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January 9, 2024
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Frosty Winter Chains: Crypto VC Struggles with Dwindling Dealflow


  • Investment in crypto falls below $2 billion in Q4, reflecting a significant downturn from previous highs.
  • Rising interest rates impact risk appetite, chilling investments across all VC sectors, including crypto.

Cryptocurrency-related venture capital inflows remained tepid in the final quarter of 2023, leaving many wondering: “Has the thaw even begun?”

Deal count plummeted to a new low of 359, a significant drop from the third quarter’s (Q3) 430. It’s also a far cry from the heady days of Q1 2022 when a whopping 1,119 deals were struck, according to Galaxy Research’s latest report. Investment followed suit, dipping to a chilly sub-$2 billion figure, a near 50% decline from Q3’s $3.8 billion and a mere shadow of Q1 2022’s exuberant $14.2 billion.

Alex Thorn, Head of Research at Galaxy Digital, digs deeper, uncovering the icy winds that kept VC wallets firmly clamped shut:

  • Rising interest rates: This icy climate chilled risk appetite across all VC sectors, not just crypto. While crypto suffered a 68% year-over-year decline in investment, all VC sectors endured a similarly painful 51% drop.
  • Burned fingers, wary minds: Several high-profile flame outs of VC-backed crypto firms left a bitter taste in the mouths of investors, turning them into skeptical fire marshals, scrutinizing every potential deal with a magnifying glass.
  • Growth in hibernation: Sectors like NFTs, gaming, and governance tokens, once seen as sizzling cauldrons of innovation, experienced a concerning pause, dampening enthusiasm for further investment.
  • Pricey echoes of a bull past: Exorbitant valuations from the 2021 bull market hung over the landscape like unwanted ghosts, making potential investors feel like they’d missed the boat and were staring at an ocean of overvalued waters.
  • Regulatory shadows looming: The specter of regulatory uncertainty played its chilling role, casting a long, dark shadow over the VC landscape.

Despite the frosty picture, a glimmer of hope peeks through. 2023, despite its icy grip, still emerged as the third-highest year ever for both total deals and capital invested. This speaks to the significant progress the crypto space has made, building solid foundations despite the temporary chill. Emerging trends like artificial intelligence and decentralized finance (DeFi) offer pockets of sunshine, hinting at potential growth areas for when the frost finally thaws.

The crypto VC landscape may be frozen for now, but beneath the icy surface, the seeds of future growth are taking root. As regulatory frameworks solidify and promising applications bloom, the thaw is expected to usher in a new era of innovation and investment. Until then, we huddle around the embers of hope, waiting for the spring sun.

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