At least five more university endowments have invested in cryptocurrency funds, suggesting that the “herd” of institutional investors is finally beginning to place at least a small bet on the nascent asset class.
As first reported by The Information, a cadre of major educational institutions including Harvard University, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dartmouth College, and the University of North Carolina have each invested in at least one cryptocurrency fund through their respective endowments.
Citing an unnamed source familiar with the investments, the publication reported that these five university endowments have invested tens of millions of dollars in these funds, which in turn invest in both physical cryptocurrencies and equity in cryptocurrency companies.
We previously reported that Yale University, which controls the second-largest university endowment next to Harvard, had allocated a portion of its $29.4 billion in assets into two cryptocurrency funds operated by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and Paradigm.
Even with these investments, the six universities that are now said to have invested in crypto funds still have very little exposure to this asset class. Nevertheless, the fact that they are engaging with the market at all could help legitimize the space.
As The Information journalist Jon Victor explained:
“A move by endowments into funds that will directly bet on cryptocurrencies signals a major shift in investor sentiment toward the asset class, in the same way that institutions over the past decade became more willing to invest in private tech companies. Backing from such closely watched institutions could help validate cryptocurrencies, which are still considered too risky by many institutional investors.”
Cryptocurrency investors and analysts such as Mike Novogratz had long predicted that a “herd” of institutional investors would power the next bitcoin bull market. Ari Paul, a cryptocurrency fund manager and a former portfolio manager at the University of Chicago’s endowment, said in April that he believed that a number of institutions were interested in investing in cryptocurrency but were waiting for major names such as Yale to make the first move so that they would have an “excuse” to do so themselves.
Notably, though institutional investors are generally viewed as having a more sober view of cryptoassets than retail investors, a recent survey by Wall Street strategy firm Fundstrat found that institutions that have already invested in cryptocurrency are actually more optimistic about bitcoin’s near-term prospects than retail investors.