Author: Wu Shuozuo | defioasis
Editor: Colin Wu
Note: This article is for information sharing only and does not endorse the mentioned projects or have any interests related to them.
Following the announcement of the top ten focus areas by the cryptocurrency venture LianGuairadigm, Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong also tweeted to share his top ten favored cryptocurrency entrepreneurial tracks: Flatcoin (a stablecoin aimed at combating inflation and tied to the cost of living); Onchain Reputation; Onchain Ads; Onchain Capital Formation; Job/Task Marketplace (decentralized labor market); Layer 2 Privacy; Full-Chain P2P Exchange; Full-Chain Games; RWA (tokenization of real-world assets); Launch and management tools for network countries.
The areas of interest that Coinbase, represented by Brian Armstrong, focuses on are not only different from those of LianGuairadigm but also more niche and early-stage in certain areas. Ari LianGuaiul, founder of cryptocurrency venture BlockTower Capital, has expressed different opinions on the areas of interest that Brian Armstrong focuses on. For example, he believes that onchain reputation is a dead end for at least the next five years, Job/Task Marketplace is not significantly related to cryptocurrencies, and the investment in full-chain P2P exchanges is insufficient, resulting in an unfair market return.
Of course, different perspectives lead to different opinions. As both a leading cryptocurrency exchange and the owner of top venture capital firm Coinbase Ventures, and as a compliant publicly listed company, Brian Armstrong’s ideas may be more practical, and his views may lean towards weighing the pros and cons of Web2 and Web3. Onchain reputation, onchain ads, and decentralized labor markets are examples of moving offline products onto the blockchain.
This article will take a multi-dimensional approach, including project progress, financing, onchain data, and social attention, to inventory the top ten key areas of interest for Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong. Priority will be given to projects that Coinbase Ventures invests in. It is important to note that due to the early stage of some tracks and the limited number of projects, there is considerable uncertainty, so investors need to continuously track and exercise caution.
A decentralized stablecoin tied to the cost of living, aiming to combat inflation and maintain purchasing power by tracking the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Nuon Finance is a decentralized stablecoin DeFi protocol built on Arbitrum. Its stablecoin NUON claims to be the first decentralized flatcoin. The price of NUON is anchored to the inflation rate, protecting holders from value loss caused by inflation. The daily inflation level pinned by NUON is measured by an independent inflation index predictor called Truflation. Truflation calculates the pinned exchange rate of NUON daily and shares it with the Nuon Finance protocol. The Nuon protocol uses overcollateralization and arbitrage to maintain the pinned exchange rate and offset inflation for NUON flatcoin holders. The Nuon treasury charges fees for collateral deposits/withdrawals and NUON minting/burning. In addition to NUON, Nuon Finance plans to launch nuMINT, which will be used for protocol governance participation and capturing platform fees. Nuon Finance also plans to launch Nuon Oil currency pegged to the value of oil prices and a basket of commodities in the fourth quarter of this year.
As of September 1st, on-chain data shows that the current total supply of NUON is 118,000, held by 462 holders, with a total of 2,469 transactions completed, indicating limited development.
Nuon Finance has not disclosed any financing news and completed an audit by Coinfabrik in September 2022. Truflation, an important price data provider for Nuon, completed a seed round of financing by Fundamental Labs, C² Ventures, Balaji Srinivasan, and IBA on May 17, 2022, with an unknown amount.
Ampleforth – SPOT Protocol
SPOT is a decentralized flatcoin envisioned and launched by the DeFi protocol Ampleforth Foundation in 2022, using senior AMPL tranches as collateral. Essentially, SPOT is an algorithmic stablecoin with AMPL zero-coupon bonds as collateral. While AMPL serves as the underlying collateral for SPOT, using AMPL as collateral would result in significant collateral volatility due to rebase. To wrap the volatility of assets in the form of bonds, ButtonWood is used to collateralize AMPL and mint Senior and Junior AMPL tranches. Senior AMPL tranches represent the lowest-risk bonds and have priority payment rights as collateral for SPOT, while Junior AMPL tranches bear the high volatility of AMPL and also benefit from the appreciation of AMPL’s value. In addition, to enable free trading of Senior AMPL tranches, SPOT introduces incentive mechanism Rotators.
As of September 1st, according to on-chain data, the current total supply of SPOT is 766,000, with a spot price of $1.13.
Ampleforth completed $9.8 million in financing through VC and public offerings in 2018 and 2019, with participants including LianGuaintera Capital and Huobi Ventures.
Ampleforth is open source and completed a Certik audit in 2020.
