Adrian Cheng, CEO of Hong Kong real estate giant New World Development, has added crypto custody provider Hex Trust and blockchain infrastructure developer ConsenSys to his investment portfolio, increasing his bets on what could be the future of the internet–commonly referred to now as Web3.
“Both Hex Trust and ConsenSys are platforms that provide wholistic solutions and cater to people’s needs in the digital era,” Cheng said in a written response to Forbes. “ConsenSys has been a pioneer in creating the foundational software for the next wave of the internet Web3, and Hex Trust can meet compliance and regulatory standards in this digital era.”
Cheng announced on Wednesday that he had taken part in the $88 million funding round of Hong Kong-based crypto custodian Hex Trust, which says it already has more than 200 institutional clients and over $5 billion in digital assets under management.
Hex Trust said the capital injection was led by local blockchain gaming company Animoca Brands and Liberty City Ventures, and drew participation from investors including blockchain firms Ripple and Terra, as well as Primavera Venture Partners and Morgan Creek, among others.
The proceeds boosted Hex Trust’s valuation 10-fold in a year to $300 million, according to the crypto firm. The fresh capital will be used to expand its business in Europe and the Middle East, and obtain more licenses in addition to regulatory approvals in Hong Kong and Singapore. It will also be used to enhance the company’s offerings, such as financing and structured solutions.
Cheng has also invested in blockchain technology firm ConsenSys through his venture capital firm C Ventures. ConsenSys announced on Tuesday that it had raised $450 million in a fundraising led by ParaFi Capital that also included Microsoft, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Singapore state-owned investment firm Temasek and others. The financing round valued ConsenSys at $7 billion, more than doubling the figure since November.
Established by Ethereum cofounder Joseph Lubin, ConsenSys offers products that help developers and enterprises build applications on one of the world’s most popular blockchains. The company is seen by many in the crypto community as one of the forces that drive the development of Web3, a term that is used to describe the next generation of the internet.
ConsenSys said it will convert all the proceeds into ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency after bitcoin, in its treasury that also holds stablecoins and other digital tokens. The capital will also be used to support the expansion of its product MetaMask, a crypto wallet that the company said is supporting more than 30 million monthly active users.
Web3 refers to the next phase of the internet’s evolution, a decentralized web that incorporates crypto and blockchain technologies. It has become a buzzword among investors over the past year, with the crypto space drawing more than $21 billion worth of venture investments in 2021, according to company information provider Crunchbase.
Cheng, the son of Hong Kong billionaire Henry Cheng Kar-shun, is increasingly backing Web3 ventures that appeal to future generations of consumers. “The current world is now focusing on Gen Z–the young people who are born after the computer era,” he said. “Investing in Web3 is the way to empower the next generation…If people believe in the future, believe in the next generation, then they should understand them, speak the same language as they do–investing in Web3 is just like that.”
In December, Cheng bought a plot of digital land on the Sandbox, a blockchain gaming platform that allows players to build a virtual world and monetize in-game items. The property tycoon said he was building a virtual community in the game that features Hong Kong startups on the investment portfolio of C Ventures, his investment firm that targets the millennials and Gen Z.
Last year, C Ventures also invested in RTFKT Studios, a Los Angeles non-fungible token (NFT) platform for virtual sneakers and collectibles. It also committed its capital to Matrixport, a Singapore-based crypto financial services company.
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