Fred Ehrsam, left, and Matt Huang. Photo by Ethan Pines
Nov. 16, 2021 12:09 PM PST

As a co-founder of Coinbase, Fred Ehrsam tried to raise money for the cryptocurrency-exchange startup from Sequoia Capital, Silicon Valley’s premier venture capital firm. The firm turned him down twice, he told The Information in an interview, but Coinbase went on to be worth $100 billion as a public company.

After Ehrsam left Coinbase in 2017, then-Sequoia partner Matt Huang—who was part of the investment team that had previously turned down Coinbase—invited him to pitch another startup idea to the firm involving blockchain technology, a decentralized computing platform owned by users, powering a virtual reality metaverse. That idea didn’t lead to an investment either, but the pair later exchanged 60 emails brainstorming potential business ideas related to crypto before deciding to launch their own VC firm, Paradigm, in 2018, when cryptocurrency prices were sagging.

Just three years later, Paradigm is considered the top VC firm exclusively focused on crypto, which is among the hottest private investment categories. On Monday, Paradigm announced an eye-popping new $2.5 billion fund, the largest of its kind, seizing a mantle recently worn by Andreessen Horowitz, a more traditional tech investment firm that made the first big VC bets on crypto, including Coinbase in 2013. In June, Andreessen Horowitz made a splash by raising a $2.2 billion fund dedicated to crypto deals.

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