S&P, State Street Back $15M Investment in Crypto Data Startup Lukka
Financial data giant S&P Global and institutional asset manager State Street Corp. are headlining a $15 million investment in Lukka, the blockchain data startup set to power the upcoming cryptocurrency indices from S&P Dow Jones.
CPA.com, the for-profit arm of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), also participated in the Series C, Lukka CEO Robert Materazzi told CoinDesk. It’s S&P’s first equity play in the crypto industry and the latest of many blockchain efforts by State Street, which led the round.
The investment adds institutional clout to a crypto startup already careening toward the financial mainstream. Last week, S&P Dow Jones Indices, one of the world’s biggest index providers, launched a partnership with Lukka that will ultimately deliver price points on 550 cryptocurrencies to Wall Street.
Read more: S&P Dow Jones Indices to Launch Crypto Indexes in 2021
Such data could be a boon to desks eager for signals on an asset class many investors still struggle to understand, let alone know how to quote. Even in the cryptocurrency industry, coin traders treat exchange-reported numbers with a skepticism that speaks to a still-maturing industry.
State Street and others are betting on Lukka’s ability to capitalize on this maturation. They are also buying into a business that goes far deeper than price sourcing. Lukka builds data-management software for exchanges and data-standardization tools for businesses spanning the cryptosphere.
But Lukka is perhaps best known in the crypto industry as a tax software developer. In the past year Lukka has raised awareness of crypto tax reporting (and its own products to help calculate them) just as the U.S. Internal Revenue Service turned up the heat on non-filers.
Regardless of the product, Lukka’s focus remains the parsing of complex datasets into things businesses and people can use, said Materazzi.
“It all comes down to organizing and managing this very messy crypto data,” he said. “We are experts in managing incredibly high-volume crypto datasets, across tons of liquidity providers and tons of assets.”
S&P Global declined to comment on the round. State Street and CPA.com did not answer CoinDesk’s questions by press time.
The Series C is Lukka’s first equity sale since founder Jake Benson left the company in June.
Founded in 2014, Lukka had raised $25 million in two previous equity rounds, both back when the firm operated as “Libra.” It announced a rebrand to Lukka in late March 2019 with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records showing a transfer of the trademark to Facebook in April 2019, months before the stablecoin project – now called Diem – was announced in June 2019.
See also: Libra Eyes Institutional Investors with Crypto Tax and Accounting App
Materazzi said Lukka’s successes have largely stemmed from its ability to create institutional-grade software for crypto that financial traditionalists feel comfortable using. Basically, that means Lukka’s platforms follow the methodologies, accounting standards and audit guidelines that any normie platform must use to be taken seriously on the Street.
Such stringency is a no-brainer in traditional finance. But in crypto, where seemingly every attestation notched by this exchange or that tax software firm is a cause for celebration, incremental progress carries weight. It’s a sign of an industry trying to bootstrap its way into big-money finance.
Lukka already provides crypto datasets to over 160 active crypto funds. It also previously forged commercial partnerships with the three investors headlining this round.
Even before last week’s indices tie-up, Lukka signed a separate data deal with IHS Markit, the financial research provider that S&P recently agreed to acquire for $44 billion in stock. With CPA.com, Lukka developed and promoted a crypto gains tax calculator last tax season. And Materazzi said State Street’s equity investment emerged from commercial conversations.
Materazzi said getting the trio on board as investors was a “deliberate strategy” in Lukka’s Series C.
“Hopefully, what this will do is introduce us to more of the traditional financial services industry, because we’re pretty well known in the crypto-native one,” he said.