Blockchain Dynamo Launches a $50 Million Fund for Startups

Brooklyn-based ConsenSys will be looking to invest in companies to build up the Ethereum ecosystem

Joseph Lubin, founder of ConsenSys, which has launched a venture fund (Cole Wilson/The New York Times/Redux)

Brooklyn was already a contender in the gold rush toward blockchain technology, thanks to ConsenSys, an industry leader that grew up fast in Bushwick. But today ConsenSys raised the stakes when it announced that it’s launching and funding a $50 million venture-capital arm, ConsenSys Ventures. The new enterprise will invest in growing the ecosystem around Ethereum, the blockchain platform for which ConsenSys develops applications. The new fund would be the largest VC fund in Brooklyn, according to Brooklyn.

Until recently, the most recognized app for blockchain, a kind of digital ledger, has been its role as a platform for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether, the token used in the Ethereum system. The value of such currencies has skyrocketed in recent months, surpassing most other investments, and reaching a collective market capitalization of $162 billion.

Kavita Gupta, who was named the head of ConsenSys Ventures (Photo courtesy of ConsenSys)

Beyond all the hoopla, however, mainstream corporations have started to embrace the idea that the technology could have a broad-based, transformative effect on the way the world works: how funds are raised, assets are traded, records are kept. “Incumbent businesses in countless industries, from finance to energy to health care to food, are peeling back the layers on this budding technology, seeing the potential to trim costs, share and secure information more efficiently, and unleash new products at unprecedented speed,” declared Fortune in a cover story titled “Blockchain Mania!”

To run the new VC fund, ConsenSys named Kavita Gupta as founding managing partner. Most recently, Gupta had worked for the family foundation of Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. A graduate of MIT, Gupta created the first “green bond” at the World Bank and was named the UN Social Finance Innovator of the Year. “She is a tremendous partner to support and further the decentralized revolution that blockchain is bringing to bear around the world,” said Joseph Lubin, the founder of ConsenSys, in making the announcement. Gupta stated that she believes in the potential of blockchain tech “to completely change the way society functions.”

ConsenSys is growing rapidly, not only planning dozens of hires but also launching the ConsenSys Academy to teach coding to future masters of Ethereum programming.

Humble portal: Passers-by might never know that behind this scruffy door on Bogart Street in Bushwick, ConsenSys is developing an ascendant technology (Photo by Steve Koepp)

Steve Koepp is the editor of The Bridge. Previously, he was editorial director of Time Inc. Books, executive editor of Fortune and deputy managing editor of Time.