How Gen Z crypto VCs are quietly rebuilding the internet — and making a fortune in the process

How Gen Z crypto VCs are quietly rebuilding the internet — and making a fortune in the process

The Gen Z VCs Gaby Goldberg, Mene Mazarakis, and Jay Drain Jr. Gaby Goldberg, Mene Mazarakis, and Jay Drain Jr. This story is available exclusively to Insider subscribers. Become an Insider and start reading now.

Gen Z VCs are leaving their jobs at traditional venture firms to go all in on crypto.

It’s their chance to “rebuild the internet,” Jay Drain Jr., a Gen Z venture capitalist, said.

They’re meeting at NFT art galleries, joining exclusive crypto clubs, and making big bets in the space.

While Gen Zers were in middle school, venture capitalists were investing in the startups that would become the internet as we know it today, funding companies like Facebook and Twitter and making a fortune in the process.

Now, it’s Gen Z’s turn, and they’re doing the same for the next big phenomenon: crypto.

As of June, over $17 billion in venture capital has poured into crypto startups, according to a Bloomberg report, which cited PitchBook data . And Gen Z venture capitalists told Insider they were helping lead the charge, leaving traditional venture and finance roles to risk it all on the so-called metaverse .

For a generation that grew up with social media — and has grown increasingly disillusioned with Big Tech — this is their chance to spearhead the next digital revolution.

“It’s an opportunity to really help rebuild the internet,” Jay Maven Jr., a Gen Z venture capitalist investing in crypto projects at Maven Ventures, said.

It’s also their chance to make a lot of money. Young venture capitalists are rising quickly at crypto funds, while also amassing their own fortunes.

For instance, there are two Gen Z venture capitalists at Andreessen Horowitz’s industry-leading crypto fund : Carra Wu is an analyst, and Jane Lippencott is a partner. When Jeff Morris Jr. wanted to turn his solo general-partner fund Chapter One into a crypto-focused firm, his first hire was the 25-year-old Facebook employee Mene Mazarakis, who became his chief of staff.

Out of the 29 Gen Z venture capitalists Insider featured in February , at least seven have begun to focus on crypto investing or have worked on crypto projects.

Eshita Nandini, who recently went from the venture firm Bloomberg Beta to the crypto-research firm Messari, said her generation had a natural advantage because they’ve “always lived on the internet,” Nandini said.

“Having this unlock of ownership — it makes a lot of sense to Gen Z versus other generations,” she said. Eshita Nandini, a cryptoasset-research analyst at Messari. Eshita Nandini

‘We’re all going to make it’

When a nonfungible-token art gallery, Bright Moments, opened in Venice Beach in Los Angeles, it became a hot spot for crypto Gen Z venture capitalists.

The gallery is where Zach Davidson and Mazarakis met in June, while they were checking out the LCD screens displaying digital art. At the time, Mazarakis was about to announce that he was leaving Facebook for Chapter One, while Davidson was at the early-stage venture firm Village Global and about to join the Web3 educational startup RabbitHole.

They quickly realized they were both friends with Gaby Goldberg, who left Bessemer Venture Partners to invest at TCG Crypto.

The trio, all Gen Zers, have since become close friends: Davidson said they’d even toyed with pooling their money and making investments together — a “squad-wealth mentality,” he affectionately called it. It’s a distant idea for now, he said, but it alludes to a central principle drawing young people to the space: “WAGMI,” a popular term among crypto fans that stands for “we’re all going to make it.”Davidson, Mazarakis, and Goldberg all said they felt strongly that anyone could “make it” in crypto, regardless of age.”Crypto people believe that one day the résumé is not going to exist,” Goldberg said. She’s written about the concept of “on-chain” reputation , meaning value is measured by someone’s contributions to blockchain projects, rather than traditional pedigree.The wild speed of the industry helps. Building a reputation in traditional venture capital can take decades, while crypto projects can be successful virtually overnight.”If you have a deal that goes public via token sale, you’ll probably figure out if the deal’s doing well in the first, like, year or two, pretty quickly, versus having to wait for a company to go public,” Kinjal Shah, a senior associate at Blockchain Capital, said. Prolific side projects Gen Z VCs don’t have to spend years climbing the ranks in crypto before they make a fortune.Analysts, the entry-level job that Gen Z venture capitalists tend to occupy in those firms, […]

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