“We invest very aggressively in tokens” – An interview with Sebastian Blum
Berlin-based crypto venture capitalist Greenfield One was launched in 2018 by VC veteran Sebstian Blum and serial founder Jascha Samadi. In December, the VC has now announced the launch of a second fund with a Bitcoin Pro target volume of €50 million. The money comes from the investment arm of the international media group Bertelsmann, among others. Sebastian Blum told us in an interview how competitive the Berlin crypto scene is, why the VC also invests in tokens and which topics are particularly on Greenfield One’s radar.
Why does it even take a venture capitalist to focus only on the crypto space? Can’t a regular VC do the job as well?
On the one hand, capital-acquirers are looking for expertise. But since the crypto sector is relatively new, it needs specialised know-how – and that is in short supply in Europe. In Asia and the US, VCs specialised in the crypto sector much earlier. On the other hand, we have created a whole new area with cryptocurrencies. We are trying to build a platform for investors here, where we pool investor money and market the corresponding know-how. We want to make it possible to enter the completely new asset class of cryptocurrencies.
So the US is clearly ahead of us as a VC location – or do you also see aspects that speak against the US?
The US has one big disadvantage: regulation. Other locations are much more open to cryptocurrencies. One example is Switzerland. Many crypto foundations and companies have settled there. Even though Switzerland is not part of the EU, it is still in Europe and thus within the same time zone.
The fact that the US still dominates is probably due to historical reasons. It is simply a very large market. Traditionally, the US is also a pioneer in terms of technology companies. There is a high affinity there for spreading and financing innovation. In addition, there are economies of scale such as larger funds and established partnerships.
And how would you assess the competitiveness of the crypto scene in Europe, especially Berlin, compared to the US one?
I think the competitiveness of the local crypto scene is definitely there. It’s true that the entrepreneurial spirit is more pronounced in the US than here. On the other hand, that is also an advantage. Because it means that we have structures here that don’t exist in the US.
Meanwhile, Berlin has already built up an insane ecosystem for the crypto sector. With the world’s largest Ethereum office in Kreuzberg, you have an absolute house number here. Then there are Parity, Polkadot, Web 3 Foundation, Celo and Cosmos, for example. In Berlin, you have an incredibly high concentration of entrepreneurs in the crypto sector. Then we are close to Eastern Europe and thus in close proximity to a strong hacker culture that, due to the current political situation, would rather work in Western Europe than in the US. We have the chance here to become the interface of an alternative, decentralised infrastructure.
You have already launched a crypto VC fund in 2018. How is your second crypto fund different now?
2018 to 2020 – that is still a relatively short time for a fund. Therefore, the investment focus is partly the same, partly new. But with both funds we are still in the infrastructure phase. So it’s about promoting basic innovations, less about products that can really be consumed. However, the new fund is much larger. We are now also investing as a lead investor with much larger sums. This means that we will now be able to make a much more significant presence in the investor community.