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Mena startups raised $267 million in June 2021, pushing Q2 investment to $552 million – Wamda

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Startups in Mena have raised $267 million across 44 deals in June, propelling the second quarter investments to more than $552 million, a 33 per cent increase compared to the first quarter of 2021.

It was tabby’s $50 million debt financing round that pushed the UAE to the top spot in terms of investment value in June, which saw the country raise $137 million in total last month across 14 deals. The UAE’s eyewa ($21 million) and The Luxury Closet ($14 million) both closed a Series B round, while Opontia managed to raise $20 million in a Seed round for its e-commerce enablement platform.

Perhaps one of the most exciting investment deals in June was that of Egypt-based Trella, which attracted $42 million in a debt and equity round led by global shipping giant Maersk. Overall, eight Egyptian startups raised $52 million, ranking the country second in terms of number and value of deals.

Large rounds in the e-commerce sector including those from Floward ($27.5 million) and OpenSooq ($24 million) pushed total investments in the sector to $110.9 million across nine deals, while nine fintech startups raised $71.5 million. The logistics sector raised the third highest amount with $49 million thanks to Trella’s round.  

Of the 44 investments in June, 37 went to male founded startups, and seven to mixed founding teams. Startups led by female founders received no funding.

In the first half of 2021, the 249 investment deals in Mena nearly broke the billion-dollar mark reaching $978 million, of which 44 per cent went to UAE startups, 27 per cent to Saudi Arabia and 12.5 per cent to Egypt.  

It was the fintech sector that attracted the most investment with $306 million, of which $110 million alone was raised by Saudi Arabia-based buy now pay later startup Tamara in its Series A round. E-commerce did well once again with $181 million in investments, led primarily by the growth of B2B e-commerce players, and finally logistics startups raised $103 million, a reflection of the strength and growth of online shopping in the Middle East.

The top 10 biggest rounds in the first six months of 2021 were:

  1. Tamara: $110 million Series A
  2. Pure Harvest: $50 million raised via sukkuk
  3. Tabby: $50 million in debt financing
  4. Anghami: $40 million ahead of its SPAC
  5. Trella: $42 million in debt and equity
  6. Lyve $35 million in Series B
  7. Yellow Door Energy: $31.2 million debt financing
  8. Floward: $27.5 million Kuwait in Series B
  9. Starzplay $25 million in debt financing
  10. Sary: $20.5 million in Series B

Once again, startups founded by men dominated and attracted the vast bulk of investments with 96 per cent in the first six months of 2021, while female-founded startups attracted just 0.9 per cent.

These monthly reports are a collaboration between Wamda and Digital Digest. For startups that do not disclose the amount they have raised, we provide a conservative estimate for their rounds.

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Billionaire Hedge Funder Who Inspired ‘Billions’ Leads Investment To Turn Messari Into ‘Uber For DAOs’ – Forbes

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Point72 Ventures, the venture capital firm of billionaire Steve Cohen, whose unconventional style helped inspire the hit television show Billions, is now in the bitcoin game, having led a $21 million Series A investment in cryptocurrency analytics firm Messari. 

Equally notable is that several of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world are now also backing the firm, including London-based Blockchain.com’s Blockchain Ventures, New York-based Gemini’s Gemini Frontier Fund, Wyoming-based Kraken’s Kraken Ventures and Antigua-based FTX’s sister company, Alameda Capital. The venture capital arm of Coinbase and several other investors also returned to this round after participating in the seed funding.

As the SEC and other regulators increasingly look to crack down on the companies that raised capital using initial coin offerings (ICOs), or otherwise use or trade those tokens, the investment marks a turning point in transparency for the often opaque industry, not by forcing innovators in the space to comply with regulations, but by providing them a clear path to voluntarily disclose data core to investors’ decisions. Messari founder and CEO Ryan Selkis describes the firm as part Big Four auditor and part JPMorgan analyst, with a dash of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Edgar repository of information and “financial filing equivalents.”

“The defaults that many entrepreneurs, and builders in the industry have is to be transparent and cooperative,” says Selkis, 37. “And try to be as helpful and communicative as possible with their communities. The problem is, if you’re a core developer or someone that was early in a project, and you’re sharing certain sensitive information that even looks like it might be financial in nature, and then the SEC comes knocking on your door, it can create a tremendous amount of headaches.”

