VC Roundup: ZK proofs, DeFi protocol and longevity DAO attract investment
Venture capital deals slowed in the second half of 2022 amid the bear market. However, behind the scenes, blockchain startups continue to build.
2023 is off to a tepid start for crypto venture capital, as the industry continues to emerge from a prolonged bear market. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t deals. In January, Cointelegraph reported a $125 million raise from Blockstream, a $60 million allocation to QuickNode and pair of ecosystem funds from Injective and SSV worth $150 million and $50 million, respectively.
The latest edition of VC Roundup brings you seven smaller venture deals that may have slipped through the cracks.
Related: Venture capital investments into blockchain continue to free-fall: Report
=nil; Foundation closes $22M fundraise
In January, Polygon Capital led a $22 million funding round for =nil; Foundation, an Ethereum development company focused on zero-knowledge (ZK) proofs. The capital raise valued =nil; Foundation at $220 million and will be used to help the firm expand its ZK proofs marketplace. The company’s Proof Market is a data accessibility protocol that enables layer-1 and layer-2 blockchains to generate ZK proofs on demand without relying on centralized intermediaries. Proof Market has been developed to provide secure data transfer between Ethereum and public protocols, according to =nil; Foundation co-founder Konstantin Lomashuk.
Related: Top crypto funding stories of 2022
Ethereum infrastructure provider Blocknative raises $15M
Web3 infrastructure company Blocknative has raised $15 million to support its continued growth in the Ethereum and public blockchain marketplace. The company, which provides real-time transaction monitoring that enables validators to optimize staking rewards, is positioning itself as a block builder for post-Merge Ethereum. The funding round involved several venture firms, including Blockchain Capital, Foundry Group, Fenbushi Capital, Hack VC and IOSG Ventures. Blocknative has raised $34 million in cumulative funding to date.
#Web3 took center stage in 2022, with 616 individual deals, by far the most.#CeFi, the least popular sector, only closed 201 deals.
Despite this, CeFi received the same amount of VC funding as Web3, with roughly three times the investment per deal! https://t.co/fYTCURUvaX pic.twitter.com/WfNsrsVz1A
— Cointelegraph Research (@CointelegraphCS) January 27, 2023
Web3 startup Nillion raises $20 million
Web3 infrastructure platform Nillion closed a strategic funding round valued at $20 million as part of its ongoing efforts to promote decentralization without blockchain technology. Over 150 investors participated in the round, including Big Brain Holdings, Chapter One, GSR, Hashkey and SALT Fund. Nillion’s founding team includes former executives of Uber, Hedera Hashgraph and Indiegogo. The company has also recruited executives formerly of Coinbase and Nike. While Nillion promotes decentralization without blockchains, its technology offers a multi-chain wallet compatible with existing blockchains.
Hack VC leads Archimedes’ $4.9M seed round
Decentralized finance (DeFi) lending marketplace Archimedes launched in February with a $4.9 million seed round backed by venture firms Hack VC, Uncorrelated Venture, Psalion, Truffle Ventures and others. Archimedes’ marketplace uses nonfungible tokens to facilitate borrowing and lending, where leverage takers receive an NFT representing a yield-generating stablecoin. The platform provides leverage up to 10 times the principal collateral amount.
The DeFi sector held up to scrutiny during the centralized finance contagion of 2022. As reported by Cointelegraph, DeFi filled an important credit gap for the market in the wake of CeFi’s apparent failures.
Related: DeFi’s Next Big Thing: Liquid Staking Derivatives
Ethos Wallet receives venture backing
Sui Blockchain’s Ethos Wallet closed a $4.2 million seed round in January led by Boldstart Ventures and gumi Cryptos Capital. Ethos is a digital wallet that allows users to store their crypto and NFTs using a Chrome extension. The wallet also provides access to decentralized applications on the Sui blockchain, which was founded by Mysten Labs. In 2022, Mysten Labs raised $300 million in support of Sui, with backers that included Coinbase Ventures, Jump Crypto, Andreessen Horowitz and the now-defunct FTX Ventures.
The #crypto Venture Capital database available on the #ResearchTerminal has not only the amounts and dates of each individual deal but also detailed data about investment funds such as their #AUM, founders, and portfolios: https://t.co/78pvKoz2rg
Updated weekly! @Cointelegraph pic.twitter.com/t4mPqNurox
— Cointelegraph Research (@CointelegraphCS) June 6, 2022
VitaDAO raises $4.1M
The market for decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs, appears to be ramping up amid new use cases for the novel entity structure. In January, the longevity science research organization VitaDAO raised $4.1 million from contributors such as Pfizer Ventures, Shine Capital, L1 Digital and Web3-natives Beaker DAO and Spaceship DAO. VitaDAO said the capital raisewould fund longevity research and spin off a new biotechnology startup later this quarter. The funds will also be used to promote the commercialization and licensing of VitaDAO’s IP-NFT assets, which are NFTs representing intellectual property and patents to therapeutic research projects.
Hyper Oracle closes pre-seed funding backed by Sequoia China
Hyper Oracle, another ZK-focused company, has raised $3 million in a pre-seed funding round led by Sequoia China and Dao5. The company has developed blockchain indexing and automation protocols for integrating ZK-proof systems — something Hyper Oracle says will make middleware run faster and more securely. Hyper Oracle will use the funding to expand its research and development and hire additional personnel.