Spartan Capital is one of the most aggressive venture capitals in the crypto land as its name after the Spartan Warriors. And in this article, we will walk you through Spartan, which covers:
- Spartan Overview.
- The portfolio analysis.
- The performance of Spartan.
- The investment thesis.
Let’s find out how Spartan Group and its venture fund receive reputation in crypto.
Spartan Capital Overview
Spartan Group is a crypto-focused firm operating in two main business segments:
- Spartan Advisory is the advisory arm of Spartan Group that focuses on companies facilitating the world with blockchain and digitalization technology. The advisory company provides companies as customers with financial consulting and advisory services. As the number of new crypto projects is growing at a fast pace, the demand for advisory and consulting services is also increasing at the same time.
- Spartan Capital is the venture arm of Spartan Group looking for projects with ideas to invest in. The venture capital follows the research-driven approach to look for suitable projects that fit the market and have upside potential. In addition, the Spartan team can estimate the fundamental valuation of the project so as to manage the risks for the best returns.
In the first half of 2021, Spartan Group raised $50M in the investment rounds, focusing on investing in DeFi projects in the early stages. And the company is building up a portfolio that manages over $200M in crypto assets in various funds.
The Spartan Capital team includes seniors who have solid backgrounds in finance and venture investments in Asia. As the Spartan team is made up of two main strategic teams: Spartan Advisory and Spartan Capital.
However, for retail investors’ sake, we will mainly focus on Spartan Capital since Spartan Advisory often works with enterprises or companies.
Melody is the co-founder and partner of Spartan Advisory who is Chinese. She has experience in many investment positions in various firms such as Trilogy Ventures, MOX/SOSV, Goldman Sachs, etc.
Casper is the co-founder and partner of Spartan Advisory who has been working in Asia since 2004. He has over 10 years of experience in investment banking before shifting to the blockchain and DeFi space. Before working as a full-time investor, he was a military officer in Denmark.
Kelvin is the co-founder & partner of Spartan Capital who has over 20 years of experience in asset management and investments across Asia. He used to work at the same place with his colleague Melody He at Goldman Sachs.
Joining Spartan Capital in 2018, Jason is the head of Research and General Partner of the company who is the most popular member of the team on Twitter. He had an impressive investment performance since he grew a $10M fund to a $300M one in 2018-2021.
He took up blockchain technology and crypto assets while being a student at university. At that time, The Blockcrunch Podcast was started by him to serve the crypto community.
On Twitter, Jason often talks about the crypto market and shares his insightful thoughts with the community. Since he’s responsible for the decision-making in Spartan Capital, we recommend following him for valuable news.
About Spartan Portfolio
Spartan Capital has been operating in crypto since the aftermath of Bitcoin 2017 - 2018 bubbles. However, the Spartan team members have individually skinned in the crypto market in the early days. 67 is the official number of investments of the Spartan portfolio. The number shows the size and position of the capital in crypto since other venture capitals also have the relatively same number of investments.
As shown in the portfolio, Spartan Capital invested in various crypto sectors across ecosystems. Infrastructure, DEX, Asset Management, Derivatives, NFT/Gaming, etc are invested in by the capital. For further comprehension, let’s zoom in on each project in the portfolio to understand Spartan Capital’s investment thesis.
- LayerZero raised $6.3M in a Series A funding round led by major venture capital Binance Labs and Multicoin Capital with Delphi Digital, Defiance, Spartan Capital,... summing up to $8.3M in total investment value in September 2021. The LayerZero team aims to build an omnichain protocol connecting all decentralized applications across various blockchain platforms via middle chains running with Ultra Light Node.
- Acala Network, a Polkadot-based parachain, raised $7M via an agreement for future tokens led by Pantera Capital with other venture capitals, including Spartan Capital, ParaFi Capital,... It is a layer-1 smart contract for decentralized finance applications, acting as a liquidity center of Polkadot.
- Polkadot is the favorite ecosystem of Spartan Capital since the venture capital has invested in a parachain on top of this smart contract blockchain. In addition to the Acala investment deal, Spartan Capital invested $5.5 with other investors in Manta Network, a privacy layer of Polkadot, in a funding round in October 2021. Therefore, we can conclude Spartan Group made a huge bet on the future of the Polkadot blockchain.
- Secret Network raised $11.5M in a stake of SCRT tokens in an investment round led by Arrington Capital and Blocktower Capital with other VCs, including Spartan Capita in May 2021. The Secret Network team aims to use the fund for future app development to enhance the privacy feature of the network.
