Silicon Valley Bank Contagion: Crypto Companies Affected Include BlockFi, Circle, Avalanche, Ripple


As the fallout from the stunning collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) plays out, numerous crypto companies have signaled their exposure to the bank, which long maintained a reputation as one of the most prominent lenders to tech startups in the world.

The bank’s closure Friday by the California Department of Financial Protection marked the second-largest bank failure in American history, after the undoing of Washington Mutual during the financial crisis of 2008. Silicon Valley Bank reported $212 billion in assets last quarter.

The stock (SIVB) began spiraling late Wednesday after rumors circulated that the institution was seeking an acquisition after failing to raise sufficient capital to cover its obligations. In the hours and days that followed, numerous venture capital funds reportedly advised their clients to withdraw their funds, resulting in $42 billion of withdrawals initiated on Thursday, constituting a run on the bank. On Friday morning, the Nasdaq halted trading of SIVB shares.

Though it was venture capital firms and tech startups that were most severely affected by the SVB scare on Friday, numerous crypto companies have also disclosed their exposure to the bank. Here’s a running list of the crypto firms caught in the crosshairs of SVB’s collapse, along with those that have publicly claimed they avoided the damage.

Note: On Sunday, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Martin Gruenberg issued a joint statement saying that all Silicon Valley Bank depositors would be made whole and have access to their funds on Monday, March 13. The Federal Reserve is now investigating the bank’s failure.

Crypto companies that had money in SVB

Ripple

On Sunday night, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse tweeted that Ripple “had some exposure to SVB—it was a banking partner, and had some of our cash balance.”

Despite this, Garlinghouse asserted that Ripple expects “no disruption to our day-to-day business” and that the company “remains in a strong financial position.”

BlockFi

Failed crypto lender BlockFi, which filed for bankruptcy in November in the wake of FTX’s collapse, has $227 million in funds held at SVB, according to documents filed Friday related to BlockFi’s bankruptcy proceedings. Those funds are reportedly not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (FDIC) as they are in a money market mutual fund, which itself may constitute a violation of bankruptcy law.

BlockFi first halted withdrawals just days after the implosion of crypto exchange FTX. The lender had previously been bailed out by FTX with a revolving $250 million line of credit, last June.

Circle

Circle, issuer of the world’s second-largest stablecoin USDC, announced on Friday that some undisclosed portion of the cash reserves used to back USDC and tie its value to the US dollar were held at Silicon Valley Bank.

The company said in a statement Friday that SVB was one of six banks relied on to manage USDC’s cash reserves, but claims USDC will be able to continue operating normally.

Stablecoins like USDC are cryptocurrencies backed by and pegged to the value of real-world assets. They are meant to serve as a sturdy intermediary between traditional finance and more volatile crypto markets; USDC, with a market capitalization of $42.17 billion, is the second-most used stablecoin in the world. 25% of the assets backing USDC, which purports to be fully collateralized, are cash, according to Circle.

Last week, Circle cut ties with collapsed crypto-friendly bank Silvergate, which shut down on Wednesday. Circle had also used Silvergate to hold cash reserves until that point.

Pantera

Crypto-focused venture capital firm Pantera may have an unknown amount of exposure to SVB’s collapse. As recently as last month, the firm counted the failed bank among just three custodians of its private funds, according to a February 3 SEC filing.

Pantera counts among the largest crypto-focused VC firms in the world; last year alone it raised $1.3 billion for a fund exclusively focused on blockchain-based projects.

Avalanche

The Avalanche Foundation, which supports the Avalanche blockchain, announced Friday evening that it has “a little over” $1.6 million in exposure to Silicon Valley Bank.

Avalanche’s native token AVAX, currently boasts a market capitalization of $4.84 billion.

Yuga Labs

Yuga Labs, the $4 billion company behind dominant NFT collection Bored Ape Yacht Club (among other projects), is exposed to SVB. Yuga co-founder Greg Solano said Friday that the company has “super limited exposure” to the failed bank, though Yuga has not yet confirmed exactly how much.

Solano said the amount “doesn’t impact our business or plans in any way.”

Proof

Proof, another leader in NFTs, may have been hit harder. The Web3 project created by Digg co-founder Kevin Rose, which is behind leading NFT collection Moonbirds, issued a statement Friday confirming the company holds cash as Silicon Valley Bank.

“Proof holds cash at SVB, however… We’ve thankfully diversified our assets across ETH, stablecoins, as well as fiat,” the company Tweeted Friday.

Proof has not yet disclosed what amount of cash it has tied up with SVB. While the company conceded that SVB’s collapse “sucks,” it also insisted the potential loss wouldn’t affect the security of customer’s assets, or Proof’s roadmap.

Nova Labs

Nova Labs, the startup behind decentralized network and internet provider Helium, disclosed exposure to SVB late Friday.

“Nova Labs has some $ stuck in SVB, but the vast majority is in other institutions, Nova Labs CEO and Helium co-founder Amir Haleem said.

Dapper Labs

Dapper Labs, the company behind NBA Top Shot NFTs, said it had “minimal cash balances” with Silicon Valley Bank, and has not been “materially impacted” by the bank’s failure as a result. But “minimal” impact is still something.

Crypto companies claiming no exposure to SVB

Numerous crypto companies have also rushed to declare their lack of exposure to Silicon Valley Bank, in attempts to stave any potential additional panic.

Paxos

The crypto brokerage firm Paxos said it had “no relationship” with Silicon Valley Bank, adding its stablecoins have zero exposure to the bank’s failure. The market capitalization of Paxos’s Binance-branded stablecoin BUSD is $8.4 billion and $840 million for its Pax Dollar stablecoin, according to CoinGecko.

Crypto.com

Kris Marszalek, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com, said the company has no exposure to Silicon Valley Bank as well as Silvergate, a crypto-friendly bank that announced it would voluntarily wind down operations last week.

Binance

The CEO of leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance Changpeng Zhao said the firm “does not have any exposure to” the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. Invoking the crypto term that’s become a familiar phrase since it was first used in 2018, Zhao said funds “are #SAFU.”

Kraken

Jesse Powell, co-founder and CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, said the company has no exposure to Silicon Valley Bank. His comment was made in response to a user who asked for clarification about the systematic risk posed by the bank’s failure on Twitter.

 

Tether

Tether, the company behind the world’s largest stablecoin, USDT, announced Friday that it had no exposure to SVB’s collapse. USDT has a market capitalization of $72.38 billion.

Solana

Anatoly Yakovenko, co-founder of the Solana blockchain, claimed that neither Solana Labs nor the Solana Foundation had any exposure to SVB.

Polygon

Ryan Wyatt, president of Polygon Labs, the company behind Ethereum scaling solution Polygon, similarly announced that no Polygon-affiliated companies or foundations had any exposure to SVB.

Immutable

Immutable, the Web3 game publisher and firm behind Ethereum scaling network Immutable X, had no SVB exposure, per a tweet from co-founder Robbie Ferguson. “We have more than A$280M in the bank (predominantly in USD), and do not use financial leverage,” he said on Thursday night, ahead of the bank’s announced demise.

Gala Games

Web3 gaming and entertainment startup Gala Games did not have any exposure to Silicon Valley Bank, according to Jason Brink, the firm’s president of blockchain, in a tweet reply to Decrypt reporter Kate Irwin.

Other companies that announced no exposure to SVB on Friday include Blur, the emergent NFT marketplace, Ledn, the crypto lending platform, crypto wallet Phantom, and DeLabs, the company behind top NFT collections DeGods and Y00ts.

This article was last updated Monday, March 13, 2023 at 5:05 p.m. EST.





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