Usually, venture funds seek advisors for many roles-for investing, recruiting talent, and even technical support. Rarely, however, do they seek academics to bring scholarly rigour to their operations. But that's just what billionaire Fred Ehrsam has done in recruiting Georgetown law professor Chris Brummer to work with his fund.
After raising a whopping $2.5 billion, the Paradigm fund has been on a tear, attracting key talent from across the ecosystem as it prepares to enter into a rapidly maturing crypto ecosystem. Noticeably, however, one of its first moves has been to double down on what has long been a feature of the fund—its research focus and bona fides. Paradigm
is a venture capital firm based out of San Francisco, California. Founded in 2018, by Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam and ex-Sequoia Capital partner Matt Huang, it is one of the leading institutions in the crypto sphere. After its inception, Paradigm took a calculated leap of faith when it began investing during a ‘crypto winter’. This was a period during which many well-meaning technology giants regarded crypto as a technology lacking in substance. Huang recently spoke about how the idea of forming Paradigm came after both partners witnessed a gap in the market. They felt that the right kind of investment firm did not exist for crypto entrepreneurs.
Paradigm, however, held two strong beliefs that allowed it to excel in a rapidly changing space. First, they believed that crypto was a disruptive technology. It possessed the ability to transform how we think about money, the broader financial system, and the internet.
Second, that the best way for Paradigm to assist this flow of technology would be to partner up with crypto entrepreneurs and the community at large, enabling them to gain access to funding as well as technical expertise. To support this view, the firm set out on an aggressive hiring spree to bring together the best in their fields, whether it was research, engineering, security, talent, communications and marketing, legal, or policy. This would enable the companies of tomorrow to be supported by the most talented individuals of today.
Paradigm’s latest fund of $2.5 billion is the largest yet, surpassing that raised by Andreessen Horowitz earlier this year. The fund is aimed at supporting disruptive crypto/Web3 companies and protocols with as little as $1m and as much as $100m+. The firm is known for getting involved at the early stages of incubation while injecting additional capital when required. It aims to be closely involved in building the staircase to the future for Web3, DeFi, and crypto in general.
The firm has several brilliant companies on its investment portfolio, including Coinbase (digital currency exchange), Uniswap (decentralized trading protocol), and Chainalysis (crypto data platform). Paradigm’s most recent investment ventures include Solana-powered lending protocol, Jet Protocol, and nonfungible token (NFT)-based battling game AI Arena. The firm has also recently begun exploring NFT platforms, by investing in Royal and Fractional this August.
Dr Chris Brummer, meanwhile, has long been a recurring voice in both academic and policymaking circles. He is no stranger when it comes to existing financial structures and systems, but his real talent lies in the financial world of tomorrow, which is the intersection of technology, finance, and regulation. A professor and faculty director of Georgetown’s Institute of International Economic Law, Brummer has taught at several prestigious universities. In addition to his service to academia, Brummer is a member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s subcommittee on Virtual Currencies and has served as a member of the Consultative Working Group for the European Securities and Markets Authority’s Financial Innovation Standing Committee. Brummer recently finished a term as a member of the National Adjudicatory Council of FINRA, an organisation with powers invested by congress, tasked to regulate the securities industry. His work there was viewed as vital in ensuring the promotion of investor protection.
Brummer, who lives with his wife, the financial regulatory attorney Rachel Loko, in Washington, D.C., is regularly involved in creating platforms aimed at democratising people’s access to cutting edge programming. He is, among other things, the founder and host of the DC Fintech Week Conference
, an international conference that brings together the who’s who of the finance world in fruitful discussions on the fintech ecosystem.
Notably, a good portion of Brummer’s work at the fund is likely to focus on financial inclusion
. As a longstanding advocate of addressing inequality and the racial wealth gap, his work has spanned the financial markets ecosystem, with a special emphasis lately on minority depository institutions. How and in what way crypto can and will contribute to the conversation is very much a topic of considerable interest on Capitol Hill, and Brummer may be in an ideal position to explore, and ultimately inform, workstreams taking place among engineers and policymakers.