Funding Wrap: Bitcoin, Ethereum-based projects see fresh capital

Plus, a DeFi platform turned down venture capital backing in favor of “aligned” investors

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JazK2/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

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Developers working with the two largest cryptocurrencies capitalized on early bull market intrigue.

Recently, there has been a notable increase in funding interest towards bitcoin mining companies. However, this week’s most substantial investment influx was directed at projects developing practical applications for the cryptocurrency.

In a parallel trend, various projects focused on scaling Ethereum have also secured considerable support recently. This surge in investment comes as the network gears up for its anticipated Dencun upgrade, scheduled for next year.

Babylon raised $18 million in a Series A led by Polychain and Hack VC. The company focuses on a unique protocol that allows Bitcoin to be used for staking in proof-of-stake networks. It offers a secure way for bitcoin holders to earn yields without needing third-party trust or bridging to other chains.

Read more: Core devs rule out Dencun fork this year

Elsewhere, MAP Protocol, a layer-2 chain built on Bitcoin, announced a strategic investment from Waterdrip Capital. MAP is a Bitcoin layer-2 solution that seeks to enhance cross-chain interoperability. It enables seamless interaction between Bitcoin and other public blockchain networks, ensuring secure and efficient transactions across different platforms.

Bitcoin investment firm Swan Bitcoin said Thursday that it raised and spent $205 million in 2023 via its equity, credit and hedge funds. The company also said it plans to raise an additional $150 million as it builds out an institutional offering. 

Read more: Institutional custody of bitcoin could kill it, cautions Hayes

On the Ethereum side, Paradigm led a $9 million seed round in on-chain data platform Shadow. The engineering company streamlines on-chain data access by enabling efficient retrieval from contracts and transactions, and optimizing indexing. Its approach of moving event logs to shadow forks reduces gas costs and contract sizes, offering a cost-effective solution for blockchain data management.

Ten announced a $7.5 million raise for its encryption-focused layer-2, while another startup named Versatus said it closed a $2.3 million seed round for its “stateless” Ethereum rollup.

DeFi platform shunts VC backing in favor of ‘aligned’ investors

Lending and borrowing app Curvance closed a $3.6 million seed round this week that was noticeably thin on venture capital investment. The protocol mostly raised funds from a group of DeFi and DAO actors, including Offchain Labs and Wormhole. 

The platform’s co-founder Chris Carapola said Curvance capped investment in the token sale at $250,000 per party and hopes to soon turn governance over to a DAO. By capping token sale investments, Carapola suggested Curvance was trying to prevent major voting inequality within the DAO.

Curvance drew interest from venture capital, Carapola said, but decided to primarily raise funds from actors in its ecosystem instead, taking over a year to do so.

“I would say the consistent thing that we saw was, ‘This sounds amazing. How much can we get, and can you increase the round, can we play with the [valuation], do you want to do a Series A,’ like the more conventional route. And as soon as that really became the topic, it was like, ‘you know you’re not aligned, right?’” Carapola said. 

Curvance raised its seed round at a $56 million valuation and its private round at a $75 million valuation, Carapola said.

Other notable fundraises

  • Animoca Brands raised an $11.8 million funding tranche to develop its Mocaverse “Frequent Player Program” with participation from Block1, OKX Ventures, Foresight Ventures, Polygon Ventures, Dapper Labs and others.
  • Web3 music streaming platform Sona raised $6.9 million from Polychain Capital, Haun Ventures and Rogue Capital.

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