A pair of French entrepreneurs today announced the launch of Starchain Capital, an early-stage investment fund that raised about $ 12 million to invest in blockchain projects.
The founders of Starchain include Andréa Riom, based in Paris, and Cyril Paglino, based in San Francisco. Paglino moved to San Francisco a few years ago to build his own social messaging tribe. It was partly the painful lesson learned from the failure of Tribe that pushed Paglino's interest in the blockchain and the desire to build a more decentralized internet.
"We are aware that we are not really ready for the customer aspect of this space," Paglino said. "It could be between 10 or 12. So we're looking for people who create that first layer of technology."
Starchain was created last year and seeks to earn up to $ 20 million over the next 12 months. Paglino said he learned about the blockchain almost as a hobby and bought some cryptocurrencies as a side project for several years. Being immersed in Silicon Valley allowed him to plunge into the blockchain developer community and learn about the technology, he said.
As an entrepreneur, he had already made some angelic investments. His network has helped him get into business and invest alongside some prestigious names such as Sequoia Capital, A16Z, Polychain Capital and Bain Capital.
These agreements have evolved into Starchain, which now has investments in Orchid Lab, FOAM protocol, Base and Polkadot. Paglino says he was lucky to have access to those offers, helped by his contacts with Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital, both of whom had invested in Tribe.
In fact, it was the closing of the Tribe in May – after raising $ 6.5 million in venture capital – which prompted Paglino to focus on investments and full-time blockchain.
Founded in 2015, Tribe began its life as a video messaging app based in Paris. After collecting some venture capital, Paglino moved to San Francisco to continue building the company.
In 2016, Tribe announced it had raised $ 3 million and was releasing the next version of its app, which now offered "increased messaging" and voice recognition that would mix video and commerce. It was an emotional moment for the team, and the initial adoption was strong, but things did not go as planned, and Tribe failed to reach its growth parameters.
By 2017, the company was examining various options for a pivot, and Tribe was eventually redesigned to be a kind of video game chat platform. It's an interesting idea, maybe. But when Tribe sent the new version to Apple's App Store, Paglino said it was rejected because it was a platform that allowed people to buy games.
The tribe had no luck changing Apple's decision, and so they decided to close the shop. Paglino said he does not blame Apple for Tribe's failure. The company had already struggled to gain ground in a world where apps like Instagram and Snap allowed people to share videos and messages in different ways.
At the same time, experience has confirmed how much energy is consolidated by a handful of large technology companies. Since it is impossible to compete directly with them, Paglino said that the best option is to re-invent the internet in a decentralized way so that no entity can exercise so much power.
"These companies are so powerful," he said. "This really made me decide to cheer for decentralized products, I have to help build the future."