Near Protocol has become the darling of heavyweight venture capitalists in the Layer 1 race.
On April 6, the high-speed Layer 1 network announced it had raised $350M in a round led by Tiger Global, the venture fund led by billionaire financier Chase Coleman. FTX Ventures, Blockchange Ventures, and Dragonfly Capital, also joined the raise.
Combined with its previous investment round in January, Near has now raised half a billion dollars this year so far. The previous round was led by Three Arrows Capital, with Alameda, A16z, and others also backing the protocol. Near has not disclosed its valuation.
Near is a high throughput network supporting smart contract execution. It seeks to rival the likes of Ethereum and other low-cost Layer 1s such as Solana and Avalanche. In addition to fast and cheap transaction execution on its own Layer 1, Near also offers EVM compatibility through its sister-chain, Aurora.
The protocol also claims to be the world’s first truly sharded network, with four shards currently live.
Near has a Total Value Locked (TVL) of $315.5M across five DeFi projects, excluding dApps launched on Aurora, according to Defi Llama. Near’s bridge to Ethereum, called Rainbow, represents a TVL of more than $1.5B. Dune Analytics data ranks Rainbow as Ethereum’s fifth-largest bridge.
The NEAR token is up 83% in six weeks, last trading hands for $15.6 according to CoinGecko. It is also the 19th largest crypto asset with a market cap of $10.5B.
In a statement, Ken Seiff, general partner at Blockchange Ventures, said the quality of DeFi developers building in the Near ecosystem prompted Blockchange to double down on its investment in the protocol.
Near stated that the funds raised in its latest round have been earmarked to support growth via “regional hubs in key community centers across the globe”.
The news comes two days after the launch of Near Nordic, a web3 startup accelerator based in Scandinavia. Near Nordic was developed by Taylor Ryan, a council member of Near’s Marketing DAO.
Near Nordic aims to foster Near-based Web3 businesses through its 12-week accelerator program. The project is supported by Layer Three Ventures, and has partnered with universities and enterprises in the Scandinavian region.
The raise also follows significant growth for Near’s sister chain, Aurora. The Aurora network allows Ethereum developers to launch Solidity-based code and forks on Near. Aurora’s locked value has more than doubled since the start of March and currently sits at $818.6M.
The DAO behind Aurora’s second-largest protocol, the Trisolaris decentralized exchange, also announced a $4.5M funding round led by Electric Capital on April 4. Trisolaris boasts a total value locked (TVL) of $242.2M.
Near launched on mainnet in October 2020 and has since attracted more than 300 dapps and hosted more than 100M transactions. The team estimates it has the sixth-largest developer community.
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