U.S. rapper Nasir Jones (better known by his stage name, Nas) is among the fortunate few to have made early investments in Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange expected to reach over $100 billion in valuation when its COIN stock lists on Wednesday.
Jones’ investment firm, QueensBridge Venture Partners, got into Coinbase’s Series B round back in 2013 when it raised $25 million. Around that time Coinbase was valued at about $143 million, according to PitchBook.
The Nas news shows just how far Coinbase’s public listing will ripple across the world of venture capital, with everyone from Wall Street veterans to A-list celebrities all standing to win big when the chips fall this week.
QueensBridge, which was also a backer of Robinhood in 2013 and later Lyft and Dropbox, makes early-stage investments of between $100,000 and $500,000, according to Jones’ QueensBridge co-founder Anthony Saleh.
Dividing the firm’s $100,000–$500,000 stake by the share price at the time of Coinbase’s Series B ($1.00676) points to QueensBridge owning around 99,329 shares on the low end or 496,642 on the high end, according to an analysis by CoinDesk.
At the price that Coinbase shares last traded on private secondary markets – $350 per share – Jones’ firm would have a pot of somewhere between $34.76 million and $173.8 million. If Coinbase shares trade at investment bank DA Davidson’s new price target of $440, QueensBridge could see the value of its Coinbase stake rise to $43.7 million and $218.5 million, respectively.
Saleh and Jones did not return requests for comment. Coinbase declined to comment.
But a source familiar with the matter confirmed QueensBridge remains on the Coinbase cap table.
The source added that Jones is a friend of Ben Horowitz, co-founder of Silicon Valley venture giant Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), one of Coinbase’s main backers, who may have told the musician the then-fledgling bitcoin exchange was a promising investment. QueensBridge had raised a $10 million fund in 2012, according to “A-List Angels” author Zack O’Malley Greenburg.
In addition to the well-picked startups QueensBridge backed between 2012 and 2014, Jones and Co. reportedly bagged around $40 million in 2018 after Amazon acquired the doorbell company Ring.
As well as the Menlo Park mafia of close-knit crypto VCs, Coinbase pulled in some interesting early investors back in the day, including the likes of the endowment fund of Duke University (Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam’s alma mater) and angels like former Reuters CEO Tom Glocer and former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit.
Saleh, now a general partner at VC firm WndrCo, let his feelings about the upcoming Coinbase listing be known in a recent tweet.
Nate DiCamillo contributed reporting.