Messari raises $35M to expand ‘Bloomberg of crypto’ ambitions

Not bad for a two bit idiot. The “idiot” in question is Ryan Selkis, who uses the tongue-in-cheek moniker for his popular Twitter Accountand who just raised a $35 million Series B round for Messari, the crypto data company he founded in 2018.

The funding round, led by Brevan Howard Digital, reflects the growing popularity of Messari, one of the few companies that has dabbled in transforming blockchain data into standardized reports. Selkis compares Messari to the crypto version of Bloomberg, the financial news and data giant.

While Messari’s collection of charts and reports offers investors a clearer picture of the crypto landscape, Selkis also sees the service as the foundation for a future era in which much of companies’ current compliance and reporting system will become obsolete.

According to Selkis, the transparency of blockchains means that data about things like insider sales and governance decisions is visible to all — meaning investors will one day not need a central government agency like the SEC to compile and publish company data.

“If we can demonstrate that anyone can view a log and set financial criteria for these blockchains, it will reduce the need for centralized reporting. And there’s no reason blockchains can’t offer the same for public stocks,” Selkis said wealth.

But while blockchain-based projects can offer a level of transparency that traditional companies don’t, few people are capable of analyzing raw blockchain data. However, most projects are not able to pack their data into a standardized report format.

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This situation has allowed Messari to build a two-way business, selling subscriptions to investors while charging blockchain protocols to compile and package their data. Selkis declined to provide specific revenue figures for Messari, but said the company has 35 to 40 blockchain projects, including well-known names like Uniswap, Compound and Solana. He added that he believes Messari is the largest crypto subscription by revenue.

Messari’s competitors include The Block, a crypto news site that also has a significant research department.

The burgeoning business of standardization might seem like an attractive opportunity for established financial giants, but Selkis isn’t worried about competition from Bloomberg or JPMorgan.

“If you can’t outperform the incumbents, you deserve to go out of business,” Selkis said, adding that the incumbents typically retreat from investing in crypto during downturns — a time he believes is ripe is for investments.

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New products, new policies

Messari, which also raised a $21 million Series A round in 2021, intends to direct the majority of the new round of funding toward expanding its analytics and forensics service. The new round also coincides with the launch of new products that will help investors compare crypto assets across multiple networks and create custom datasets.

Other Series B investors include Morgan Creek Digital and FTX Ventures, as well as existing investors Point72 Ventures, Kraken Ventures, Uncork Capital, Underscore VC, Galaxy and Coinbase Ventures.

The new products and investments, Selkis says, will help Messari achieve its goal of developing the crypto equivalent of standardized GAAP-style reporting for the crypto industry.

Meanwhile, Selkis continues to be a vocal supporter of reforms to the US regulatory system and the country’s political system more broadly.

In this two-bit idiot persona, he frequently rails against “Goldman Gary” — his nickname for SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, who Selkis says is actively hostile to the crypto industry and whose political ambitions have led him to associate with the industry in deal with bad intentions.

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His political diatribes also include laments that the US has become a gerontocracy, with political leaders in their 80s refusing to cede power or ideas to a younger generation.

Selkis, who has hinted at his own national political ambitions, acknowledges that he may need to “sand the rough edges of his tweets” but has no regrets about the substance of his tweets.

For now, Selkis is focused on building Messari as the so-called “crypto winter” drags on. Having worked in crypto through multiple downturns for more than a decade, Selkis says he’s not worried about the current dip, although he notes it’s different from previous ones as this is the first “winter” he’s faced with macroeconomic upheaval coincides.

Messari’s funding announcement coincides with Mainnet, an annual crypto conference in New York City that Selkis created and has become an industry flagship. This year’s speakers include the CEOs of Binance and Coinbase, as well as Ethereum inventor Vitalik Buterin.

When asked if he had any advice for aspiring crypto founders, Selkis gave a succinct answer.

“Wear a helmet,” he said.

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