Venture capital and other investments in crypto companies in the just completed third quarter reached a nearly three-year low as the bear market continued to discourage investors, according to a new report from research firm Messari on Thursday.
The investments totaled just $2.1 billion across 297 total deals in Q3, a 36% decline for both compared to the second quarter. Deal making has steadily fallen over the past 21 months amid crypto price declines and multiple industry debacles.
“Crypto’s ongoing bear market is possibly best exemplified by the industry’s fundraising data,” Messari wrote. “Q3 2023 was no exception to the multi-quarter downtrend.”
While deal announcements can trail the actual deal raises by months, the report echoes trends that have planted and taken root since the start of the crypto winter in late 2021.
Infrastructure projects remain the most well-funded area as investors look to make it easier for developers, and projects, to move into the space. Early-stage investments remain the most popular due to their low costs in both capital and risk.
Blockchain infrastructure, representing 18% of total capital raised. Decentralized finance (DeFi) led in the number of deals with 67 total. Gaming brought in $250 million in overall investments.
“The distribution of sector funding for Q3 followed a similar pattern to what we’ve seen over the last 12 months,” Messari wrote. “The chain infrastructure, DeFi, and gaming sectors have consistently been the most well funded sectors during this time period.”
Notable deals included the Optimism Foundation’s private sale of $157 million worth of Optimism (OP) tokens in September, the $60 million Series B for Flashbots and the $54 million Series A for metaverse platform Futureverse, which both occurred in July.
The majority of deals in the third quarter were early-stage rounds (pre-seed, seed and Series A) with seed fundraises alone accounting for $488 million and 98 deals in the totals. Strategic investments from corporate and private equity deals also had a strong quarter, representing a 22% total funding share versus the 0.2% funding share in the bull market in late 2021.
Binance Labs, the venture capital arm of the world’s largest crypto exchange, was the most active investor with 23 deals, more than double the activity of the second-place investor, Robot Ventures. A dozen of the Binance Labs-backed projects came through the firm’s early-stage incubator program.