To help mitigate those concerns, Messari launched in late 2017, and has assembled a team of 35 people helping bring transparency to the crypto industry that frequently finds itself at loggerheads with regulators. Instead of forcing financial disclosures, in 2018 the firm bought New York-based blockchain analysis firm, OnChainFX for an undisclosed amount, and now works directly with the companies that create tokens to understand how the assets were distributed; Kaiko for markets data; Coinmetics for blockchain data sets; Flipside Crypto, Staking Rewards and several other providers for more niche assets; and ingests raw blockchain data by running its own nodes.


Click here to learn more about the Forbes Crypto Asset & Blockchain Advisor.


The data is then repackaged as Messari Pro, which lets individuals track and chart assets, and costs $30 a month; Messari Enterprise which was built over the past two years in consultation with Coinbase and now has “several hundred” exchanges, custodians and investment firms spending about $625 a month; and the membership based disclosure registry, called the Hub, in which analysts work directly with the crypto-assets creators to provide increased transparency about the projects for investors. Forbes receives media access to the Pro services.

Hub participants include the team behind the $10.5 billion Chainlink (LINK) cryptotoken that helps bridge the gap between blockchain transactions and data off a blockchain, the $2.9 billion Maker token (MKR) that powers a decentralized finance (Defi) economy, and is in the process of onboarding the $2.6 billion Axie Infinity (AXS) gaming token. Forbes estimates Messari generated about $4 million revenue last year, and Selkis says the firm is on pace to grow by three to four times by the end of this year. The company has broken even for the past two years, he says,

“At the end of the day, we’re not trying to invent every single pipe and build things from scratch,” says Selkis. “So much as curate where the best in class data lives, and then try to build standards around the different providers in different parts, the information stack. The end result is hopefully being able to pull together the equivalent of an evergreen financial filing for any assets that is available in the markets.”

As part of the investment, Point72 Ventures partner, Adam Carson, joins Messari’s board of directors, along with former Thomson Reuters exec Jeff Clavier, who lead a $4 million seed round in 2019, bringing the total amount raised to $25 million. Selkis says Messari has yet to dip into the seed funding, and until this point has been staying afloat with revenue generated.

With the remaining funds, and the new infusion, Messari plans to triple the size of its engineering and product teams and to expand into new territory that could put it in direct competition with $20 billion Broadridge, a New York firm best known for creating traditional and blockchain software that lets shareholders vote. Specifically, Messari plans to start building governance tools for decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) that rely on automated workflows written directly onto blockchains instead of centralized management. 

As Selkis describes the planned expansion: “It’s Uber for Dao Services. Integrations that make it easier for holders of these tokens to vote on-chain, or signal their support for proposals on-chain or ultimately even contribute their own human capital, their own labor, to participating in and submitting deliverables for some of these decentralized communities.” Selkis says he has no plans to follow his previous employer, CoinDesk’s footprints by expanding beyond data analysis into the more traditional news space. “We have similar functionality baked into our product,” he says. “But no, we’re not going to be running a news desk anytime soon.”

This is Cohen’s first major investment in crypto and puts him in line with a number of hedge fund titans who have recently entered the space, including Paul Tudor Joes and Alan Howard. Ironically, for a guy investing in a financial analytics startup, Cohen’s previous firm SAC Capital in 2013 plead guilty to securities fraud, and paid large fines. Since then, he’s been credited for inspiring the main character in Showtime’s show Billions. In 2020 he bought the New York Mets for $2.4 billion, and more recently as much as 15% of Point72 Capital’s value was reportedly lost as a result of bets against Gamestop. The hit was relative however, and Forbes estimates his wealth is still at about $16 billion.

Though a representative of Point72 Ventures declined to provide comment from Cohen, a May 2021 investor note hints at his imminent investment in crypto. “Steve and the Firm are always looking at ways to innovate and evolve our business,” the note reads. “We are constantly evaluating new market opportunities that support our mission of delivering superior risk-adjusted returns for our investors and offering the greatest opportunities to the industry’s brightest talent. We would be remiss to ignore a now $2 trillion cryptocurrency market.”

