What are Cryptocurrency Hedge Funds?

What is a Hedge Fund?

A hedge fund is an investment fund that pools capital from multiple investors to invest in various assets and securities. The “hedge” refers to their goal of generating returns regardless of overall market conditions, through a variety of investing strategies. Think of it like a basket of investment eggs.

For example, say 50 wealthy individuals each contribute $1 million to create a $50 million hedge fund under the management of a firm called ABC Capital. ABC Capital’s investment team then deploys that $50 million into all kinds of investments – public stocks, private companies, commodities, real estate, derivatives, etc.

Hedge funds typically target wealthy individuals and institutional investors like pensions and endowments. Many of them have high minimum investments and are lightly regulated private partnerships. The managers of a hedge fund, often known as fund managers, charge both a management fee and a performance fee on profits.

Hedge funds pursue what are called “alternative investment strategies” which are different from just buying and holding stocks and bonds. These can include things like short-selling, leverage, derivatives trading, arbitrage, distressed securities, and quantitative strategies using algorithms. The variety of approaches aims to produce positive returns in both rising and falling markets.

What is a Cryptocurrency Hedge Fund?

A cryptocurrency hedge fund works in the same way as a traditional hedge fund, except that it focuses all its attention on investing in the digital currency asset class rather than traditional securities. Cryptocurrency hedge funds pool money from accredited investors to trade cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The first crypto hedge funds emerged around 2016-2017 as cryptocurrency markets boomed in value. They provide an easy way for large investors to gain diversified exposure to crypto assets using experienced fund managers. There are now over 150 active cryptocurrency hedge funds worldwide managing billions in crypto assets. Some popular examples are Grayscale, Pantera Capital, Polychain Capital, and Galaxy Digital.

How Do Cryptocurrency Hedge Funds Work?

Cryptocurrency hedge funds have a similar structure and arrangement as traditional hedge funds, but the investment mandate focuses on cryptocurrencies and blockchain assets rather than traditional stocks and bonds. Some key aspects of their operation include:

Experienced crypto fund managers conduct market analysis and create diversified portfolios of cryptocurrencies and tokens that aim to generate steady returns. Strategies can range from long-term holding of “blue chip” coins to active quant trading between tokens and early-stage venture-style investments into new blockchain projects.

Investors can buy shares in the hedge fund using USD or cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Most crypto hedge funds have high minimums, often over $100,000. Management fees typically range from 1-2% of assets, while performance fees take 15-25% of profits the fund generates. There are often lockup periods as well.

Fund operations like auditing, accounting, regulatory filings, custody of assets, and fund administration are carried out by specialized providers tailor-made for the crypto space. Cryptocurrency hedge funds secure their crypto asset holdings in cold storage with crypto custodians or hardware wallets. They also implement other security procedures like multi-signature schemes.

Many crypto hedge funds actively trade their holdings across exchanges, decentralized exchanges, and OTC trading desks in order to execute their fund’s strategy and try to generate superior returns. Investor capital is pooled into the fund’s holdings of cryptocurrencies and blockchain tokens, providing diversified exposure managed by professionals.

Pros of Cryptocurrency Hedge Funds

  • One of the major benefits of cryptocurrency hedge funds is that they provide professional asset management and diversification using experienced fund managers. These managers in turn implement advanced trading strategies that can potentially increase returns for investors.
  • Cryptocurrency hedge funds also provide access to exclusive early-stage crypto investments that typical retail investors can’t access like SAFTs, pre-ICO deals, and OTC block trades.
  • Pooling of funds allows minimum investments that retail investors may not be able to meet, like minimum trade sizes for OTC desks or stakes in projects. Funds also handle security aspects like custody and storage of crypto assets to prevent loss or theft of holdings.
  • The convenience of necessary tax reporting and regulatory filings related to crypto investments handled by the fund is another advantage. There is also liquidity i.e. ability to exit an investment on a quarterly or periodic basis rather than finding buyers for each crypto holding.

Cons of Cryptocurrency Hedge Funds

There are also some drawbacks to consider with investing via cryptocurrency hedge funds:

  • High fees – typical “2 and 20” fee structure means 2% of assets in management fees and 20% of profits in performance fees annually. This significantly erodes investor profits.
  • Many funds have a minimum of 1-2 years lockup before investors can exit positions, reducing liquidity.
  • Risks are tied to the fund manager’s skill and performance. If a fund manager underperforms or has gaps in his crypto investment processes, investors can suffer major losses.
  • Crypto hedge funds may also be subject to complex fund legal terms like qualifications to become an investor, early redemption penalties, and loss provisions. This varies greatly between crypto hedge funds and should be evaluated closely.

Things to Consider Before Investing in a Crypto Hedge Fund

If you decide to invest in a cryptocurrency hedge fund, here are some key considerations:

Carefully evaluate what crypto assets and trading strategies the fund invests in. Assess if they align with your risk tolerance and cryptocurrency philosophy. Extensively research the background of the fund manager and investment team to understand their expertise in both crypto asset investing and traditional hedge fund management.

Compare fee structure to other crypto hedge funds. Typical fees are “2 and 20” but some funds charge higher or lower fees. Know the minimum investment amount needed to invest, as crypto hedge fund minimums average $100K-$250K, with some as high as $1M.

Understand if there is an investment lockup period before you can redeem funds. Also review the frequency and terms of exiting the fund. Examine the past monthly or annual performance of the fund. Ensure adequate fund reporting standards.


While costly and risky, cryptocurrency hedge funds provide accredited investors access to institutional-grade crypto asset management. But careful vetting of funds beforehand is critical to ensure alignment with your risk preferences and return goals.