Galex is a Web3 data credential and reputation network. Users can contribute to Galex’s credential data network, and when the credentials are used in Galex’s application modules, credential oracle engine, and credential API, users will be rewarded when they pay to use data in the Galex ecosystem. According to official claims, there are already more than 2,100 partners who have launched over 10,000 activities on Galex. The Galxe Credentials build a Web 3 DID system called Galxe ID, providing users with multi-chain identities and allowing them to understand users through past achievements and credentials.
In January 2022, Galex completed a $10 million financing round led by Multicoin Capital and Dragonfly Capital, with participants including Coinbase Ventures and Solana Ventures.
The vision of zkMe is to build a zk-credential layer for Web3, providing on-chain anonymous user verification. With the SSI mobile application developed by zkMe, users can encrypt and anonymize their data and use ZKP to prove statements on their own devices. This allows users to have full control over their digital identities and selectively disclose their reputation credentials to authorized parties without compromising their privacy.
zkMe completed a $2 million seed funding round in May this year, with investments from Circle Venture, Fenbushi Capital, NGC Ventures, and others.
Spindl is a Web3 measurement and attribution platform that helps identify the source of users and what they have done on-chain protocols to determine whether users generate protocol revenue and the cost of acquiring users. Through attribution, such as from Discord posts to wallet logins, to the behavior of certain on-chain (or off-chain) users, the user group gradually narrows down. If the project knows how to monetize at the “bottom of the funnel” of the user experience and knows the specific cost of attracting users (through paid media such as advertising, blog posts, etc.), then the project can calculate the “ROAS” of the advertising cost return on investment. If the return on investment is greater than 1, it means that the marketing expenditure is worthwhile, and vice versa.
Spindl completed a $7 million financing round in October 2022, led by Dragonfly’s Ani LianGuaii and Chapter One’s Jeff Morris Jr. Other investors include Multicoin Capital, Polygon Ventures, and Solana Ventures.
HypeLab is a Web3 advertising network that provides one-stop advertising materials such as images and videos and uploads them directly to the self-service advertiser portal; it provides on-chain and off-chain services based on user data labels; and tracks advertising effects in real-time, such as traffic brought to the project, countries/regions, and asset segmentation.
HypeLab completed a $4 million financing round in August this year, led by Shima Capital and Makers Fund. Other investors include Coinbase Ventures and OP Crypto.
Onchain Capital Formation
Onchain Capital Deployment
Syndicate is a decentralized investment protocol and social network that includes Investment Clubs and Collectives modules, enabling communities to raise and invest capital in a simpler form. However, on June 22 this year, Syndicate temporarily suspended support for the frontend of Investment Clubs and Collectives. It stated that in the new era of the Internet where the potential of on-chain communities, organizations, and economies is fully realized, Syndicate’s infrastructure and protocol can meet greater demand, and its cooperation with Web3 projects in the past two years has brought more new discoveries and possibilities. As one of the largest investment DAOs in the past, Syndicate has not yet shown more about its future direction.
Syndicate has accumulated $27.8 million in financing in 2021 and 2022, with investors including Coinbase Ventures, a16z, Circle Ventures, and Polygon Ventures.
Commonwealth is an integrated platform for governance discussions, voting, and crowdfunding for on-chain communities, including project funding, community donations, and token launches.
Commonwealth has raised a total of $23.2 million in financing in 2021 and 2022, with investors including Coinbase Ventures, HashKey Capital, and Jump Crypto.
Decentralized Labor Market
Braintrust claims to be the world’s first decentralized talent network on Web3, connecting vetted knowledge workers with businesses. Braintrust charges a fee of 15%, which is 80% less than traditional contracting agencies and 40% less than direct hiring agencies. Braintrust also introduced BTRST as a reward for the community to build a decentralized talent network, inviting and vetting talent, and recommending clients.
Braintrust has raised a total of $124 million in funding in 2020 and 2021, with investors including Coinbase Ventures, Tiger Global, Multicoin Capital, and HashKey Capital.
TalentLayer is a protocol and development toolkit that can be combined with Lens Protocol to build interoperable recruiting and service platforms. The core toolkit includes on-chain jobs and proposals, identity and review tied to the soul, configurable escrow such as milestone bonuses and hourly wages, dispute resolution solutions managed by decentralized platforms, and configurable fee systems for charging escrow transactions, job postings, proposal submissions, and dispute resolutions.
TalentLayer is still in its early stages and has not received any funding yet.
Layer 2 Privacy
As the first privacy rollup, Aztec shut down Aztec Connect after March this year. In May, Aztec announced a brand new trustless, scalable, and decentralized L2 zkRollup that combines programmable anonymity, data privacy, and confidential contracts to protect user data. Aztec expects to launch a local testnet for developers in the third quarter of this year and open a mature public testnet for users before the beginning of 2024.
