DEC 16, 2023
Abu Dhabi’s Venom Ventures Fund faces market challenges
A report by The Block on Friday suggests that Abu Dhabi’s ambitious Venom Ventures Fund, heralded earlier this year with promises of $1 billion investment in Web3 startups, is facing challenges in following through on its mission.
What is Venom?
Venom is a collaboration between the Venom Foundation and Iceberg Capital, an alternative asset management company also based in Abu Dhabi. The venture was conceived by Peter Knez, former Co-Chief Investment Officer of BlackRock’s fixed income division and Mustafa Kheriba, Iceberg’s Executive Chairman.
In a tweet thread published back in August, the firm described the fund as “old money meets new, the perfect platform for leading the next iteration of blockchain development.” The fund outlined that its approach incorporated venture capital, the offering of a project incubator and a specialist advisory service.
Knez has set out lofty ambitions for the fund, stating:
“The vision is to drive billions of users into our layer one Blockchain technology by being institutional quality and regulated, and by being such we can actually partner with the government and institutions to help them develop framework for stable coins, for cross-border payment system for tokenization of real world assets and thereby help web2 businesses and citizens move to web3.”
At the time of its announcement, Venom Ventures boasted a $20 million investment in Nümi Metaverse and a $5 million strategic investment in Layer 1 blockchain Everscale.
Further details on deals struck since January have been scarce, although the fund was reported back in August to have been involved in a blockchain-based carbon credits project, backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE).
According to The Block, there has been an unexpected silence from the venture as its first year in business comes to a close, despite the initial buzz in the crypto community that greeted the launch of the fund.
Venom Ventures positioned itself to cover the entire venture spectrum, from seed to late-stage investments, even offering grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000. However, a closer look reveals a stark contrast between the fund’s ambitious promises and its current progress. The fund’s website lacks a portfolio section, displaying only a “coming soon” notice.
Blockchain mainnet yet to launch
The venture fund has yet to launch its Venom blockchain mainnet, according to Christopher Louis Tsu, CEO of the Venom Foundation. The lack of updates and communication has raised concerns among industry observers about the fund’s overall progress and its ability to fulfill its investment commitments.
The broader context of the crypto market adds to the challenges faced by Venom Ventures. Q4 2023 is expected to see a significant drop in venture funding for Web3, down to approximately $2.7 billion from the peak of $13.5 billion in Q1 2022. Market events have left VCs cautious, with notable instances of significant investments being marked down to zero.
Amidst these challenges, crypto startups have turned to the Middle East for capital. However, some industry insiders caution that the perceived ease of accessing capital in the Middle East might be a mirage. With that, it remains to be seen whether the fund can revive its initial momentum and deliver on its promise to fuel the growth of Web3 startups in the ever-evolving crypto landscape.