Crypto funding: A16z bets on blockchain infrastructure

The tech VC participated in rounds for two infrastructure projects that went through a16z’s crypto startup school this summer

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Suriyawut Suriya/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

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This week, venture fund a16z joined two crypto funding rounds. This follows recent reports from Axios indicating a delay in Andreessen’s upcoming crypto investment initiatives to 2025.

Both rounds centered on blockchain infrastructure ventures.

A16z led a $4.2 million seed round for Pimlico, an infrastructure product working to let wallet developers abstract away parts of the payment process. In a blog post announcing the raise, a16z general partner Sriram Krishnan said Pimlico CEO Kristof Gazso participated in the venture firm’s crypto startup school in Los Angeles. 

“By the end of Crypto Startup School, we were convinced that no one was better equipped to build the supporting infrastructure for account abstraction than Kristof,” Krishnan wrote.

The use of Pimlico’s form of account abstraction has increased for four straight months, according to data from 1confirmation general partner Richard Chen.

A16z also participated in a $5.5 million seed round for the developer tool Stackr. 

Stackr built a software development kit (SDK) to let developers build Web3 apps using general-programming languages — starting with JavaScript. Stackr lets developers create “micro-rollups,” the platform’s term for rollups that separate execution and proving. This design prioritizes ease of development over decentralization, adapting rollup technology to better suit developers’ needs.

The Stackr investment came from a16z’s 2023 crypto startup school.

These two investments mark a16z crypto’s return to backing blockchain infrastructure startups. Their last similar move was in LayerZero’s $120 million round in April, according to CryptoRank. Meanwhile, Lightspeed Faction announced its $285 million crypto venture fund this week, telling Blockworks that Faction is primarily interested in infrastructure and protocol level projects.

A16z did not return a request for comment. Other notable recent ventures from the megafund include a restaurant rewards app and a Web3 gaming studio

Read more: A16z eyes $3.4B raise for next venture funds: Axios

Decentralized AI project lands $25 million

The decentralized AI project Ritual secured $25 million in seed funding, Blockworks previously reported. The round was led by Archetype with participation from Accomplice and Robot Ventures.

In a blog post announcing the fundraise and the company, Ritual highlighted that the crypto space is already working to address key challenges for AI startups, such as centralized APIs, closed-source code and high computational costs.

Ritual hopes to launch its platform in early 2024 with a focus on letting AI preserve transparency and privacy. The project is advised by the founders of NEAR Protocol and Eigenlayer.

Ritual’s raise comes the same week as OpenAI’s DevDay conference and shortly after X debuted its own chatbot, Grok. 

Other notable fundraises

Updated Nov. 15, 2023 at 1:00 pm ET: Clarified that a16z’s Stackr investment was only through its crypto startup school.


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