⇒ In Spartan Capital’s portfolio, there’s only Polkadot which is the only blockchain platform invested in (L2 blockchains excluded). Following Polkadot, Acala Network was incubated by Spartan Capital, showing attention to the future of the ecosystem.
Other than Polkadot and its ecosystem, Spartan Capital bet on other infrastructure projects that solve current blockchain challenges. Layer 2 and node infrastructure projects, Arbitrum, Secret Network, and LayerZero were supported by this research-driven venture capital.
- Tranchess, a DeFi protocol, concluded a $1.5M investment in a seed round led by Three Arrow Capital and Spartan Group, the round also includes Binance Labs and IMO Ventures. The protocol created a token model consisting of Chess-themed tokens: QUEEN, BISHOP, and ROOK to manage the deposited crypto assets and return yields to users.
- Alpha Finance Labs has been being invested in by Spartan Group, Multicoin Capital, and DeFiance Capital to support the team with funds and support to build cross-chain DeFi products since October 2020.
⇒ Spartan Capital only invested in asset management projects in two major ecosystems (Ethereum and BSC). Nevertheless, the Tranchess and Alpha Finance investments of the venture capital were leading its ecosystem. At the writing time, Alpha Finance and Tranchess manage $1.9B and $1.8B respectively ATH TVL.
- MakerDAO has Spartan Group and other biggest venture capitals as investors who hold MKR tokens through various funding rounds.
- As one of the MKR holders, Spartan can participate in the on-chain governance, which decides the future of the protocol and the DAI Credit system.
- DAI has been the decentralized stablecoin that owns the most market cap in crypto land. Head of Spartan Capital Jason Choi has tweeted about the protocol in 2019, betting on the future of this crypto-pegged stablecoin DAI.
- Benqi, a liquidity market on Avalanche, concluded a $6M investment in a private funding round in April 2021 led by Ascensive Assets and other leading venture capitals (Dragonfly Capital, Arrington XRP, Spartan Group, and Mechanism Capital). As the Avalanche snowball rolled at the second half of 2021 and at the beginning of 2022, Benqui was emerging to be the Avalanche-focused DeFi project that has the largest TVL number (Aaave excluded).
- Notional Finance closed a $10M Series A investment led by Pantera, ParaFi Capital, Spartan Group, Nascent, and other venture capitals in May 2021 after successfully raising funds from Coinbase Ventures in a seed round. The platform delivers fixed lending rates on stablecoins on top of the Ethereum blockchain, having nearly $1B ATH TVL.
- BETA had Spartan Group, ParaFi Capital, Multicoin Capital, DeFiance Capita, and Delphi Digital as strategic investors in July 2021 to build a next-gen DeFi protocol focusing on lending/borrowing market on top of the Ethereum blockchain and BSC. The ATH TVL of Beta Finance is over $200M which is a humble number inside the two major ecosystems in 2021.
- Alchemix, a lending protocol, raised $3.1M in a strategic funding round led by Spartan Capital with support from other investors, including Delphi Ventures, Nascent, CMS Holdings, etc in March 2021. The protocol fuses yield generation with a lending platform for more income.
⇒ Most lending/yield-generating projects in Spartan Capital’s portfolio are running on Ethereum. Since those investments occurred in 2019 - 2021, the venture capital believes their potential of them as well as Ethereum in the long term. Benqi is the successful investment of Spartan Capital outside Ethereum as the project’s TVL skyrocketed in coherence with the emerging Avalanche ecosystem in late 2021.
- DinoSwap, a DEX on Polygon, raised $4.7M from MATIC Founder and top venture capitals, including Hashed, Spartan Group in July 2021. It is evaluated by those venture capitals to be the PancakeSwap of Polygon, expressing the ambition of this Polygon-based DEX.
- HaloDAO, a DeFi stablecoin platform, concluded a $3.5M investment from Genesis Block Ventures, Spartan Group, and Parataxis in May 2021 in a seed round. The model of HaloDAO is somewhat similar to MakerDAO with DAI tokens.
- ApWine raised $1M in a seed round led by major venture capitals including Spartan Group, DeFi Alliance, Delphi Ventures, etc in March 2021. The Apwine team aims to build a yield tokenization platform since they detect the rising number of new tokens in crypto and everybody can make his own token at hand.
⇒ Spartan Group only invested in a few pure DEXs which focus on swapping/trading tokens on the blockchain. Other investments from Spartan Capital target DeFi projects like Aggregator in the following section.
