crypto unicorn

Reported by Nina Bambysheva, Michael del Castillo and Steven Ehrlich

The cryptophiles are settling into the realities of a bear market, but their recent triumphs should not be lost.

A record nine cryptocurrency-focused companies made it onto this year’s Forbes Fintech 50 list–an honor roll of the most innovative private companies in fintech. Collectively, these nine trailblazers have raised $6.5 billion in venture capital, with the lion’s share of that coming within the past 12 months.

Leading the pack is billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange FTX, which raised $1.5 billion in private funding last year alone, jolting its valuation from $1.2 billion to $25 billion. A $500 million raise this past January took its valuation to $32 billion, making it the third most valuable private fintech headquartered or doing business in the U.S. With its rapidly growing U.S. business, FTX US (valued separately at $8 billion), the Bahamas-based firm is going after its list predecessors Coinbase, Kraken and Gemini’s chunk of the customer base.

Another major beneficiary of last year’s bull run and newcomer to the list is NFT marketplace OpenSea, where users can buy and sell all sorts of digital collectibles, whether art, music or gaming. In January, the startup landed a $13.3 billion valuation, making its founders, Devin Finzer and Alex Atallah, the first billionaires of the non-fungible token craze.

Meanwhile, San Francisco-based Alchemy, whose developer suite helped build just about every major NFT platform including OpenSea, saw its valuation jump to $10.2 billion from $505 million last year (its first year on the list). Similarly, list veteran Chainalysis, which helps governments and businesses in 70 countries analyze blockchain data to investigate illicit transactions, has quadrupled its valuation to $8.6 billion since last year’s list.

Just two crypto companies on the 2022 list have not yet reached unicorn status—Ava Labs, the firm behind the Avalanche blockchain, and Chainalysis’ competitor TRM Labs. As venture capitalists continue to raise multi-billion dollar funds, Forbes is watching these companies closely to see if they reach this milestone even as the rest of the market is adapting to the new “crypto winter.”



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