Ether.fi announces $23M Series A round as restaking interest grows

The liquid restaking token’s TVL shot up over 200% in the past month

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Ethereum liquid restaking token provider ether.fi has raised $23 million in Series A funding. 

The round was led by Bullish Capital and CoinFund, with OKX Ventures, Foresight Ventures and Consensys among the participants, alongside founders and executives from DeFi venues like Aave and Curve, among others.  

The team also said Wednesday that it raised an additional $4 million in a SAFE round late last year. 

Ether.fi’s liquid restaking token (LRT) both earns staking yield and EigenLayer points while remaining usable in other DeFi protocols.

The firm’s LRT tries to solve a fundamental liquidity problem in the trendy area of Ethereum restaking. The raft of protocols offering LRTs, including ether.fi, have seen billions of dollars worth of deposits in the past couple months.

Soon after Ethereum began paying shares of network revenue to stakers who locked up their ether, liquid staking protocols created tokens that both earned staking yield and could be traded or used in DeFi applications. EigenLayer is pioneering a protocol where these staked ether are “restaked” and can be used to secure other blockchains and services. However, when EigenLayer launched ether deposited for staking became illiquid. 

Ether.fi and others, such as Swell Networks, Kelp DAO and Renzo Protocol, aim to address this by creating a tokenized version of restaked ether that further extends the value accrual created by Ethereum’s proof-of-stake consensus layer.

In the case of ether.fi, that’s called eETH.

Read more: Ether.Fi steps closer to liquid restaked token for EigenLayer

Restaking appears to have won over the interest of investors. Ether.fi’s round comes on the heels of Andreessen Horowitz’s $100 million investment in EigenLayer, the restaking protocol on which ether.fi is built. 

Read more: A16z injects $100M into EigenLayer

“At least 20%” of ether.fi deposits are “institutional long-term holders,” ether.fi founder Mike Silagadze told Blockworks, adding that this estimate is based on long-term agreements that include lockups, so the actual number may be higher — the protocol is permissionless.

CoinFund partner Evan Feng told Blockworks his firm’s decision to co-lead ether.fi’s round “was driven by the combination of proven market leadership and traction, tech differentiation, and an experienced team with a history of successful building.”

Feng added that CoinFund does not invest in projects directly competing with its portfolio, so ether.fi will be its only liquid restaking investment. 

Ether.fi is one out of several protocols offering liquid restaking tokens. While there are a slew of protocols offering liquid staking tokens today, Lido controls more than 80% of the LST market.

Depositing to ether.fi was one of the only ways to access EigenLayer in between periods where it allowed deposits of LSTs, since solo stakers like ether.fi were exempt from its deposit caps.

To try and woo restakers, LRT providers have been offering community points, or valueless IOUs that may represent a claim on a future token. Ether.fi, Puffer, Renzo, KelpDAO, and Eigenpie all offer points — which DeFi users are leveraging on Pendle Finance and trading on Whales Market.  

“[P]oints are a way to give users feedback about the most valuable actions they can be taking on the protocol. This includes staking, as well as providing liquidity, using eETH as collateral and more,” Silagadze said in an email. 

Silagadze added that the protocol’s token generation event (TGE) is planned for April. 

The points model has proven successful in user acquisition. The total value locked (TVL) on LRT protocols grew from under $100 million in mid-December to over $4.5 billion at the time of publication, according to DeFiLlama. 

Ether.fi was the largest LRT provider with $1.64 billion in TVL, an increase of over 200% over the past month. It now represents over 4% of all liquid staked ether, according to the Hildobby Dune Analytics dashboard, putting it in third place behind Lido and Rocket Pool.


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