Bill Barhydt and Abra have major plans to disrupt the crypto space.
The Silicon Valley-based trading platform, which Barhydt founded in 2015, raised $55 million in Series C funding last year at a $500 million valuation. Retail investors can use Abra to trade over 100 different tokens and earn high yield on certain crypto-assets – which led to Forbes describing the company as the “Robinhood of cryptocurrency“.
But for Baryhdt, those comparisons aren’t quite accurate.
“On the retail side, that description’s fine,” Abra’s chief executive told Insider in a recent interview. “But the institutional investing side of our business is growing so quickly, and we’re really excited about it.”
Insider spoke to Barhydt about his own career trajectory, the recent launch of Abra’s new asset management strategy, and the five funds it’s offering to high- net-worth individuals.
Barhydt’s own career took him from NASA in the 1980s to Goldman Sachs and the web browser provider Netscape in the 1990s. In 2012, he delivered the first-ever TED talk on bitcoin – when the token was trading at just $5.
“Over the last decade, I’ve been knee-deep in crypto – first it was bitcoin, and then other tokens,” Baryhdt said. “I started Abra seven years ago, and we’ve built up a crypto banking service and a wealth management program.”
Abra differs from competitors like Binance and Coinbase because it primarily caters to high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth investors looking to invest at least $250,000 in the crypto space. Baryhdt said Abra’s total number of customers has quadrupled in size over the past year.
“Our clients are all over the map,” he said. “Some are knee-deep in crypto and have really done their homework about the space.”
“But others are complete newbies looking for exposure to the asset class,” Barhydt added. “Institutional investors, family offices, and venture capitalists are all flocking to crypto.”
In early April, Abra specifically targeted those sorts of clients with the launch of Abra Capital Management. The company’s new asset management arm offers wealthier investors exposure to five different crypto funds.
“Most exchanges and crypto platforms are limited in the solutions they can offer,” Barhydt said as Abra Capital Management launched. “Abra Capital Management was created to fill this gap and help high net worth investors easily and efficiently invest in structured vehicles across the entire digital asset landscape.”
Wealthier investors are able to access five Abra Capital Management crypto funds. Three are designed to generate yield on bitcoin, ethereum, and stablecoins.
These three funds are designed to mirror the performance of Abra Earn, which offers retail investors interest on prominent crypto tokens.
“Abra Earn’s very popular, but it’s not optimal from a tax perspective for institutional investors or high-net-worth individuals,” Barhydt said. “So instead, it makes sense to offer that product in a fund format.”
Barhydt himself is very bullish on ethereum. He said he believes the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization could embark on a 10x run to hit a price level of $40,000 in a year’s time.
“I think ethereum’s ripe for explosion – it has even more short-term upside than bitcoin,” Barhydt said. “It’s got so many use cases in fields like NFTs, decentralized finance, and gaming.”
Another Abra Capital Management fund offers investors exposure to early token projects. Altcoins like solana and polkadot soared last year, eating into bitcoin’s overall market share.
“The most important thing driving the success of these projects is the underlying technology and the strength of their network,” Barhydt said. “We dig into what problems the early tokens are trying to solve, and how they stack up against their competitors.”
Lastly, Abra’s seed fund invests in early-stage crypto startups.
“One of the great opportunities we have is that we get to see projects very, very early,” Barhydt said. “It makes sense to take positions in some of the companies we’re really excited about – it’s all about being good stewards of the space.”
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