- Coin98 concluded an $11.25M investment in a strategic funding round led by Hashed and Spartan Group with other venture capitals and investors in Jun 2021. The company has built Coin98 Super App as a DeFi Gateway that can fulfill the mass demand of crypto users by integrating numerous features. In August 2021, Coin98 reported having over 200,000 active users monthly using the products.
- Zapper raised $15M in a Series A funding round led by Framework Ventures and other investors (Spartan Group, DeFiance Capital, ParaFi Capital, Coinbase Ventures,...) in May 2021. The crypto project builds the aggregator Dapp acting as a DeFi app store.
- 1Inch was invested $12M in a funding round led by Pantera Capital and other participants, including ParaFi Capita, Spartan Capital, etc in Dec 2020. As history says, the investment turned out to be a huge success for Spartan Group which participated just in time before the 2021 bull-run.
⇒ Spartan Capital understands that aggregator is inevitable in crypto since they are the frontier of the largest user base. Forking a DEX is easy now a day but aggregating all the DEXs is a difficult mission.
Spartan Capital look for competent teams who are able to handle this winner-takes-it-all aggregator category. Coin98 Super App and Zapper are notable projects that built up a large userbase and community surrounding their products.
- dYdX, a derivatives market, raised $10M in a Series B round led by 3AC, DeFiance Capital, Hashed, and Spartan Capital as investors in January 2021. Later, it raised $65M from Paradigm, and other venture capitals to expand beyond Ethereum in a Series C. The trading platform previously raised $10M in a Series A round led by a16z and Polychain capital. With triple staggering investment deals from top VCs, dYdX is now leading the derivatives market in terms of market cap and revenue.
⇒ Participating only in the Series B round of dYdX, Spartan Capital jumped in the right market time as it needs a derivatives market to boost up the overall liquidity of the ecosystem. On Ethereum, there are other derivatives markets/products but dYdX is leading now with the highest revenue in the crypto decentralized derivatives market.
- Burnt Finance raised a total of $11M in two investment rounds (seed round and Series A round) in which Spartan Capital participated as an investor.
- Merit Circle closed a $4.5M investment deal from reputable venture capitals in crypto, including DeFiance Capital, Mechanism Capital, Spartan Group, Yield Guild Games, etc in October 2021. The platform’s target is to build a Play-to-Earn NFT game on top of blockchain and also form a DAO consisting of those leading venture capitals.
- Cradles is an MMORPG game running on blockchain that raised $1.2M in a seed round in October 2021 led by reputable VCs, including Spartan Group, Houbi Ventures, Animoca Brands, etc.
⇒ Unlike other biggest venture capitals, Spartan Group prefers investing in seed rounds of most NFT/Gaming projects to multiply their investments. The venture capital also invested in projects implemented with DAO as the DAO feature will grant the community to govern the protocol.
- ApeBoard, facilitating investing in crypto for users, raised $1.2M in a strategic fundraise led by Spartan Capita, DeFiance Capital, LongHash Ventures, and joined other investors. The platform now covers over 100 protocols across blockchain platforms.
- Solstarter, an IDO platform on Solana, was in the Spartan Capital investment portfolio as it was incubated by the venture capital. The IDO platform has been operating for a while in the Solana summer as well as the later time. However, on Solana, there are other IDO platforms competing with each other in this race since the project incubator helps the community involved in the development of the project.
- Tabtrader, a trading aggregator platform, raised $5.8M in a Series A round led by BitMEX Ventures and joined Hashkey Capital, Spartan Capital, etc in November 2021. The platform announced to have over 400k active users and the team will aggregate more other DEXs and liquidity centers such as Solana-based DEXs: Orca, Raydim, Serum, etc.
- Nayms closed a $6M investment led by Coinbase Ventures, Spartan Capital, and joined other venture capitals and angel investors in June 2021. In addition to the $6M investment, the platform previously raised $2M in January 2021 to speed up the crypto market and insurance market with the NAYM token.
⇒ As described above, Spartan Capital is trying to diversify the portfolio with the market via multiple investments as a participant, not as the lead. Since nobody can time the market right and what’s meta is going to gain traction. Spartan Capital is always ready for any emerging trends with the every-category portfolio.
In which ecosystem Capital Spartan invested?
Ethereum and Polkadot
Spartan Capital has been around in the crypto market since the bearish phase of 2018 - 2020. At that time, Ethereum was the king of the blockchain platforms as almost every decentralized application was running on this PoW blockchain platform.
