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Binance taps 36-year-old billionaire co-founder to lead VC arm



Binance taps 36-year-old billionaire co-founder to lead VC arm

The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange is turning to one of its earliest leaders to help guide its venture capital efforts.

On Wednesday, Binance announced that He Yi—its 36-year-old co-founder—would take over Binance Labs, the company’s venture capital arm. 

Binance, in addition to being an exchange, has one of the largest investment funds in the crypto space. In a statement announcing the leadership change, the exchange claimed that it had $7.5 billion under management, with a 2,100% rate of return on its investments since Binance Labs launched in 2018. 

Binance has invested in over 200 companies, according to its statement, including in companies like Sky Mavis, the developer behind play-to-earn game Axie Infinity, and Stepn, the so-called move-to-earn game that rewards runners with cryptocurrency. 

He will take over Binance’s venture arm at a moment when its ambitions are growing. Until recently, the exchange has only invested its own money in crypto startups. In June, it launched a $500 million fund with backing from external investors like DST Global Partners, Breyer Capital, and other institutional investors. 

An ‘O.G. in the blockchain community’

He has been part of the cryptocurrency space for almost a decade, first entering the sector in 2014 as a co-founder of cryptocurrency exchange OKCoin. “I’m one of the O.G. in the blockchain community,” she told Fortune earlier this year. 

She joined Binance in 2017, partnering with founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao. Since then, she’s helped manage the exchange’s startup incubator and charitable arms and most recently served as its chief marketing officer. 

Zhao, in a statement to Fortune in July, called He “one of the hardest working people I know on Earth, even today” and “integral to Binance’s success.”

Crypto crash

He is taking over Binance Labs at a difficult time for the industry, as crashing cryptocurrency prices have sent several decentralized finance projects, like crypto lender Celsius Network and hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, into bankruptcy.

He told Bloomberg that she sees the downturn as “the best time for investing more aggressively,” noting her prior experience “through two bear markets.” That echoes a sentiment among other big investors who view the downturn as a chance to build a stronger crypto industry. 

During a previous bear market in crypto, He helped grow OKCoin’s market share in China by 60%.

Fellow crypto exchange FTX and its founder Sam Bankman-Fried have offered to bail out failing crypto ventures, like Voyager Digital, to protect customers and halt contagion among the sector. “The mandate here was not to try to make amazing acquisitions. The mandate here was to make deals that are kind of reasonable, maybe even a little bad, but not horrific,” Bankman-Fried told Fortune. (Binance invested in FTX in 2019)

The new head of Binance Labs implied that she’d take a more cautious approach, saying Binance “can’t buy something just for the sake of buying it,” to Bloomberg

Some of Binance’s earlier investments have suffered amid the broader crypto bust. Binance Labs was an early investor in Terraform Labs, the developer of the Luna and TerraUSD cryptocurrencies which crashed earlier this year. The crypto exchange was a lead investor in a $32 million funding round in Terraform in 2018, investing $3 million of its own money. 

After Terraform Labs’ cryptocurrencies lost almost all of their value in May, Zhao told Fortune in June that “the whole situation was a disaster.”

Zhao also offered $500 billion in what he characterized as a “blank check” to help fund Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s—now halted—purchase of Twitter.

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Coinbase’s near-term outlook is ‘still grim’, JPMorgan says, while BofA is more positive about firm’s ability to face crypto winter



Coinbase's near-term outlook is 'still grim', JPMorgan says, while BofA is more positive about firm's ability to face crypto winter

Coinbase is well positioned to successfully navigate this crypto winter and take market share, Bank of America said in a research report Tuesday. It maintained its buy recommendation following the exchange’s second-quarter results.

The results warrant “a muted stock reaction,” the report said. Net revenue of $803 million was below the bank’s and consensus estimates, while its adjusted $151 million loss before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization was better than the street expected. Importantly, the company remains “cautiously optimistic” it can reach its goal of no more than $500 million of adjusted EBITDA loss for the full year, the report added.

Coinbase shares fell almost 8% in premarket trading to $80.74.

Bank of America notes that Coinbase had no counterparty exposure to the crypto insolvencies witnessed in the second quarter. The company also has a “history of no credit losses from financing activities, holds customer assets 1:1, and any lending activity of customer crypto is at the discretion of the customer, with 100%+ collateral required.” These rigorous risk-management practices will be a “positive long-term differentiator” for the stock, the bank said.

JPMorgan said Coinbase had endured another challenging quarter, while noting some positives.

Trading volume and revenue were down materially. Subscription revenue was also lower, but would have been much worse were it not for higher interest rates, it said in a research report Wednesday.

The company is taking steps on expense management, and in addition to the June headcount reductions, is scaling back marketing and pausing some product investments, the note said.

The bank says the company’s near-term outlook is “still grim,” noting that the exchange expects a continued decline in 3Q 2022 monthly transacting users (MTUs) and trading volumes, but says Coinbase could take more “cost actions” if crypto prices fall further.

