Some of the biggest companies in the world including Microsoft, Alphabet, and even Australia's Commonwealth Bank were involved in more than US$6 billion worth of investment into blockchain, crypto, and web3 startups between September 2021 and June 2022, according to a report from blockchain research company BlockData.
Of the 100 largest corporations by market capitalisation, at least 40 had made significant publicly-known investments into blockchain startups, indicating how embedded crypto became in mainstream markets over the last year.
Unsurprisingly, one of the hottest areas of investment was in non-fungible token (NFT) companies with nearly a third of the 61 firms that received funding from major corporations offering NFT services.
“The popularity of NFTs can be mainly seen as an opportunistic move by corporations looking to capitalise on trends to meet where their customers are transacting,” BlockData said.
“The startups raising capital are enabling commerce in decentralised worlds by developing platforms where users can buy and sell NFTs, including virtual land, clothing, and other branded items.”
Google parent company Alphabet and investment firms BlackRock and Morgan Stanley were each estimated to have been involved in crypto company funding rounds with a combined value of over US$1 billion.
Most companies targeted a handful of specific crypto bets but Samsung was involved in funding rounds for 13 firms over a variety of blockchain use cases.
Australia’s Commonwealth Bank came in at ninth on Blockdata’s global rankings for investment into crypto, apparently involved in US$421 million worth of funding for three crypto companies: Lygon, Xpansiv, and Gemini.
Importantly, the BlockData report doesn’t have exact breakdowns of how much each publicly-traded company directly invested – rather it looked at the total value of funding rounds companies participated in.
BlockData’s report, while somewhat misleading in its presentation of total investment dollars, shows how embedded mainstream companies became in crypto during the recent bull run.
Some of the world's biggest companies are invested in crypto and blockchain technology. Image: BlockData
CommBank, for example, was one of at least six other investors that participated in a US$400 million funding round for cryptocurrency platform Gemini in late 2021, and it contributed to the $12.7 million raised by Lygon in conjunction with two other major banks, ANZ and Westpac.
CommBank had bought into Gemini as part of its own custodial crypto play that was announced last year.
But for all the investment and integration with crypto companies, the major market downturn rocked the crypto world and put big corporations’ projects on pause.
CommBank was planning to integrate the Gemini platform into its app and let customers buy, sell, and hold crypto – but the crypto crash spooked CommBank into pausing the trial program in May.
A month later, Gemini said it was laying off 10 per cent of its staff with another seven per cent being shown the door in July.
Bitcoin, the crypto ecosystem’s benchmark, has slowly crawled back up from its June dip below the US$20,000 mark but crypto companies continue to feel the pain.
Even Tesla, which had made a nearly $2 billion Bitcoin purchase, announced last month that it had dumped a significant amount of its holdings just before the downturn.
Last week, Singapore-based Crypto.com – which became a major sponsor of the AFL this season – told staff it would make additional cuts to its workforce after 260 people lost their jobs in June.