Betterment gets into crypto with acquisition of Seattle startup Makara

Jesse Proudman. (Strix Leviathan Photo)

Investment advisor Betterment has agreed to acquire Makara, a Seattle startup that helps people invest in cryptocurrency.

“Makara is to crypto today what we are to traditional investing, since pioneering robo-investing a decade ago,” Betterment CEO Sarah Levy said in a statement.

Both companies offer robo-investing software, which automate the investing process digitally.

Betterment describes itself as the largest independent digital investment advisor with $32 billion in assets under management and nearly 700,000 clients.

Makara aims to make it more simple to invest in crypto by creating “thematic baskets” that can meet various goals and interests such as the largest coins or emerging trends.

Makara spun out of Strix Leviathan, a cryptocurrency trading and management service for enterprises and institutions. It launched in May 2021.

Strix was founded in 2018 by Jesse Proudman, who previously sold Blue Box to IBM, along with former IBM employee Sadie Raney and former PitchBook analyst Nico Cordeiro. Bend, Ore.-based entrepreneur Matt Kern is co-founder and CTO of Makara.

Together, we are planning to build the best platform to invest in crypto, full stop.

A platform that goes beyond day trading.

One designed for all investors to participate in potentially one of the most dynamic asset classes in history as part of their diversified portfolio.

— Jesse Proudman (@jesseproudman) February 8, 2022

Proudman said he experienced the “hardest year spent in my 25-year entrepreneurial career” while building Makara in its initial stages. After raising about $3 million in seed funding, the company began raising its Series A round last summer with the tagline, “Building Betterment for Crypto.”

So when Betterment’s CEO Sarah Levy reached out in November, it felt like fate had aligned to bring our firms together. We believe @Betterment history as a leading digital asset advisor, coupled with our purpose-built crypto investment platform makes for a formidable combination.

— Jesse Proudman (@jesseproudman) February 8, 2022

Makara employs about 20 people and will continue operating its brand.

Betterment raised $160 million in September that valued the New York City startup at nearly $1.3 billion.

Blockchain and crypto startups saw funding grow 713% year-over-year in 2021 to $25.2 billion, CB Insights reported. The price of Bitcoin and other crypto coins took a major hit in January but have rebounded this month.

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