However, in the Ethereum blockchain there are some controversial drawbacks affecting the crypto users’ experience. Therefore, to reduce the risk, Spartan Capital is shifting step-by-step to other promising blockchain platforms (Polkadot is a notable example).
Furthermore, Spartan Capital can not be compared to other crypto venture giants such as a16z or Multicoin Capital since they are crypto investor veterans and now managing billions of dollars in crypto assets. As a result, it’s difficult for Spartan Group to size-position their resources and support too many crypto projects.
The company’s investments are driven by research from experienced researchers and analytics but they have just started for a few years. Therefore, Spartan Group will have the motivation to think out of the box to be another crypto venture giant.
Should we follow Spartan’s portfolio?
Spartan has been focusing on diversifying the portfolio with massive investments, and let’s see the performance of those project tokens that were invested in by the Spartan Capital fund (ATH prices with prices at the beginning of 2021) as follows:
- The Graph( GRT): 1,000%
- Polkadot (DOT): 570%
- Alpha Finance (ALPHA): 1,440%
- Tranchess (CHESS): 1,250%
- Benqi (QI): 800%
- MakerDAO (MKR): 900%
- dYdX (DYDX): 12,900%
Spartan Capital often invests in the seed round of crypto projects since they have the confidence in supporting new startups from the beginning with the advisory arm.
Since the venture capital has limited human and financial resources, they are now recruiting new members to the team for future expansion. You can refer the job description right here.
Spartan Investment Thesis
Spartan Group consists of two arms: Advisory and Capital, allowing invested projects to be supported in every aspect. As mentioned, the portfolio of the venture arm includes over 60 crypto projects spanning across categories. Let’s explore the general and common leads that Spartan Capital might use to consider the investment.
- In Seed Round: Spartan Capital has reasonably bet on over 10 projects by investing in them in very early stages (seed for fundraising). However, those bets occurred in 2021 and now they need more time to show the possible outcome of the investments.
- Research-Driven Thesis: Jason Choi is the head of Spartan Capital research team. If you follow him on Twitter, you will see numerous Tweetstorm as well as thoughts on crypto from him. He also started Blockcrunch to serve the crypto community through the podcast.
- Seldom lead but only lead huge potential: It’s understandable that Spartan Capital is not as big as other crypto venture giants, but the company will step forward as a lead investor when it comes to fitting the thesis.
- Fund but also advisory: Spartan Group can support crypto projects with money and practical advice. The advisory team from various backgrounds provides not only tech solutions but also regulatory issues and strategic developments. The advisory arm enables invested projects for longer development plans.
Spartan in 2022
If Spartan Capital is the Spartan Group venture arm, Jason Choi will be the brain of Spartan Capital. As mentioned above, Jason Choi is a core member of the Spartan Capital since he has taken up crypto in the early days. At the beginning of 2022, he expressed his 2022 predictions via a tweet on Twitter. Let’s recap what he said through follow bullets:
- CeDeFi will be the next stage of Centralized Finance and Decentralized Finance.
- Derivatives Liquidity Staking in DeFi will expand up to 5x in the following years.
- Ethereum will surpass Bitcoin in terms of market capitalization in 2022 and lead the crypto market.
- Cross-chain bridge among L1 and L2 blockchains will cover most daily transactions/volume in the crypto market, surpassing centralized exchanges in the next 3 years.
In 2022 and so on, Spartan Capital will not limit the portfolio with Ethereum, shown by the Spartan Capital fund redirecting to other crypto platforms.
We’ve been through the detailed information and some insights about Spartan, and then we can conclude some quick takes for readers’ convenience.
- Spartan Group = Spartan Advisory + Spartan Capital, the formula of the two arms can back up the fundamental development of the invested projects.
- Spartan Group has been operating in crypto for a few years now but the team members participated in crypto in the dawn of Bitcoin. Especially, Jason Choi is the soul of Spartan Capital as he handles most investments of this venture capital.
- Spartan Capital has a strong investment thesis described via the podcast and posts on social media of the head researcher. The crypto fund loves investing in the seed round as the team distributes the risk to many separate crypto projects across the crypto-verse.
- Spartan plays big since it often invests a vast amount of money and support in practical and tech-backed ideas.
And that is all you need to know about Spartan Group and its venture arm. I hope you’ve gained the overview, and our insights will be helpful to you. There will be more articles for other VCs. Stay tuned!