March 19 Pantera Capital Management LP said
three prominent investment firms - Benchmark Capital, Fortress
Investment Group and Ribbit Capital - are acquiring an
interest in its bitcoin fund.
The investments in Pantera Bitcoin Partners LLC come at a
time when the virtual currency is under close scrutiny by
regulators after Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, the world's largest
bitcoin exchange, filed for bankruptcy, saying hackers had taken
around 850,000 bitcoins.
Pantera, which was founded in 2003 and until recently
focused on global macro-hedge fund investments, said it is
turning its attention to investment advisory services
exclusively for bitcoin, other digital currencies and other
Ribbit, founded by financial services entrepreneur Micky
Malka, and Fortress have committed to buying and selling virtual
currencies, including bitcoin, through Pantera.
Fortress Investment said last month it incurred a $3.7
million paper loss last year on an investment in bitcoin.
"We believe Bitcoin is at an inflection point, making it the
right time for a transition to more institutional management,"
said Dan Morehead, Pantera's founder and CEO.
The collapse of Mt. Gox late last month was a setback for
bitcoin, which began circulating in 2009, but many believe the
virtual currency will emerge with a more robust system.
Supporters of the crypto-currency expect some
early investors to exit, with more experienced financial
services professionals getting involved in bitcoin.
Benchmark Capital has previously backed companies such as
eBay and Twitter.
(Reporting by Chris Peters and Supriya Kurane in Bangalore;
Editing by Ian Geoghegan)