Aztec has raised a total of $119 million in funding from 2018 to 2022, with investors including Coinbase Ventures, LianGuairadigm, a16z, IOSG, HashKey Capital, and Fenbushi Capital.
Zecrey is an L2 protocol based on zkRollup that offers privacy and scalability. Zecrey provides wallets that support both L1 and Zecrey native L2 and embeds two different but similar L2 systems, Zecrey Zero focusing on privacy features and Zecrey Legend focusing on NFT issuance and NFT markets. Zecrey Zero is a lightweight, privacy-driven portable payment solution that enables users to easily conduct private transfers and exchange transactions.
Zecrey has raised a total of $11.5 million in funding in 2021 and 2022, with investors including Binance Labs, Fenbushi Capital, and Shima Capital.
Full-chain P2P Exchange
Connecting off-chain and on-chain trading needs. It is challenging in practice, such as off-ramp withdrawals, involving custody and whether they are physical assets, etc.
Onboard Wallet is a Web3 wallet launched by Nigerian cryptocurrency company Nestcoin, founded by former Binance Labs Africa director Bademosi. Bademosi also launched the African crypto exchange Bundle Africa. Unlike conventional crypto wallets, Onboard Wallet is accessed via email, without mnemonic phrases, and features secure key management and multi-factor authentication. By using the Onboard virtual card, users can make cryptocurrency payments online or in-store in over 160 countries/regions. Additionally, Onboard also allows merchants to join the P2P marketplace for instant transactions using cryptocurrencies and convert them into fiat currencies. Currently, Onboard is integrating with the African exchange Bundle Africa.
Nestcoin completed a $6.45 million seed round of funding in January 2022, with investments from HaskKey Capital and CMT Digital.
Azra Games: Project Legends
Azra Games is a blockchain gaming company focused on blockchain RPG games. It was founded and led by industry veteran Mark Otero, whose mobile game “Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes” broke Electronic Art’s highest revenue record. Azra Games is currently developing Mark’s ninth RPG game: Project Legends. Azra has launched a Play Pass NFT that unlocks private Discord, early access, exclusive invitations, and airdrops.
Azra has raised a total of $25 million in funding between 2022 and 2023, with investors including Coinbase Ventures, a16z, and Franklin Templeton.
Horizon Blockchain Games: Skyweaver
Horizon Blockchain Games is a game-focused blockchain infrastructure company. It has launched an integrated developer platform and smart wallet solution called Sequence for Web3 games and applications. It has also released a Web3 free-to-play collectible card game called Skyweaver, which features 15 hero cards, 5 prisms (similar to talents), and 27 major tribal factions.
Horizon Blockchain Games has raised a total of $53.25 million in funding between 2020 and 2022, with investors including Coinbase Ventures, Polygon Ventures, and CMT Digital.
Tokenization of Real-World Assets
Goldfinch is a decentralized credit protocol that generates revenue from real-world loans. Investments are collateralized off-chain. For example, the Goldfinch Senior Pool with $77 million provides an 8% yield for USDC. Borrowers come from over 25 countries and cover asset financing, small business loans, and consumer loans. All transactions are protected by a 20-25% first-loss capital protection, with a total loss rate of 2.19%. Currently, Goldfinch has over $100 million in effective loan value and generates $100,000 in daily protocol revenue.
Goldfinch has raised a total of $37 million in funding between 2021 and 2022, with investors including Coinbase Ventures, a16z, Dragonfly, and BlockTower Capital. Additionally, Goldfinch has completed external audits by Certik and Trail of Bits, as well as internal audits by Warbler Labs.
MoHash is a crypto asset management company that provides global liquidity for investors in real-world products on-chain. It aims to achieve higher returns by developing a high-growth private debt market with high alpha, with maturities ranging from 6 months to 3 years. With a base return of 6-10% plus rewards for early adopters, MoHash expects to provide investors with up to 20% returns.
MoHash completed a $6 million seed round of funding led by Sequoia Capital India and Quona Capital in June 2022, with participation from Coinbase Ventures, Jump Crypto, and Hashed Ventures, among others.
Start-up and management tools for network countries
The concept of network countries, proposed by Balaji Srinivasan, refers to a network community with highly cohesive collective action. It raises funds globally and eventually obtains recognition as a political entity.
Vitalik refers to Zuzalu as an IRL town that combines cryptocurrencies, life sciences, and philosophy. Zuzalu applies blockchain technology to urban governance and operations, such as using stablecoins to track government internal financial systems, urbanization tokens, and government-issued certificates/passports on the blockchain.