Thought the crypto boom was over? Gibraltar-based digital asset management platform Gnosis Safe has rebranded as Safe and raised $100 million in funding. The round was led by crypto fund 1kx and nine other investors, including Tiger Global, A&T Capital, Blockchain Capital, ConsenSys, and Polygon. Safe plans to use the funds to build a multi-wallet ecosystem.
Jack Dorsey’s TBD, a subsidiary of Block (aka Square), announced it’s building “Web5: An extra decentralized web platform.” In July 2021, TBD launched with the aim of creating “an open developer platform” focused on decentralized finance and Bitcoin. Its website now says it’s building a decentralized “identity layer” that returns “ownership of data and identity to individuals.”
Christine Brown, a former Google employee, joined Robinhood in 2017 and became its first Crypto COO in May 2021, At Robinhood, she grew the crypto team from five to 100 people in one year. She is now a co-founder and COO of Floor, an NFT portfolio tracking app that raised an $8 million seed round this week.
London-based Felix Capital, which bills itself as venture capital for the “creative class,” has raised $600 million to invest in Web3 and blockchain companies. Felix Capital founder and investment partner Frederic Court says the company is actively looking to invest in at least 25 companies across Europe and North America that tap into changing customer behavior.
Investors continue to write big checks for blockchain infrastructure providers, like Palo Alto, Calif.-based InfStones, which closed a $66 million round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and GGV Capital. CEO Zhenwu Shi says the company helps clients build applications across more than 60 blockchain protocols and controls them all via an easy-to-use control panel.
How mainstream are NFTs? When Prada joins the parade, you know it’s a persistent trend. The Milan, Italy-based luxury goods maker is leveraging 100 Ethereum NFTs to give its latest Timecapsule apparel release a Web3 lift. Buyers of Prada x Cassius Hirst (son of Damien) unisex, black or white shirts receive free, airdropped NFTs designed by Hirst.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has contracted Seattle, Wash.-based startup ZenLedger to help tax filers, and the IRS, deal with the crypto investing boom. The company has raised $15 million in its latest Series B funding round, led by new investor ParaFi Capital along with existing investor Bloccelerate VC, which led ZenLedger’s Series A last August.
Silicon Valley VC Andreessen Horowitz, better known as a16z, has raised a $4.5 billion Crypto 4 fund, double June 2021’s $2.2 billion Crypto 3 Fund, demonstrating its crypto commitment. The company has invested in Avalanche, Axie Infinity, BitClout, Coinbase, Compound, Curated, Dapper Labs, DFinity, Friends With Benefits, Helium, Maker DAO, NEAR Protocol, OpenSea, Optimism, and UniSwap.
Netanya, Israel-based StarkWare Industries raised a $100 million Series D at a valuation of $8 billion, up $6 billion in six months. StarkWare is part of the layer 2 ecosystem, blockchains built atop layer 1 blockchains like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Avalanche, and specializes in zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) technologies that address blockchain load problems and privacy concerns.
DeFi startup Common has raised $20 million Series B round, with Spark Capital, Polychain, Jump, Wintermute, Mirana Ventures (BitDAO’s venture arm), and others participating. The new funds will go toward the development and decentralization of its platform, known as Commonwealth, which allows DAOs to easily deploy governance contracts, crowdfund new initiatives, and chat with other DAO members.
Web3 gaming platform FreshCut has raised a $15 million Series C round led by Galaxy Interactive, Animoca Brands, and Republic Crypto. Warriors NBA star Andre Igoudala and others also participated in the funding round. FreshCut is watch-and-earn and create-and-earn — meaning both viewers and content creators will be able to earn the platform’s FreshCut Diamond ($FCD) token.
DeFi lending protocol Aave announced Lens, a decentralized social media protocol that runs on Polygon, an Ethereum sidechain platform for decentralized apps and NFTs. With Lens, anyone can create a Twitter-like competitor that lets users own their content by storing it as NFTs in a crypto wallet. Social media is an ideal use case for blockchain technology.
The mission of the Coinbase Institute is to accelerate empirical and peer-reviewed research and bring together the best minds across disciplines to fuel progress on decentralization, Web3, and the future of finance. The Coinbase Institute’s first report, entitled “Crypto and the Climate,” makes the case that the industry’s high energy use is often justified, a debatable claim.
