VC Roundup: AI-blockchain solutions winning investors’ hearts

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The first quarter of 2024 is drawing to a close with signs of improved sentiment surrounding cryptocurrencies thanks to the launch of Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in January. 

The favorable market dynamics could boost venture capital investment after a long winter. In 2023, venture capital firms in crypto and blockchain raised $5.75 billion across 58 funds, down from 2022’s record year of $37.7 billion across 262 funds, according to a report from Galaxy Digital.

The first signs of recovery came in the last quarter of 2023, when venture funding reached $1.9 billion, up 2.5% from the previous quarter — the first time venture capital investments in crypto startups have grown since early 2022.

Attracting investors is the growing development of solutions combining artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies, as well as products targeting institutional investors joining the crypto space.

Cointelegraph’s VC Roundup features startups that raised capital in the first few weeks of March.

Utila secures $11.5M seed funding for institutional wallet

Enterprise-focused wallet provider Utila had secured $11.5 million in seed funding from NFX, Wing VC, and Framework Ventures, along with angel investors Balaji Srinivasan, Charlie Songhurst and Surojit Chatterjee. The startup offers a self-custody wallet platform for institutional investors across a range of chains, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Solana. Over $3 billion has been transacted on the platform in the past six months, according to Utila. Among the startup clients are hedge funds, OTC desks, market makers, brokers, and token issuers. Other investors in the company include Fansanara Digital Ventures, North Island Ventures, Republic Capital, Liquid2, Inspired Capital, Lyrik Ventures, DCG Expeditions, Launchpad Capital, and Shima Capita, among others.

Synnax raises $1M in pre-seed funding for digital assets credit intelligence

Synnax has secured a $1 million pre-seed funding round for a credit intelligence platform focused on rating standards in the digital asset industry. The funding round was led by No Limit Holdings. The capital injection is earmarked for the development of Synnax’s platform, aimed at establishing an unbiased credit rating standard that will assist the transition from the conventional private credit market to blockchain technology. The startup, founded in Dubai, uses decentralized artificial intelligence models to address the shortcomings of current credit rating systems, such as transparency and bias. The round was also supported by global investors Edessa Capital, Kenetic Capital, Bitscale, Ryze Capital, MH Ventures, Hex Trust, Moonvault, GameFi Ventures, Typhon Ventures, Ausvic Capital, Drops Ventures, and Everstake Ventures.

Hex Trust proudly supports @SynnaxTech, a leading pioneer in AI-driven credit ratings for the digital asset industry in their $1m Pre-Seed round

Synnax’s innovative approach is transforming credit markets with transparency and efficiency.

Learn more:

— Hex Trust (@Hex_Trust) March 7, 2024

Sahara raises $6M seed round for decentralized AI network

Sahara raised a $6 million seed funding round led by Polychain Capital and joined by Samsung Next, Matrix Partners, Motherson Group, dao5, Geekcartel, and Canonical Crypto, among others, including Polygon’s Sandeep Nailwal as angel investor. The startup, focused on developing a decentralized AI network, facilitates the creation of autonomous Knowledge Agents (KAs), which can autonomously analyze external and internal proprietary data. It also offers data services for AI model training focusing on privacy and security. The funds will support the growth of additional Sahara ecosystem components such as Sahara Vault, Sahara ID, and Sahara Network, said the startup led by Sean Ren, a Professor at the University of Southern California, and Tyler Zhou, previous Investment Director at Binance Labs.

TON Foundation receives $8M funding from Mirana Ventures

Mirana Ventures has purchased $8 million worth of Toncoin, the native token of The Open Network (TON), a blockchain project founded by Telegram’s team in 2019. The investment is part of a partnership between the TON Foundation, Bybit, and the Mantle Network. Bybit has been incorporating Toncoin into its offerings, including rewards for staking and cashback. The initiative resulted in over $22 million in trading volume, according to the TON Foundation. Meanwhile, TON Space, Telegram’s self-custodial wallet, is connecting its users with Mantle Network through the integration of TON-based MNT tokens. The funds will be used to support the development of the community and projects. Telegram has over 900 million monthly active users.

UXLINK closes $10M funding round for Web3 social media

Web3 social platform UXLINK secured nearly $10 million in funding from a number of investors, including OKX Ventures, Web3Port Foundation, and several others, spanning across North America, Asia, and the Middle East. UXLINK is a new kind of social network platform. Unlike traditional social media that mainly focus on one-way interactions, like following someone without mutual connection, UXLINK emphasizes two-way, friendship-like connections. Some of its features include a social decentralized exchange for digital assets trading and a reward module for users participating and contributing to the platform. According to UXLINK, over 3.5 million verified users and 75,000 decentralized groups have joined the service since its launch in April 2023.

TEN raises $9M from banking consortium R3

Ethereum layer 2 network TEN has raised $9 million in a funding round led by banking consortium R3 with additional backing from Republic Crypto, KuCoin Labs, Big Brain Capital, DWF Labs, and Magnus Capital. The platform, developed by Obscuro Labs, combines optimistic rollups and zero knowledge rollups, offering an encrypted layer 2 for developers. The team is working on customizable privacy levels in smart contracts that will allow developers to choose which parts of a smart contract to make private and which parts to make public. TEN, currently on testnet, is set to be released on the mainnet in October, with features like programmable encryption, immediate bridges, and random number generation.

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