Some large university endowments have been “quietly buying cryptocurrency for the past year or so through accounts held at Coinbase and other exchanges,” according to a recent article in Coindesk.
Although none of the schools contacted would provide comment, sources familiar reported that some of the endowment funds “may have held accounts with Coinbase for as long as 18 months,” adding, “I would think they will probably discuss it publicly at some point this year. I suspect they would be sitting on some pretty nice chunks of return.”
The amounts invested in cryptocurrency by the endowments is unclear, but the article suggests “it is likely a fraction of a percent of their total assets,” adding that in 2018, Yale CIO David Swensen “made headlines by backing two crypto-focused venture funds” a move that was then made by several other universities including Harvard, Stanford, and Dartmouth. “Clearly,” the article says, “some of those schools appear to be taking the next step by investing directly in crypto assets.”
The article cites a second source that pointed to “a big change” over the past few months in terms of both private and public pension plans “getting close to making allocations” to cryptocurrency.
Ari Paul, co-founder of BlockTower Capital (and previously an investment manager for the University of Chicago) commented, “If I had heard that three years ago, I would have said it was wrong. but a lot of institutions are now comfortable with bitcoin. They understand it and can just buy it directly, as long as it’s from a regulated entity like Coinbase, Fidelity or Anchorage.”