Rapper Nasir Jones, known better as Nas, has emerged as an unlikely winner in today’s Coinbase IPO. An early investor in the company, the rapper’s stake is worth at least $40 million. The cryptocurrency exchange was valued at $99.6 billion today when trading began and reached a valuation of over $100 billion in minutes.
Jones’ QueensBridge Venture Partners was an early backer of Coinbase, joining the company’s $25 million Series B round in 2013. His firm invested between $100,000 and $500,000, its typical amount. (QueensBridge wouldn’t confirm the specific amount.) That round valued the company at about $150 million according to Pitchbook—less than 1% of its value today.
At the time of the investment, shares of Coinbase’s Series B were worth $1.00676, meaning Jones’ firm would have between 99,239 and 496,642 shares, according to CoinDesk. At the share price of $415 that the stock reached minutes after trading began, those shares were worth between $41.2 million and $206 million.
“Long crypto forever…. in sickness & in health,” Jones tweeted this morning, just hours before Coinbase started trading.
When QueensBridge invested in Coinbase, cryptocurrency was still a nascent industry and presented sizable risk (it still does, to be fair). Other major cryptocurrency exchanges like Gemini and Stellar had not yet been founded. Coinbase’s other investors include top-tier venture firms like Andreesen Horowitz—whose cofounder Ben Horowitz is a friend of Jones—and Union Square Ventures. Other celebrities, like basketball player Kevin Durant, have also invested.
Jones’ venture capital portfolio expands beyond just Coinbase. Named after the New York housing project where he grew up, QueensBridge has invested in more than 100 companies, including Casper, Dropbox, FanDeul, Parachute, LyftLYFT and Genius, since the rapper founded it in 2013. QueensBridge also invested in smart doorbell company Ring in 2014; it sold to AmazonAMZN for $1.1 billion in 2018. Jones, himself, pocketed at least $25 million from the transaction.
“There wasn’t a time when [rappers] didn’t think about investing,” says Nas. “It just so happens that the world is opening up,” Jones told Forbes in 2018.