exclusivity, gives the new money glamour, and fills devotees with revolutionary zeal,” said Nobel prize-winning economist Robert Shiller recently. “None of this is new, and, as with past monetary innovations, a seemingly compelling story may not be enough.”