New US$50M Blockchain VC Fund Proof of Capital Launches

Proof of Capital website homepage

A new venture capital fund called Proof of Capital was launched on Wednesday with US$50 million in funding. The fund will invest in blockchain startups with a focus on fintech, infrastructure, hardware and consumer products.

The fund was raised last month with backing from the likes of HTC Exodus, a Taiwanese smartphone and consumer electronics manufacturer, YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, and Taiwanese company Formosa Plastics.

Edith Yeung, one of the fund’s founders and a partner at 500 Startups, an early stage venture fund based in Silicon Valley, told TechCrunch:

“Some of these backers are curious at the possibilities of blockchain. For example, they’re giving us some ideas on how tokenization and gamification could be applied on different platforms.”

Proof of Capital has already made its first investment in Ubanx, a Latin America-based blockchain startup that provides an API banking infrastructure for fiat-crypto exchange in Argentina, Brazil and other countries in the region.

Yeung told Reuters that the fund aims to “to meet and build long-term partnerships with founders who want to define this new Internet.”

Alongside Yeung, Proof of Capital, which has offices in San Francisco, Hong Kong and Taipei, counts Phil Chen, the “decentralized chief officer” of HTC and original creator of the HTC Vive virtual reality headset and the HTC Exodus blockchain phone product lines, as well as Chris McCann, who previously founded and led the community program at Greylock Partners, as its founders.

Proof of Capital founding partners Edith Yeung, Chris McCann and Phil Chen

The fund has also inked a partnership with HTC Exodus, which will open the possibility for its portfolio companies to work directly with the manufacturer to develop services and products for the Exodus phones and potentially other HTC blockchain ventures.  

“For HTC, it’s obvious, they already have a product to go with it,” Yeung told TechCrunch adding that HTC was interested in investing in blockchain services and startups to build an ecosystem.

According to the company’s website, Proof of Capital will put an emphasis on “real adoption and global distribution” with a particular focus on Asian and emerging markets. The company said it is looking for “founders who share our ethos and global perspective” which it will support through customer and business development, marketing, branding, and distribution, alongside capital.

Advisors to Proof of Capital include Greg Kidd, the former chief risk of Ripple; Howard Wu, the co-founder of Dekrypt Capital and a cryptography researcher at the University of California, Berkeley; Dominic Williams, the founder of Dfinity; Dawn Song, a Berkeley professor and the founder of Oasis; and Kas Vardhanabhuti, a former trader at the George Soros Fund.

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Australia Wants To Be “A Global Leader” In Blockchain Tech

Image: Karen Andrews, Australia’s minister for industry, science and technology, speaks at ADC Forum Global Blockchain Summit 2019, March 18, 2019, @karenandrewsmp, via Twitter

In a bid to turn its blockchain industry into “a global leader,” Australia will be developing a national blockchain roadmap and allocating AU$100,000 (US$71,000) to domestic blockchain startups to increase their global exposure and for networking purposes.

According to a joint statement from the Australian minister for industry, science and technology, and the Australian minister for trade, tourism and investment, released on Monday, the roadmap “will focus on a number of policy areas including regulation, skills and capacity building, innovation, investment, and international competitiveness and collaboration,” and will be developed in close consultation with the blockchain industry.

Karen Andrews, Australia’s minister for industry, science and technology, emphasized that Australia had to seize the opportunities presented by blockchain, and stated:

“The national strategy puts us on the front foot in exploring how government and industry can enhance the long-term development of blockchain and its uses.

“We will work closely with blockchain and technology experts from industry and academia to develop the strategy, as well as with [the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, or] CSIRO’s Data61 to incorporate findings from their forthcoming future scenarios report on blockchain.”

The CSIRO is an Australian federal science agency responsible for science research. Its digital innovation center, Data61, has spearheaded several blockchain projects including the “Making Money Smart” trial, which sought to explore the potential of blockchain to create “smart money” through using the case of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and Red Belly Blockchain, a “next generation” blockchain project promising increased speed and energy efficiencies at a global scale.  

“In addition, AU$100,000 funding will come through my department for Australian companies to join [the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, or] Austrade’s Mission to Consensus in New York in May, a landmark event for the blockchain industry, demonstrating the Morrison government’s commitment to boosting this sector,” Andrews added.

Simon Birmingham, Australia’s minister for trade, tourism and investment, stressed the importance of the country’s blockchain startups to “stay ahead of the game in one of the world’s fastest growing technology sectors.”

“Austrade’s upcoming mission will connect Australian blockchain companies and startups with investors and customers with a view to expanding their businesses globally,” Birmingham said, adding that Consensus, an event bringing major blockchain companies, developers, founders and investors each year to New York City, will provide promising Australian startups with the platform to showcase their products on the world-stage as well as the opportunity to network with key players in the space.

The announcement of Australia’s national blockchain roadmap comes at a time when local organizations Thomas Foods International, Australia’s largest 100% family-owned meat processor, and Drakes Supermarket, the country’s largest independent grocery retailer, are adopting blockchain to improve food traceability.

The two companies have joined IBM’s blockchain-based food ecosystem solution IBM Food Trust, a solution they have been testing for the past three months with the goal of delivering improvements in day-to-day operational efficiencies.  

“We expect to see more of this collaboration in the coming year, with groups of partners working together for the benefit of the entire food industry,” said Rupert Colchester, head of blockchain at IBM Australia and New Zealand.

“Transparency and traceability are the key to many industries now, and none more so than in the critical issues of food safety and provenance.”