JPMorgan is less optimistic than Bank of America about the company in the near term, saying pressure on revenue from falling crypto markets will have a negative impact on the stock price. Still, it sees positives including higher interest rates, from which the firm will generate revenue. It also sees opportunities for the exchange to grow its user base, leveraging almost $6 billion of cash. The surge in crypto prices in July, and the forthcoming Ethereum Merge are also seen as positive catalysts, it added.

The bank maintained its neutral rating on the stock and raised its price target to $64 from $61.

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Elon Musk sold $6.9B in Tesla stock in case he’s forced to buy Twitter



Elon Musk sold $6.9B in Tesla stock in case he's forced to buy Twitter

Elon Musk sold $6.9 billion of his shares in Tesla Inc., the billionaire’s biggest sale on record, saying he needed cash in case he is forced to go ahead with his aborted deal to buy Twitter Inc.

“In the (hopefully unlikely) event that Twitter forces this deal to close *and* some equity partners don’t come through, it is important to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock,” Musk tweeted late Tuesday after the sales were disclosed in a series of regulatory filings. 

Asked by followers if he was done selling and would buy Tesla stock again if the $44 billion deal doesn’t close, Musk responded: “Yes.”

Tesla’s chief executive officer offloaded about 7.92 million shares on Aug. 5, according to the new filings. The sale comes just four months after the world’s richest person said he had no further plans to sell Tesla shares after disposing of $8.5 billion of stock in the wake of his initial offer to buy Twitter.  

Musk last month said he was terminating the agreement to buy the social network where he has more than 102 million followers and take it private, claiming the company has made “misleading representations” over the number of spam bots on the service. Twitter has since sued to force Musk to consummate the deal, and a trial in the Delaware Chancery Court has been set for October. 

In May, Musk dropped plans to partially fund the purchase with a margin loan tied to his Tesla stake and increased the size of the equity component of the deal to $33.5 billion. He had previously announced that he secured $7.1 billion of equity commitments from investors including billionaire Larry Ellison, Sequoia Capital, and Binance. 

“I’ll put the odds at 75% that he’s buying Twitter. I’m shocked,” said Gene Munster, a former technology analyst who’s now a managing partner at venture-capital firm Loup Ventures. “This is going to be a headwind for Tesla in the near term. In the long term, all that matters is deliveries and gross margin.”

At the weekend, Musk tweeted that if Twitter provided its method of sampling accounts to determine the number of bots and how they are confirmed to be real, “the deal should proceed on original terms.” 

Musk, 51, has now sold around $32 billion worth of stock in Tesla over the past 10 months. The disposals started in November after Musk, a prolific Twitter user, polled users of the platform on whether he should trim his stake. The purpose of the latest sales wasn’t immediately clear.  

Tesla shares have risen about 35% from recent lows reached in May, though are still down about 20% this year. 

With a $250.2 billion fortune, Musk is the world’s richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, but his wealth has fallen around $20 billion this year as Tesla shares declined.    

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The rent is too d*mn high for Gen Z: Younger generations are ‘squeezed the most’ by higher rents, BofA says



The rent is too d*mn high for Gen Z: Younger generations are 'squeezed the most' by higher rents, BofA says

Most of Gen Z is too young to remember the 2010 New York gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan.

But over a decade later, they would probably agree with his signature issue (and catchphrase): the rent is too damn high.

This July, median rent payments were 7.4% higher than during the same period last year, according to a Bank of America report released Tuesday. 

The national median price for a one-bedroom apartment has been hitting new highs nearly every month this summer. It was $1,450 for July, according to rental platform Zumper. In the country’s largest city, New York, average rent exceeded a shocking $5,000 a month for the first time ever in June. 

But inflation in the rental market hasn’t hit each generation equally, and no one is getting squeezed harder by the higher monthly payments as Gen Z. Those born after 1996 have seen their median rent payment go up 16% since last July, compared to just a 3% increase for Baby Boomers, BofA internal data shows. 
“Younger consumers are getting squeezed the most by higher rent inflation,” BofA wrote.

The great rent comeback

Early in the pandemic, landlords slashed rents and gave significant COVID discounts to entice tenants to stay instead of leaving urban areas. Once those deals started expiring in 2021, many landlords suddenly raised payments once again, sometimes asking for over double their pandemic value. 

Young people across the board have been hit hard, and rent burdens compared to age can be seen even within a single generation. Younger millennials had their median rent payment grow 11% from last year, while the median payment for older millennials rose 7%. Gen X experienced a 5% median rent increase, according to BofA. 

It’s not a surprise, then, that Gen Z feels so strapped for cash. The majority of young people, 61%, said they want to receive their wages daily instead of twice a week, a practice typically reserved for workers living paycheck to paycheck, according to a report from the Center for Generational Kinetics, which specializes in research across the generations. Rising rent inflation has even priced nearly a third of Gen Zers out of the apartment search altogether. Around 29% of them have resorted to living at home as a “long-term housing solution,” according to a June survey from personal finance company Credit Karma.

It’s no wonder—the rent really is too high.

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