Mysten Labs CEO and co-founder Evan Cheng is raising money for a venture capital fund focused on web3 investments, according to four people familiar with the matter.
Cheng is in the early stages of pitching the fund to limited partners and is seeking to secure more than $100 million, said two of the people. A spokesperson for Cheng declined to comment.
Sui, Mysten Labs' Layer 1 blockchain, has garnered significant interest from venture investors and raised a total of $336 million since late 2021, according to Crunchbase data. Yet it still hasn't launched and remains in a testnet phase.
The new fund will not distract Cheng from day-to-day operations at Mysten, said a source familiar with the raise, who added that he will continue to operate as Mysten's CEO. Cheng is currently in conversations with both potential general partners and limited partners for the fund, the source added.
An uphill battle
The raise is still very much in the early stages and the environment for crypto venture investing has changed dramatically in recent months as a result of a challenging macro conditions, increased regulatory scrutiny and a number prominent industry collapses.
But market fluctuations haven't deterred venture investors in crypto from seeking fresh capital. Seven Seven Six, which has made several crypto and NFT investments, is looking to raise $776 million across two funds, while HashKey Capital recently closed a $500 million fund.
In addition to running his crypto unicorn, Cheng has also been investing as an angel, backing startups such as Verida and Reverie Labs, according to data from Crunchbase. He's wanted to raise a fund for some time, said one of the sources.
Mysten Labs itself has also made seven balance sheet investments in companies such as Ethos and Scale3 Labs, Crunchbase data show. But Cheng's new fund should not be mistaken as an ecosystem fund for Sui, according to two of the sources familiar with the raise. It will have a broad remit to make web3 investments, which could include projects within the Sui ecosystem, though not exclusively.
Prior to joining Mysten, Cheng spent over a decade at Apple and worked as head of research and development at Meta’s crypto wallet Novi until September last year. All five of Mysten’s founders worked on Meta’s crypto initiatives.
The Sui blockchain leverages the Move programming language, which was developed at Meta, and uses novel data structures to create a fast and low-cost blockchain. The Move language is also being leveraged by Aptos, another buzzy Layer 1 blockchain founded by former Meta executives. Both chains are competing for market share in an already crowded market for established blockchains such as Ethereum, Solana and Avalanche.
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