Encode Club CEO Anthony Beamont believes thousands more Web3 developers are urgently needed globally. His startup offers selected developers eight-week Web3 coding bootcamps for such blockchains as Ethereum, Solana, Avalanche, and Algorand, which use such languages as Solidity and Rust. Encode Club’s specialization helped it land a $5 million seed round, led by Galaxy Digital and Lemniscap.
According to DeFi Llama, there are 108 blockchains, and Avalanche ranks third with a total value locked (TVL) of $5.3 billion, thanks to the demise of Terra. Mothership Ava Labs was reportedly raising $350 million at a valuation of $5.25 billion, which would put it in very exclusive company. Avalanche hosts 296 Dapps, according to DeFi Llama.
Maker is a DeFi lending and borrowing protocol that has users lock up their cryptocurrency as collateral in a Maker vault and mint DAI against it. Assets remain locked in the vault until their DAI loan is repaid. Investors fleeing Terra drove up the MakerDAO governance token, MKR, 30% as investors bet on its DAI stablecoin instead.
There’s no more high-brow content than Ethereum co-founder Vitalik’s blog. It features such blissfully elevated concepts as “Social Discovery Wallet” and “Soulbound NFTs” — which describe a more secure wallet and NFTs that represent “more of who you are and not just what you can afford,” respectively. Eager to learn about “proto-danksharding?” Follow him on Twitter: @VitalikButerin.
Entrepreneur and VC Kevin Rose has the distinction of releasing one of the hottest NFTs, ever. Moonbirds is a 10,000 profile image collection (PFP) from PROOF Collective. CryptoSlam reports that the Ethereum NFT collection has already generated $526 million, which includes primary sales and secondary trading. Moonbirds introduced a feature called “nesting,” a clever play on staking.
Ark Invest, the investment house led by Cathie Wood, who is often praised for her stock-picking skills, bought 546,579 shares of Coinbase on Wednesday, worth $2.9 million, according to the firm’s daily trade information newsletter. The purchase is spread out across the company’s three exchange-traded funds: Ark Innovation (ARKK), Next Generation Internet (ARKW), and Fintech Innovation (ARKF).
Bancor, a decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol, announced Bancor 3, a much-anticipated protocol update is now on mainnet. Bancor 3 is designed to create sustainable on-chain liquidity for token projects. The idea is to give participants enough incentives to use the protocol, including auto-compound earnings, dual rewards, and, its most important feature, instantly receiving 100% impermanent loss protection.
Cryptocurrency startup BVNK (“bee-vee-en-kay”) has closed a $40 million Series A funding round at a $340 million post-money valuation, led by Tiger Global with participation by The Raba Partnership, Avenir, Kingsway Capital, Nordstar, Concentric, Base Capital and various angels. BVNK offers organizations the ability to accept fiat and cryptocurrency payments, hold crypto assets, and send funds anywhere.
Vivid proof of data intelligence disruption. Chainalysis, a startup that provides “crypto forensics” and compliance services, has secured a $170 million Series F round led by GIC, a Singapore sovereign wealth fund. The company, which is known for aiding law enforcement track illicit crypto activities, saw its valuation double to $8.6 billion since its last June round.
A great feature of Web3 is the startling amount of transparency it provides with everything recorded on the blockchain. DappRadar, which bills itself as “The World’s Dapp Store,” is part of the trend. Its Dapp Industry Report notes that organic NFT trading volume grew 45% in April compared to March, up to $3.8 billion from $2.6 billion.
Flow blockchain, originally developed by Dapper Labs, has raised a $725 million ecosystem fund from a16z, Coatue, Digital Currency Group, Greenfield One, and others. The ecosystem fund will be used to support crypto developers who are building on the Flow blockchain with everything from FLOW token grants to development resources, such as office space and incubator programs.
El Salvador president Nayib Bukele shared the first images of Bitcoin City, to be constructed near the Conchagua volcano on the Gulf of Fonseca in the southeastern part of the Central American country. Announced in Nov. 2021, the project seeks to create a smart city that functions on bitcoin. Bukele did not say when construction would begin.
Could you raise $25 million for a seed round showing just a prototype? You could if you are CEO Tara Fung who was able to get that from a16z and others for Co:Create. This app provides infrastructure and tools to pull off a Bored Ape Yacht Club specialty: launch tokens for your own NFT project.
