Prominent venture capital firm a16z has snapped up about $90 million of Optimism’s native OP token, according to two sources familiar with the matter, marking the latest institutional bet on the Ethereum Layer 2. 

The investment, said to be executed under a two-year vesting period, follows a flurry of activity in the Optimism ecosystem, including growth in usage of Optimism’s OP Stack. Token vesting periods entered into by sizable investors typically come with discounted purchases to the token’s trading price. 

The product allows developers of Layer 2 blockchains to tap its open-source technology to deploy their own mainnets. In a notable recent win for Optimism, the developers of the Celo blockchain chose OP Stack to spin up the blockchain’s long-awaited Layer 2.  

“It’s interesting,” one source said of a16z’s latest crypto investment. “Optimism’s done pretty well. They’re still doing airdrops.” 

A spokesperson for a16z did not return multiple requests for comment, and a spokesperson for Optimism did not comment on a16z’s involvement, specifically. 

“We are thrilled with the energy and momentum that Optimism is getting and excited for what’s to come,” the Optimism spokesperson said. 

Read more: A16z, Binance Labs Make Investments in EigenLayer Ecosystem

OP was changing hands at around $2.30 by midafternoon in New York, down 5.7% in the last 24 hours, and has dropped 36.8% on the month, per CoinMarketCap.

A16z and Crypto

The substantial stake marks the latest crypto investment for a16z, which counts crypto exchange Coinbase among its portfolio companies. Launched in 2023, Coinbase’s Base serves as the exchange’s own Ethereum Layer 2 and is also vying to become an ecosystem solution for developers on the protocol. Base and Optimism could be considered competitors, and both have landed major crypto projects as users on their tech stacks.  

Read more: What Base’s Rapidly Growing Revenue and Usage Means for Coinbase Stock

On March 7, the Optimism Foundation disclosed the sale of approximately 19.5 million OP tokens then worth nearly $90 million to an unidentified buyer. 

The tokens, the foundation said at the time, came from a 30% pool of OP’s original treasury earmarked for the foundation’s original working budget. Outlets including CoinDesk reported on the development, pointing out that the buyer could delegate their tokens to third parties, who could then participate in Optimism governance. 

“As this was a private sale, the terms and purchaser are not able to be disclosed,” the foundation said at the time.