University of Michigan to Increase its Investment in Million Dollar Crypto Fund

Omar Faridi

The prestigious University of Michigan’s financial endowment fund has joined a growing number of institutional investors that have made substantial investments in the nascent digital asset market.

Similar to how many other new investors gain exposure to the cryptoasset market, the University of Michigan’s crypto-related endowment is backed by giant venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz. Although not as large as Yale’s $25.4 billion endowment (another top-ranked university fund that invested in Andreessen Horowitz’s $300 million crypto fund), University of Michigan’s $11.9 billion endowment consists of thousands of individual contributions.

Andreessen Horowitz Manages Crypto Separately From Other Investments

Proceeds earned from the multi-billion dollar endowment are used to pay for various university-related expenses such as grants and scholarships, professorships, and other educational initiatives. As mentioned in an “item for information” document posted on University of Michigan’s official website (on February 21st), the higher education institution’s endowment will increase its investment in a cryptocurrency venture fund.

In June 2018, the University of Michigan had invested $3 million in a crypto network fund called CNK Fund I, L.P.. This fund focuses on “technology companies across the spectrum of seed, venture, and growth stage opportunities.” Moreover, Andreessen Horowitz (or a16z) reportedly decided to allocate a significant portion of its investments to a cryptocurrency-focused fund because the VC firm believes digital assets have “become an important area of innovation and entrepreneurship that warrants focused attention.”

As explained in University of Michigan’s document: 

As opportunities related to cryptonetworks transition from being undefined to becoming more visible and sharply defined, the need for a separate thematic fund may recede.

US Pension Funds Participate In $40 Million Crypto Fund 

However, the announcement noted that the current regulatory framework for cryptocurrency-related projects is “potentially more cumbersome” than the more traditional types of IT investment funds. At present, the crypto space is categorized as a “distinct type of technology” by developers, funding sources, and businesses, the University of Michigan’s notice stated. This is why Andreessen Horowitz is managing its crypto-related investments through a separate fund (for now).

On February 12th, Morgan Creek Digital Assets announced that it had managed to secure $40 million for a new VC fund focused on crypto and blockchain-related initiatives. For the first time, several notable American public sector pensions participated in Morgan Creek’s Blockchain Opportunities Fund. They included funds invested by the FairFax County, Virginia Police Officer’s Retirement System, and the Employees’ Retirement System for government employees.

Opera Launches Blockchain, Cryptocurrency-Ready Browser for iOS

Opera Ltd., the company behind the Opera browser, has recently launched a new blockchain and cryptocurrency-ready browser for iOS, following the company’s addition of a built-in cryptocurrency wallet to its Android and PC browsers.

According to a press release shared with CryptoGlobe, the company’s Opera Touch browser for iOS features “crypto wallet integration and Web 3 support,” meaning users can interact with blockchain-based applications through it, as if they were using an extension like MetaMask. The company hinted at the move in March of this year.

The company touts it now offers browsers supporting blockchain-based applications and with a built-in cryptocurrency wallet in various operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, allowing users to “seamlessly interact with the next generation of Web 3 applications.”

Currently, the browser only supports ERC-20 tokens, stablecoins, and non-fungible tokens, although the company has revealed earlier this year it’s looking to add support for TRON and multiple other blockchains within a  year.

Charles Hamel, Opera’s head of crypto, stated:

We believe that all modern browsers should integrate a crypto wallet. This will enable new business models to emerge on the web. Opera is the first browser to make using crypto on the Web seamless and easy. Following a strong demand from the crypto-community, we are now making this experience available on iOS.

In the press release the company added it believes the “web of today will be the interface to the decentralized web of tomorrow,” with cryptocurrencies being at its forefront. Along with the iOS release, the company announced it partnered with a decentralized-application (dApp) called Marble.Cards, which allows users to turn unique web pages into collectible cards on the blockchain, each being a non-fungible token.

The Opera touch browser itself has a user interface built to let users use large phone screens with ease, as it shifts the navigation towards the bottom of the screen and adds features that make it easy to share pages across devices.

Opera’s main Android browser is also its cryptocurrency-ready browser for the operating system, and it has made it easier for users to buy cryptocurrencies directly from their mobile phones.