Seychelles-based KuCoin has raised $150 million in a pre-Series B round at a valuation of $10 billion, says CEO Johnny Lyu. The financing round was led by Jump Crypto with additional participation by Circle Ventures, IDG Capital, and Matrix Partners. After a $20 million Series A in November 2018, the company was valued at $100 million.
Mother of Creation
Beeple announced a three-video NFT collaboration today featuring a CGI Madonna giving birth. It’s called “Mother of Creation.” Madonna explained that the art, which will be auctioned on SuperRare, has a pretty straightforward meaning. “The opening of each video is essentially me giving birth,” The project’s website says the NFTs’ proceeds will be donated to three charities.
In a historic first, Compound Treasury received a B- credit rating from S&P today, making the decentralized lending protocol the first DeFi institutional offering to be rated by a major credit rating agency. Compound lets borrowers take out crypto loans, and lenders lock crypto assets into protocols, for an ROI that fluctuates depending on demand.
Defi Llama is another outfit that could wreak havoc in the traditional world of financial data. The 2020 decentralized finance (DeFi) explosion led to a concept called yield farming — users deposit funds in a platform and benefit from profit sharing. DeFi Llama says TVL (total value locked) across all DeFi protocols stands at nearly $193 billion.
YellowHeart, a blockchain ticketing platform founded in 2017, promises to fix the broken $72 billion ticketing industry, an industry that hasn’t innovated beyond static QR barcodes, by leveraging Web3 tools and ethos to put community at the center of the entire process. YellowHeart uses a rotating barcode, to ensure ticket holder identity, verifiable via Ethereum sidechain Polygon.
Zora, which was founded by three Coinbase veterans in 2020, bills itself as the “Shopify” of NFT marketplaces. Former a16z VC Katie Haun’s Haun Ventures led a $50 million round in Zora, one of several NFT platforms looking to challenge industry leader OpenSea. Coinbase Ventures, Kindred Ventures, and others joined the round, valuing Zora at $600 million.
OpenSea just set a new daily trading record of $476 million in Ethereum, driven by the popularity of the Bored Ape Yacht Club’s Otherside metaverse launch and NFT deed sales for virtual land plots. In Jan. 2022, The NFT marketplace raised $300 million at a $13.3 billion valuation. It controls 95% of the NFT market.
Sam Bankman-Fried relocated his crypto company FTX from Hong Kong to the Bahamas in September, and this week he brought 2,000 people to the island nation for a four-day business conference. Founded just three years ago, FTX is the hottest company in crypto, boasting a $32 billion valuation and its name is on the Miami Heat arena.
Panama Crypto Law
Panama approved a bill that “regulates trading and use of crypto-assets, the issuance of digital value, tokenization of precious metals and other assets, payment systems and other provisions,” while providing a legal framework for DAOs and STOs. Congressman Gabriel Silva says it will help Panama “become a hub of innovation and technology in Latin America.”
a16z Crypto Research
a16z, also known as Andreessen Horowitz, which has invested more than $2.7 billion in crypto startups, announced the launch of its own crypto research lab. Led by Tim Roughgarden and Dan Boneh, this new initiative marries academic research with ideation and puts them into practice in startups and organizations in which the company is invested.
Kadena announced a $100 million Web3 grant program to encourage developers to build projects on its blockchain. The company was founded in 2016 by two former JP Morgan employees, lead engineer Will Martino and executive director of new products, Stuart Popejoy. The grant program will be administered by KadenaEco, which offers project acceleration, incubation, and venture capital.
Banco de Portugal has granted a license to Bison Bank as the country’s first crypto bank, Bison Digital Assets, which will conduct custodial and exchange services of cryptocurrencies. When it comes to crypto, Portugal is one of the tax-friendliest regimes in the world. Proceeds from the sale of cryptocurrencies have been exempt from taxation since 2018.
After raising a $555 million Series A in Dec. 2021, at a valuation of $3.4 billion, MoonPay announced an $86.7 million round that included Questlove, Matthew McConaughey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gal Gadot, Brie Larson, Steve Aoki, Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher, Eva Longoria, Paris Hilton, and Bruce Willis. The payments infrastructure company claims 10 million users.
Pantera Capital, a venture capital firm focused on the crypto space, announced during an investor call today that it has raised $1.3 billion for its Blockchain Fund, which will invest in Web3 startups, early-stage tokens, and digital tokens with established liquidity levels. It joins four other funds: Venture, Bitcoin, Early-Stage Token, and Liquid Token.
