If you read the first part of this 3-piece series, then we are both on the same page. But if you haven’t already, you can catch up with me here. In the previous piece, we followed smart money to a number of blockchain projects where 3 blockchain/web3-focused VCs—Coinbase Venture, Polychain Capital, and Multicoin Capital—are invested. Now, we focus on the major funding moves by Binance Labs, Andreesen Horowitz, and Fbric Ventures
IV. Binance Labs
Binance Labs, owned by Binance as the name suggests, “identifies, invests, and empowers viable blockchain entrepreneurs, startups, and communities, providing financing to industry projects that help grow the wider blockchain ecosystem”. It supports technical teams who execute fast projects that “positively impact the crypto space and build the decentralised web”. Binance Labs portfolio include Audius, Axie Infinity, Dune Analytics, Moonbeam, Swipe, Terra, Travala, Xend, and 1inch.
- GoPlus Security: GoPlus Security is a leading Web3 security-infrastructure provider that covers most of the major blockchain networks with multidimensional risk detection to build a safer Web3 environment. GoPlus Security has developed a real-time, dynamic, and automated security detection platform that covers token, NFT, malicious address, approval security, contract security, and dApp security. The value of the GoPlus raise hasn’t been confirmed for now but it’s something to be on the lookout for.
- Ambit Finance: Ambit Finance is a sustainable, comprehensive, and easy-to-use suite of fintech apps (“super-app”) that will incorporate lending, borrowing, and yield optimization strategies to further the utility of BUSD and DApps in the broader BNB Chain ecosystem. It will also serve as a launching pad for a “decentralized Binance” that will combine the useability of Binance with the latest innovations in DeFi. Ambit will enable new use cases for BNB Chain users with the creation of a yield-bearing BUSD-based stablecoin designed to provide sustainable yield throughout all market conditions. The project’s multi-phased roadmap will also see it deliver a DeFi Super app incorporating both existing DeFi functionalities like collateralized lending and innovative solutions for domains like under-collateralized margin lending and structured products for financial institutions. Ambit’s North Star will strive to provide the most unified user experience in all of Web3 and become a hub of DeFi activity. Ambit Finance raised $4.5m which was announced on the 2nd of December 2022.
- FrankieOne: FrankieOne is a developer of a single unified application programming interface platform designed to manage KYC, anti-money laundering, and fraud. The company’s platform offers identity verification, electronic KYC, anti-money laundering, fraud monitoring, and credit tools, enabling banks, FinTech, and other regulated entities to manage their regulatory compliance with a single API and dashboard. This will enable regulated entities to make better decisions and quickly and safely onboard more customers. FrankieOne raised $30m in Series A and Extended Series A which was announced on the 29th of November 2022.
- Ultimate Champions: Ultimate Champions is an entirely free-to-play fantasy football game with officially licensed digital cards hosted as NFTs on the blockchain. Ultimate Champion raised $4m which was announced 15 November 2022.
- Paragraph: Paragraph is a publishing platform that helps web3 writers, DAOs, and NFT communities monetize their content through an all-in-one newsletter service. Paragraph aims to challenge legacy publishing giants by offering web3 tools for content creation. Instead of paid subscriptions on a web2 newsletter platform such as Substack for example, Paragraph enables content creators and community builders to manage their audience through memberships using either NFTs or ERC-20 tokens. These memberships create new opportunities for engagement—whether that’s gating content with NFTs or rewarding token holders to incentivize growth. Creators can either leverage their own NFTs or ERC20 tokens or choose to mint directly on Paragraph for a 3% fee. Paragraph raised $1.7m which was announced 24 October 2022.
Total raise: $40.2m (excluding the undisclosed raise by GoPlus Security)
V. Andreesen Horowitz
A VC firm founded in Silicon Valley in 2009 by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, Andreessen Horowitz (known as ‘a16z’), a16z “backs bold entrepreneurs building the future through technology”. a16z invests in “seed to venture to late-stage technology companies, across bio + healthcare, consumer, crypto, enterprise, fintech, games, and companies building toward American dynamism”.
- Aztec: Aztec Network is a private ZK-rollup on Ethereum, enabling decentralized applications to access privacy and scale. Aztec’s rollup is secured by its industry-standard PLONK proving mechanism used by the leading zero-knowledge scaling projects. Aztec raised $100m which was announced 16 December 2022.
- Shibuya: NFT artist Emily Yang, aka Pplpleasr and Maciej Kuciara is bringing long-form animation to Web 3 through a new venture, Shibuya. Shibuya will crowdfund production of long-form visual content—short films, movies or television series—by selling non-fungible tokens (NFT) called ‘producer passes disrupting the traditional studio-driven methods that now dominate the industry. Shibuya raised $6.9m which was announced 8 December 2022.
- Roboto Games: Roboto Games aims to make free-to-play games that are playable across the web, mobile, and PC. It can be played with or without Web3 elements such as non-fungible tokens (NFT), in-game elements coded to prove their uniqueness, or regular tokens. There are also plans for a user-generated content (UGC) platform. Roboto raised $15m, announced 30 November 2022.
- Buildspace: Buildspace is a community and e-learning platform for developers that want to introduce themselves to web3 and crypto projects. You can join Buildspace for free. The community has several project-based courses both for beginners and advanced developers. For each project, you will be building a specific thing in order to learn different aspects of web3. All projects are free for now (although they have limited spots available), and they are constantly working on new projects to bring to the community. When you enroll in a project, you can participate in a live session with the instructor. In this session, you will be introduced to the course and do some live coding. This is the only synchronic meeting you will have for each project. After that, you can learn at your own pace. Each project will take you about 5-10 hours to complete, depending on your skill level. Buildspace raised $10m which was announced 11 November 2022.
Total raise: $131.9m
VI. Fabric Ventures
Fabric Ventures was founded in 2012. It is a VC that backs builders, businesses, and networks of the open economy from inception to scaling. Based in Luxembourg, Fabric Ventures seeks to invest in financial services, information technology, blockchain, cryptocurrency, SaaS, b2b payments, TMT, and FinTech sectors. Its portfolio includes Coinbase, Consensys, Liquid, Nansen, Near, YellowCard, and 1inch.
- Earn Alliance: Founded by Joseph Cooper in 2022, Hong Kong-based Earn Alliance exists to help steer gamers, communities, and games in their exploration of this exciting future through the use of online social communities. Earn Alliance understand that the complexities of the blockchain industry can deter people from exploring opportunities within the space. Earn Alliance want to dissolve those barriers through the use of community, education, and fun to help others unlock their potential. Earn Alliance raised $4.75m which was announced 8 December 2022.
- Homa: Homa develops technologies to empower game developers across the world, increasing efficiency through every step of the app production and publishing cycle. These technologies allow developers to dramatically increase their execution speed—most games are developed in only a few weeks as opposed to months before—and maximize their chance of success. Homa raised $100m which was announced 12 October 2022.
Total raise: $104.75m
This concludes the second part of the running series titled, ‘Following Smart Money with Gideon Ajose’.
In the next piece, which is the 3rd and final part, I will focus on the major funding rounds led by Blockchain Capital, Framework, and Jump.. By way of rounding off the series, I will share my closing thoughts of following smart money towards greatly increasing your chance of navigating today’s blockchain & crypto industry successfully.
Gideon Ajose is the Founder of Cyberville Academy; A digital school that teaches Crypto Trading and Investments. He authored the now popular post, To the Moon or to Goblin Town: Navigating the Murky Waters of the Crypto Space.