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Crypto exchange FTX launches $2 billion venture fund for blockchain, gaming, health care

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FTX Head of Venture and Commercial Amy Wu joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the launch of a venture fund that will invest in many different areas and the outlook for crypto.

Video transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

ZACK GUZMAN: Well, crypto giant, FTX, is doubling down on its efforts to grow the entire crypto space. That is the subject of today's crypto corner segment, presented by TastyWorks. And not just growing the space with little efforts, but $2 billion worth of firepower here to invest in web 3 and other crypto projects, and bringing on an extreme power player in the crypto space as well in Lightspeed Venture partners.

Head, Amy Wu, is now going to be leading that fund of $2 billion and she joins us here, FTX Head of Venture and Commercial, the new title, I think Amy, if I'm reading that correctly here. But nonetheless, interesting to pair the dots as you kind of led the round in FTX before. Now joining to run this one. I mean, what are the goals here with $2 billion to put to work?

AMY WU: Yeah. Super excited to join FTX, and we're launching FTX Ventures today. Thanks for having me on. What we want to do with the $2 billion first fund is we want to back great teams in the crypto and web free space predominantly. We're looking to be strategic capital and leverage our very large resources and also expertise in crypto on the exchange side, also on the engineering side, with the projects and teams that we get to work with.

And also to be really flexible capital. We don't have external partners in the fund. And so, we can write a check of pretty much any size, like $100,000, $500 million. And at any stage of company as well. We're long term thinkers and partners here and are super excited to get to work with great, great builders.

ZACK GUZMAN: It might be the best job to highlight here, in terms of-- also, on top of this. We know FTX is building the compound down in the Bahamas. Now you're down there too. But when it comes to FTX, I guess, what has you most excited for the role too? Obviously, Sam Bankman-Fried's been on the show, been very excited about what Solana could offer to the crypto space and play to earn in gaming. I mean, what do you think right now is maybe the biggest sector or piece of crypto to watch in 2022 you'll be chasing?

AMY WU: Yeah. I mean, the interesting thing is crypto is still so early, you know? On the order of still, I would say, under 20 million people that are actively trading in DeFis. And a few million people who are holding crypto. And so, we're excited to be in an early. I mean, FTX has been early. And we're looking to invest across sectors.

So some of the areas really excited about, Web 3, gaming, I would say DeFi, sort of what's going on in the ecosystems across L1s, certainly Solana, and others. You're seeing Near and Arbitrum, and L2's coming online this year. And also some of the newer categories, like health care, exploring blockchain as well. So we're really excited to invest across the board.

AKIKO FUJI: Yeah. Let's talk a bit more about health care. What kind of adoption do you see? I mean, we've seen so much money pour into this space. Now you've got $2 billion that you can deploy. What do you see? What applications do you see in health care?

AMY WU: It's super early, I would say, in health care, right? I mean, you have a regulated industry in crypto and you have very regulated industry in health care as well. So I think that one still going to be really early. Obviously, with smartchain technologies, there's a lot of ways to be adopted in health care, but we'll see. And we're going to be looking across applications and also in live sciences.

ZACK GUZMAN: Amy, I got a weird one here for you, but just kind of reflecting on what Web 3 really means and kind of the way that some of those projects have been built out. It does kind of seem odd to see Venture now kind of playing into this space. Of course, we've kind of seen some crypto Twitter spats between Jack Dorsey and other people in crypto Venture.

But what does it look like? I mean, what is kind of the mandate? I assume in building all this out, it's not necessarily all about profit or returns, but also kind of how big you can grow the space. And Sam's an outside-of-the-box thinker. So, I mean, what is really, I guess, the goal as you calculate it?

AMY WU: Well, I would say-- I mean, there's the FTX's goals and then our Venture team's goals. On FTX, we want to power the financial services and also users of crypto, I would say, both individuals and companies as well. I mean, today, it's the second, third largest crypto exchange, depending on how you look at it

But then the company in the last year has also built out the wallets, payments infrastructure, and we're looking at other categories as well. And so, I think we're well on the way to becoming a super app for users in interacting with crypto across the ecosystem. And also as a platform, middleware infrastructure platform for companies, Web 2, and otherwise who are looking to build into Web 3 and on blockchains as well.

And so, both FTX and also FTX Ventures is looking to accelerate this vision and support companies in the ecosystem that share this vision.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah. ANd lastly, I guess it's just a follow up to that question too, there's a lot of ways to raise money now. In the Web 3 space, we've seen that with kind of crowd funds and tokenizing some of your efforts out there. But I guess that would kind of overlook what the FTX team and what you in your career at Lightspeed kind of brings to the table and what you get from a VC in terms of guidance and stuff like that? So, I mean, how active is that to be a piece of, I guess, the offering here as FTX launches this fund?

AMY WU: It's really important. I would say in the last five years in crypto, there has been a lot of index funds. And it was definitely a rising tide, lifting a lot of boats in the sector. But I think we're moving into a next phase in which funds and investors and partners really need to differentiate themselves in terms of the value they bring to the table.

And so, it's everything from being that 2:00 AM call from a founder who really needs some critical advice on a decision they're making, to thinking through how they're designing a protocol, security for a protocol also. Go to market, how to reach users leveraging the experience that we're seeing across the portfolio and also with FTX itself. And so, we're launching with a team of eight people all very experienced in a space. And we're all sort of ready at a team's disposal to be able to support them in building their business.

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