- ConsenSys raised $450 million in a funding round backed by Microsoft, SoftBank and Temasek.
- The investment more than doubles ConsenSys’ valuation to $7 billion.
- Tech giants from Microsoft to Twitter are increasingly interested in Web3, a movement that calls for a more decentralized blockchain-based internet.
Blockchain startup ConsenSys raised $450 million in a new funding round that more than doubled its valuation to $7 billion.
ConsenSys, headquartered in New York, was founded in 2014 by Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin. Ethereum is the blockchain platform behind etherthe second largest cryptocurrency in the world.
While bitcoins is primarily used for transactions, Ethereum can be used to build decentralized applications, or dapps – think Facebook or TikTok, but on the block chain, a shared system of record for crypto transactions. ConsenSys develops software that runs on the Ethereum network.
This is a rare crypto-related bet from Microsoft. The company previously conducted a initial investment in Palm NFT Studioa start-up also co-founded by Lubin.
Microsoft’s involvement highlights the growing interest of the world’s biggest tech companies in Web3, a loosely defined term that refers to efforts to create a decentralized version of the internet based on blockchain technology.
It’s a term that has generated a lot of talk – and money – in Silicon Valley. Blockchain start-ups have raised a record $25 billion in venture capital global funding last year, according to data from CB Insights. Other tech giants exploring Web3 include Facebook-parent Meta and Twitter.
ConsenSys is seen by investors as one of the companies that will power Web3. It has benefited from a flood of investment in emerging crypto trends such as decentralized financeor DeFi, and non-fungible tokensalso called NFT.
The company’s most popular products include the MetaMask cryptocurrency wallet and Infura, a suite of tools that helps developers build Ethereum applications.
MetaMask allows users to store and manage their tokens through a web browser extension or mobile app. People can also access popular blockchain-powered apps like Uniswap and Axie Infinity. The bulk of ConsenSys’ revenue currently comes from the fees for trading various tokens on MetaMask.
MetaMask surpassed 30 million monthly active users in January, ConsenSys said, up 42% over the past four months. The United States, the Philippines, Brazil, Germany and Nigeria are its most active markets. Infura, meanwhile, is used by over 430,000 developers and recently surpassed $1 trillion in annualized transaction volumes.
ConsenSys said all profits from its latest cycle would be converted into ether. The funds will be used to hire 600 additional employees, redesign MetaMask slated for release later this year, and expand ConsenSys’ growing NFT business.
The Web3 hype
Just as Web3 generated a lot of hype, it also attracted notable critics, including tech billionaires Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey.
Dorsey dismissed Web3 as centralized technology owned by venture capitalists rather than the crypto community, while Musk says he thinks it’s more of a “buzzword” than reality.
For his part, Lubin does not see it that way.
“What may concern Jack is how a small number of VCs are grabbing the lion’s share of equity or tokens in many of the top projects,” the ConsenSys CEO said. “I’m not worried at all.”
“Decentralized protocol technology is anti-fragile, as is its global community,” Lubin added. “The community will interpret centralization as suboptimal and as an opportunity, and decentralize relentlessly.”
The crypto world has also been closely watching regulatory developments outside of the United States, after President Joe Biden issued an executive order calling for a coordinated government response to industry surveillance.
The U.S. government “has a big political decision to make,” Lubin said, adding that ConsenSys “is ready and willing to help policymakers any way we can.”
“Ultimately, permissionless blockchain networks are global, and they’re going to grow and change our daily lives, whether or not the United States is a leader,” he added.