Monday Fund Day: Australia’s Iris Energy, Blockchain.com and Fantom lead our weekly crypto-funding wrap

The crypto bulls are predicting a big month ahead and it’s off to a good start… but who really knows for sure. You can take this to the bank, though – capital flow into the space is still gushing based on moves over the past seven days or so.

According to Pitchbook data, blockchain companies attracted a mammoth US$23.8 billion of venture capital funding in 2021 and have already raised US$5.6 billion in the first two months of 2022. March was pretty mega, too, so it’s already looking like a record year.

Here are some of the more notable funding moves from the past week…

 

Blockchain.com’s series D and a US$14 billion valuation

Last week, Blockchain.com raised an undisclosed amount in a Series D funding round that gives the firm a massive US$14 billion valuation.

This means the London-based crypto wallet provider and exchange has clocked incredible growth over the past two years. In March 2020, the company was valued at US$5.2 billion.

According to Bloomberg, the round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and UK-based independent investment manager Baillie Gifford.

Founded in 2011, Blockchain.com is one of the oldest and largest crypto companies and, according to its website, it has at least 37 million users and 82 million active wallets. The company also states that it’s been responsible for enabling more than one trillion USD in crypto transactions.

Blockchain.com has long been London based, but it’s now actually one of a number of companies withdrawing its application to operate under the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) guidelines.

These FCA enforcements are based round stringent, updated anti-money laundering controls. The company will now conduct business as a European entity via a Lithuanian registration.

 

Fantom and Gitcoin’s huge US$335m grants program

The Fantom layer 1 blockchain is boosting its ecosystem in a big way, through a new US$335 million incentives program in collaboration with Gitcoin Grants.

In a blog post last week, the Fantom Foundation made the announcement, noting that Gitcoin, an open-source “quadratic” funding platform has “an unprecedented track record of funding projects in the web3 space”.

Gitcoin’s quadratic funding enables matching contributions from its fund, which is largely sponsored by donors within the vast Ethereum ecosystem.

The Fantom Foundation’s aims for the funding include:

• Support for a wide variety of project types – from DeFi to gaming, to NFTs and critical infrastructure.

• The empowerment of the Fantom community through decentralised decision making.

• Better support for smaller teams and projects just started on the blockchain in order to target niche audiences.

 

Australia’s Iris Energy secures US$71m NYDIG loan

Iris Energy, a Sydney-based Bitcoin mining company listed on the Nasdaq (IREN), has raised US$71 million  in debt-issuance equipment financing from the institutional Bitcoin broker NYDIG (New York Digital Investment Group).

The company used 19,800 Bitmain S19j Pro miners to secure the loan, which has a 25-month term and an 11% per annum interest rate, according to a statement made early last week.

“This is our third equipment financing facility together [with NYDIG] and we look forward to formalising additional loan facilities as miners continue to be delivered and installed,” said Daniel Roberts, co-Founder and Co-CEO of Iris Energy.

Helium, LayerZero, Gumi, Wave Financial and more

Helium Inc, a pioneer of decentralised wireless communications and the company behind the growing Helium blockchain (HNT), has rebranded as Nova Labs and raised US$200 million in fresh capital.

The Series D round led by Tiger Global, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY) and others. This capital injection brings the California-based company’s valuation to US$1.2 billion. Another unicorn joins the fray.

LayerZero Labs, the developer of LayerZero – a decentralised “omnichain” interoperability protocol – has raised US$135 million in a new funding round.

The round was co-led by Sequoia Capital, FTX Ventures and a16z, according to a press release circulated last week, with participation from Coinbase Ventures, PayPal Ventures, Tiger Global, Uniswap Labs and other investors.

The funding will reportedly go towards new omnichain developments as LayerZero also accelerates the development of cross-chain decentralised applications.

• Gumi Cryptos Capital (gCC), a blockchain-focused VC firm based in Silicon Valley, USA as well as Japan, has announced its second big crypto-investment fund, worth US$110 million.

The firm’s initial fund was US$21 million backed by various seed-stage founders, which invested in notable projects including  NFT platform OpenSea, Yield Guid Gaming, crypto-lending firm Celsius Network and others.

The venture capitalists will reportedly be using its Fund II to focus on early-stage startups in DeFi, GameFi and web3 more generally.

• Wave Financial, a US SEC-regulated digital asset management firm, has announced it’s launching a US$100 million fund that seeks to boost DeFi growth on the Cardano blockchain.

Dubbed the “Wave ADA Yield Fund”, the initiative’s capital will provide liquidity and other resources to decentralised exchanges, lending protocols and stablecoin issuers developing on Cardano, according to an official blog post.

Fractal, a Solana-based gaming NFT marketplace founded by Twitch co-founder Justin Kan, announced a US$35 million seed round late last week.

The fresh capital splurge was led by Paradigm and Multicoin Capital. Other investors included Andreessen Horowitz, Solana Labs, Animoca Brands, Coinbase Ventures and Terraform Labs CEO Do Kwon, among others.

 

 

 

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