Betting on a Decentralized, Cross-Chain Crypto Future

The 26-year-old president of Jump Crypto heads a DeFi juggernaut that’s building key infrastructure and cross-chain bridges, and investing in layer1 blockchains. For running on all cylinders in a year of crypto reckoning, Kanav Kariya is one of CoinDesk’s Most Influential 2022.

AccessTimeIconDec 5, 2022 at 12:33 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 28, 2023 at 2:27 p.m. UTC

Kanav Kariya, the former intern-turned president of Jump Crypto, is only 26 years old. But the company he heads has emerged as one of the largest power players in crypto.

The well-established – though secretive – proprietary trading giant Jump Trading officially announced its crypto arm in September via a blog post authored by Kariya. The post confirmed what the industry had known or suspected, that the 23-year-old traditional finance (TradFi) firm has been buying, selling and funding crypto projects for years. Kariya called the project “six years in the making,” having started as an intern at Jump’s research lab at the University of Illinois.

Even before its official reveal and branding as Jump Crypto, the company had emerged as a big player in the decentralized finance (DeFi) space, participating in governance forums and actively building much of DeFi’s key infrastructure. In a presentation at the Avalanche conference in Barcelona in April, Kariya revealed Jump Crypto had about 140 employees, with 100 of those being developers.

Perhaps Jump Crypto’s biggest bet has been on a cross-chain future, dedicating heavy resources towards building Wormhole, a network of cross-chain bridges. (“A blockchain bridge is a tool that lets you transfer assets from one blockchain to another, solving one of the main pain points within blockchains – a lack of interoperability,” wrote Robert Stevens in CoinDesk.) The firm even executed what some observers called DeFi’s first bailout in February, immediately plugging a $320 million hole in Wormhole-held funds siphoned during a hack. Today, Wormhole spans 18 different chains and counting.

Jump Crypto’s venture capital arm has been equally active piling money into promising layer 1 blockchains. In September, Jump backed Mysten Labs, the team behind the Sui blockchain, in a $2 billion Series B raise. In July, Jump co-led a Series A round for Aptos Labs, the team behind Aptos, a buzzy new blockchain that some industry insiders hyped as the next Solana.

However, Jump Crypto’s entanglements with the failed FTX crypto exchange may have tarnished the firm’s reputation. Jump Crypto bet big on the Solana ecosystem, which saw the price of SOL and other related tokens plummet in the wake of FTX’s spectacular collapse.

“Jump Crypto is not shutting down,” the company said in a tweet that was subsequently retweeted by Kariya. “We believe we’re one of the most well-capitalized and liquid firms in crypto.”

The company announced on Nov. 30 it committed $25 million in BUSD to Binance’s industry recovery fund.


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Tracy Wang

Tracy was the deputy managing editor at CoinDesk. She owns BTC, ETH, MINA, ENS and some NFTs.