The investment appears to be well-timed, as companies like Messari are primed to capitalize on recent comments by numerous SEC regulators. In April crypto-friendly commissioner Hester Pierce, known as “Crypto Mom,” advocated for a so-called safe-harbor period where token issuers could operate for three years before being held accountable to certain requirements. In spite of such industry-friendly proposals, earlier this week newly appointed SEC chair Gary Gensler, doubled down on his predecessor Jay Clayton’s claim that every ICO is a security. If Gensler follows through with much anticipated, and feared, regulatory clarity, such data plays could make crypto financial information almost as valuable as cryptocurrency itself. 

“There’s some [regulatory] comments and solutions that can be put forth,” says Selkis, “that don’t just cripple the pace of innovation within the industry, and instead build off of tools like ours, or Dune Analytics, or any of the other open source data companies that are trying to solve this transparency problem and make it easier for investors and market participants alike to actually understand what’s going on, feel like they’re operating on a level playing field, and demystify some of these projects.”

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$364 Billion Investment Manager Invesco Files For Bitcoin ETF – Bitcoin Magazine

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Independent investment firm Invesco, which currently operates 233 ETFs in the U.S., quietly applied for a Bitcoin ETF on Thursday.

The filing for a Bitcoin Strategy ETF falls under the 40 Act, a notable move that follows public recommendations by SEC Chairman Gary Gensler. Gensler spoke of the potential paths to a Bitcoin ETF earlier this week, at the time stating that he believes the act “provides significant investor protections” and that it will be used to evaluate applications.

Invesco is the first firm to file after the preferences expressed by Gensler. Eric Balchunas, senior ETF analyst for Bloomberg noted on Twitter that it was a “rare 6am filing = rushed it out. Won’t be surprised if we see 5-10 of these by Friday night.”

Noted in bold on the filing is that “the Fund will not invest directly in bitcoin.” The fund’s strategy is to provide exposure to the bitcoin price largely through exchange-traded futures, and to a lesser extent, exchange traded products, and private investment trusts that hold bitcoin.

The ETF would largely provide price exposure to bitcoin futures, Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, as well as several Canadian Bitcoin ETFs.

Invesco’s filing is just one among a series of funds seeking Bitcoin ETF approval in the United States. Notably, Goldman Sachs, Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, and Viridi Funds have all recently filed for or begun to offer investment vehicles tied to Bitcoin ETFs.

A Bitcoin ETF would give a massive boost to adoption, providing Bitcoin price exposure to millions of Americans.

If approved, the Invesco ETF is proposed to become effective 75 days after its filing. 

Image via Invesco website

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IGM posts record profit in second quarter – Investment Executive

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The firm also reported record-high investment fund sales of $1.9 billion for the quarter, more than doubling the $864-million total a year ago. Assets under management and advisement hit a new high of $262 billion, up 5.4% from the previous quarter and 39.2% from June 30, 2020.

“The result reflects record-high second-quarter client inflows across the companies and continued strong investment returns for our clients,” said IGM president and CEO James O’Sullivan in a statement.

The company’s wealth management business, which comprises IG Wealth Management and Investment Planning Counsel (IPC), reported a $134.3-million profit, up 33.6% from the previous year.

IG’s assets under advisement totalled $112.2 billion, up from $93.8 billion a year ago. IPC reported assets under advisement of $31.2 billion compared to $26.6 billion on June 30, 2020.

IG saw record client inflows of $670 million, compared to net outflows of $62 million a year ago.

Wealth management revenue for the quarter totalled $627.6 million, up from $531.1 million in 2020.

Asset manager Mackenzie Investments saw record investment fund sales of $1.7 billion for the quarter, up from $1.1 billion last year. Mutual fund sales accounted for $1.1 billion compared to $376 million in 2020.

Mackenzie reported mutual fund assets under management of $61.7 billion (up from $60.1 billion) and ETF assets totalling $4.9 billion (compared to $3.1 billion a year ago). If investments in ETFs by IGM mutual funds are included, ETF assets totalled $10.6 billion.

Asset management revenue for the quarter totalled $248.3 million, up from $190.8 million in 2020.

In an interview with Investment Executive last month, Mackenzie president and CEO Barry McInerney pegged alternatives and environmental, social and governance funds as growth areas for the firm.

He also talked about how Mackenzie is addressing the challenge of advisors shrinking their product shelves in response to the client-focused reforms.

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