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Breaking: Harvard Goes Crypto

Sead Fadilpašić
Last updated: | 2 min read

The cryptoverse just got another sign of acknowledgement – Ivy League university Harvard’s endowment has invested directly into decentralized computing network Blockstack’s token sale, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing.

Source: iStock/HaizhanZheng

The university’s endowment, Harvard Management Company (HMC,) is the largest academic endowment in the world, worth USD 39.2 billion in 2018.

The news went public after Blockstack has announced their intent to hold another token sale, this SEC-regulated, to raise USD 50 million, which, if approved, would be the first such case in the history of the nascent industry.

Blockstack is looking to raise funds under the SEC Regulation A+ framework, where the funds “will be used to accelerate the development of the Blockstack decentralized computing network and app ecosystem,” the company announced. This is not the first fundraising effort of the company: in November 2017, they raised a total of USD 26.3 million through selling their so-called Stacks Tokens (STX), followed by another round in December 2017, which got them USD 21.2 million. The funds are subject to return should Blockstack fails to meet certain milestones, to be tracked by a token advisory board.

The token advisory board, named LP Advisory Committee, consists of seven members, three of which are Charlie Saravia, Zavain Dar and Rodolfo Gonzalez – designees of affiliates of the Harvard Management Company, Lux Capital and Foundation Capital, respectively. These three have purchased a total of 95,833,333 Stacks Tokens – around USD 11.5 million, according to the SEC filing. The amount purchased by each separate member remains unclear.

However, according to Anthony Pompliano, co-founder and partner at Morgan Creek Digital, a digital asset management firm, the amount now owned by the Harvard Management Company would thus fall between USD 5 and USD 10 million dollars. “This means that one of the leading university endowments is comfortable holding tokens directly,” he recently tweeted without elaborating on his calculations.

HMC declined to comment as they “do not comment on specific investments.”

Blockstack is working to create a platform for decentralized, privacy-focused applications that can act as alternatives to the software that most people use every day. An example is Graphite – an alternative to Google Docs, which is already live.

Meanwhile, in October 2018, reports appeared that David Swensen, chief investment officer at Yale University, invested in two crypto-focused venture funds.

Also, this past February, Cambridge Associates, a consultant for pensions and endowments, encouraged institutional investors to look more into cryptocurrencies. “Though these investments entail a high degree of risk, some may very well upend the digital world,” the company, which reportedly works with institutions that collectively manage over USD 300 billion, said back then.

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