Bored & Hungry
Kevin Seo, Andy Nguyen, and Bored Ape community members opened a popup restaurant based on Bored Ape NFT #6184. The line to get in began forming early Sat., Apr. 9, and stretched down the block. Originally conceived as a pop-up, it will now be a permanent restaurant on 7th Street in Long Beach, CA.
Layer 1 blockchain network Near Protocol announced a $350 million round led by FTX Ventures, Dragonfly Capital, and others. This is on top of the $150 million Near raised in January. Launched in May 2020, Near offers a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, a scaling technology called “sharding,” and a unique block-producing implementation that boosts blockchain network throughput.
ESPN announced its first-ever NFT collection in partnership with Brady’s Autograph platform, an NFT startup he co-founded in 2021. Brady NFTs will be released via the DraftKings Marketplace, Autograph’s exclusive marketplace partner. Three magazine cover-style NFTs are priced from $100 to $500 each. All of the NFTs are minted on Polygon, a sidechain scaling solution for Ethereum.
Terra founder Do Kwon added $230 million in BTC to the Luna-LFG wallet, the TerraUSD (UST) Bitcoin reserve, which he aims to boost to $10 billion. The wallet currently holds 35,767.98 BTC worth $1.6 billion. Terra’s LUNA token set an all-time high of $119.18 on Apr. 5. Its $38 billion market cap makes it the seventh-largest coin.
Bored Ape Yacht Club
BAYC startup Yuga Labs had a busy month. On Mar. 16, its ApeCoin DOA launched ApeCoin with a market cap of $3.2 billion. On Mar. 19, BAYC announced the Otherside metaverse, which generated $561 million in Otherdeed NFT sales. Then on Mar. 22, Yuga Labs raised $450 million at a $4 billion valuation — going apeshit personified.
Ex-a16z VC Katie Haun launched her new solo project, Haun Ventures, raising $1.5 billion to invest in Web3 startups; $500 million is earmarked for early stage ventures while $1 billion is aimed at companies looking to speed up their growth. CNBC says it’s the “largest debut venture fund ever raised by a solo female founding partner.”
Ethereum scaling solution startup Optimism reached a $1.65 billion valuation after raising a $150 million Series B round. The Ethereum network is in high demand, mainly due to an explosion of DeFi, peer-to-peer lending, borrowing, and trading, plus NFTs — unique tokens that represent digital item ownership. This has resulted in high gas fees and network sluggishness.
Former presidential and New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang has a new act: a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) that plans to use its crypto treasury to reinvigorate American democracy. Lobby3 offers innovative new opportunities for citizens to influence the political process with two tiers aimed at individuals, with a contribution of either 0.07 or 1 ETH.
Curated is a new $30 million fund that plans to invest exclusively in high-value, blue-chip NFTs and thereby attract high-signal collectors who want to invest in culturally and historically significant assets. The fund is backed by some of the biggest names in the crypto and Web3 investment space, including Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon, and Alexis Ohanian.
Bain Capital Crypto
Bain Capital Ventures has launched a $560 million fund called Bain Capital Crypto focused exclusively on the crypto industry, “We’ve reached a quite high conviction that we are at the beginning of a multi-decade technology shift. That’s really what led to the addition of Bain Capital Crypto,” says Bain Capital Crypto managing partner Stefan Cohen.
Think $69 million is too much for a research company, albeit one with a devoted following, dubbed “Dune Wizards?” Think again. This is Web3 and data will rule the day. Particularly when it involves transparent blockchains and the finance market. Coatue led the $69.4 million Series B round, which values Oslo-based Dune at $1 billion.
The emerging world of Web3 is exploding but for many people, using common crypto tools like DeFi wallets and NFTs is a daunting and unfriendly experience. Co-Founder Jeff Morris, who used to be VP of Product at Tinder, says Chapter One is a different type of VC with a $50 million crypto fund focused on design.
Alchemy was born in a small loft in San Francisco in 2017. Mission: make blockchain development accessible with an off-the-shelf SDK (kit) to fast-track complex and costly tasks like debugging and writing to nodes on the Ethereum, Flow, Optimism, Polygon, and Arbitrum blockchains. Today, Alchemy raised a $250 million Series C round led by Andreessen Horowitz.