Binance, one of the world’s most popular cryptocurrency exchanges, announced Thursday that it has launched a $1 billion “Social Impact” fund to back cryptocurrency and blockchain startups.
According to the announcement, which first broke on Hong Kong-based news outlet China Money Network, Binance plans on using its BNB token to make direct investments in startups, as well as investments in other blockchain funds, creating a fund of funds.
Binance’s incubator arm, Binance Labs, will be managing the fund’s capital distribution, focusing mainly on pre-ICO startups. Ella Zhang, head of Binance Labs, shared that the first project to receive direct funding from the initiative is Didi, a blockchain-based ride-hailing app. Additionally, Zhang explained that Binance plans to invest in up to 20 separate venture funds with the stipulation that these funds already have $100 million in assets under management (AUM).
Binance is no stranger to the world of venture capital. Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance, is facing ongoing legal pressure from venture capital firm Sequoia, as a result of a funding deal that fell through. According to Hong Kong court filings from March 26 and April 24, Zhao had been courting Sequoia for a possible investment, but negotiations broke down when Zhao’s team told Sequoia that Binance’s existing shareholders thought the proposed deal drastically undervalued the exchange.
Binance joins ranks of a growing number of companies and VC firms that have launched dedicated funds focused on the cryptocurrency industry.