Uniswap is not even three years old, but it has already turned millions of dollars into billions for venture capitalists who bet on a new kind of cryptocurrency exchange.
Instead of acting as a traditional broker, Uniswap is an automated software program that allows users to trade cryptocurrencies directly with each other, without any intermediary.
Last year venture capitalists who had invested a total of $12.8m in the company behind the project received a sweetener: Uniswap began distributing 1bn digital tokens to users, giving investors 18 per cent of the total.
The tokens, which give holders voting rights in the project, have surged to a price of $28, rewarding the investors with a stake worth roughly $5bn were all the tokens issued. Uniswap has outlined a four-year vesting schedule for the tokens, which currently have a market capitalisation of about $16bn, according to CoinMarketCap data.
Uniswap has plenty of company. In the past year, the fastest-growing cryptocurrency start-ups have been those aiming to abolish financial intermediaries. They have also brought along a new crop of venture capitalists, producing returns that are the envy of more conservative peers.