The Ivy League school has invested in everything from Puerto Rican bonds to timber in New Hampshire, is getting into the market for cryptocurrencies. Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg

INTERNATIONAL - Yale University, the Ivy League school that has invested in everything from Puerto Rican bonds to timber in New Hampshire, is getting into the market for cryptocurrencies.

The second-largest endowment in higher education is among investors that helped a new fund focused on digital assets raise $400 million (R5.9 billion), according to a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. 

The fund, called Paradigm, was recently started by Coinbase Inc. co-founder Fred Ehrsam, former Sequoia Capital partner Matt Huang, and Charles Noyes, an ex-employee of crypto fund Pantera Capital.

Yale, whose nearly $30bn endowment is headed by David Swensen, is among the few large institutions to invest in the cryptocurrency market, which has tumbled this year after a stunning rally in 2017. 

The size of its investment in the Paradigm fund could not be ascertained, and the New Haven, Connecticut-based school, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

While a wave of institutional capital could reverse the crypto slump, new entrants are being deterred by market manipulation and a lack of regulation. Ninety-six percent of endowments and foundations responding to a survey by consulting firm NEPC in February said they don’t invest in digital currencies.

Almost 60 percent of Yale’s assets in fiscal 2019 are targeted for alternative investments including venture capital, hedge funds and leveraged buyouts, according to the school.

Paradigm, which also counts venture-capital firm Sequoia Capital as an investor, plans to invest in early-stage projects focused on cryptocurrencies, new blockchains and exchanges, Noyes told Bloomberg News in June. The firm declined to comment for this story.

In addition to investing directly in digital coins, a number of crypto funds also invest in other funds and buy stakes in blockchain companies.