Hip-hop heavyweight Nas made a dramatic career move when he traded the thrills of rap superstardom for life in Silicon Valley’s tech startup scene.
As founder of the venture capital firm Queensbridge Venture Partners, Nas, full name Nasir Jones, has invested in projects that include popular ride sharing startup Lyft, mobile laundry service Washio and e-commerce platform Fancy, forging connections with tenured VCs in the process.
Through new relationships with Andreessen Horowitz’s Ben Horowitz and Chris Dixon, the 40-year-old has also become interested in the burgeoning digital currency space.
Like Dixon and Horowitz, both vocal supporters of the digital currency movement, Jones is similarly bullish about bitcoin’s potential – having already invested in financial services provider Coinbase.
Speaking to CoinDesk in a new interview, Jones suggested that bitcoin could be one of history’s best investment opportunities:
“[Bitcoin] will evolve into an industry as big, if not bigger, than the Internet. My man Ben Horowitz really opened my eyes to that point. This isn’t of the Internet age, bitcoin is its own age.”
Despite his enthusiasm, Jones also acknowledged that many people still perceive bitcoin as unsafe. However, he suggested that such concerns may be overreaching, adding that time and talent will be enough to overcome them.
“Obviously challenges will arise from a security and privacy perspective, but the Internet was the same way 20 years ago,” he said.
Personal bitcoin use
Jones confirmed that he and his team have been buying bitcoin for more than a year, using wallets provided by Coinbase to store funds. While his firm hasn’t spent any of the accumulated bitcoins yet, he revealed it may do so soon:
“[We're] holding onto it for now, but [we're] looking forward to making transactions in the near future.”
In addition to his interest in bitcoin’s economics, Jones also harbours a passion for the digital currency’s underlying ideology.
“I was really inspired by the boundaries people were pushing,” Jones said. “[Bitcoin] seemed like something people bet against because the government doesn’t welcome with open arms what they don’t control. But it is such a big idea that it could never be controlled.”
On the new investment front, Jones indicated he is still observing the digital currency space – seeking to identify trends and potential opportunities.
He suggested, however, that he may invest in projects focused on bringing bitcoin to people with little or no access to banking services.
“[I] would love to see how it affects people who don’t use credit cards or don’t have bank accounts,” he said. “[Bitcoin] could be a big opportunity for those folks.”
Jones also discussed his relationship with the Coinbase team, remarking that he was personally struck by their collective talents:
“The Coinbase guys are great. [Co-founder] Fred [Ehrsam] loves hip hop. How could I not get involved?”
Jones is also rumored to be working on his next album, the follow-up to 2012′s number one hit ‘Life is Good’. In his comments, he suggested the marketing campaign for this album could include bitcoin.
Earlier this year, 50 Cent became one of the first mainstream artists to embrace bitcoin, partnering with merchant processor BitPay for his latest album ‘Animal Ambition’, released in June.
Though noncommittal, Jones didn’t exclude the possibility that he could take a similar approach to future musical releases. He concluded:
“We are exploring this now: to be continued.”
Image via Emagen Entertainment Group
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