Founded only two years ago by former Goldman Sachs employees David Chreng-Messembourg, Baptiste Cota and Jean-Marc Puel, this is the firm's second fund, which it has so far raised capital in the tens of millions. With its first, it made bets on startups such as Yuga Labs, Bitpanda and BlockFi.
"We've raised and deployed most of our first fund over the past two years," said Chreng-Messembourg in an interview with The Block. "But we've been pushed by our LPs to launch fund two faster as we're in a cooldown period where there's a lot of value to be created."
The new fund, which will invest in both tokens and equity, is backed by family offices, hedge fund managers and financial institutions — as well as a who's who of crypto market makers. These include GSR, the Coatue-backed Portofino Technologies, Woorton and Keyrock among others. Wintermute co-founder Yoann Turpin is also investing in the fund, as is SwissBorg founder Cyrus Fazel.
Making a market
Chreng-Messembourg says that part of the reason he roped in crypto market makers — many of whom usually prefer to invest directly via their venture arms — is so that they can get access to the tokens issued by LeadBlock-backed projects.
This also means that founders get access to a selection of investor-vetted market makers.
"It's already very difficult to find a co-founder [as a founder], recruit, raise capital, build the product, and scale," said Chreng-Messembourg. "And within two years, on top of that, your investors are asking you to design the tokenomics, negotiate the market-making deal and the listing partners with the exchanges."
Instead, the LeadBlock team will handle the market makers and exchanges. For that reason, the firm aims to mostly invest in startups at Seed and Series A stages — those in a pre-token generation or pre-listing phase.
Along with the fund, the firm has created a committee that looks to connect different corners of the industry. Members include Animoca Brands' chief operating officer Arnold Concepcion, professor of economics and blockchain academic chair at Ecole Polytechnique Paris Julien Prat, and Horizen Labs founder Liat Aaronson, who was behind Yuga Lab's ApeCoin launch.
LeadBlock is also looking to conduct office hours for venture firms curious about crypto but yet to fully take the plunge, such as Earlybird, Hedosophia, Alven and Cathay Capital, and concentrating particularly on firms with French connections. LeadBlock recently opened an office in Paris to make a strong push in the French ecosystem.
Chreng-Messembourg wasn’t able to give a timeline for the complete close but cited that traditional fund timelines are around 24 months. He said the capital is ready to be wired and envisions the firm will start deploying early next year as it continues to raise.