It’s been almost exactly six months since Eniac first announced our crypto investment strategy. While the firm’s partners had been investing personally in the ecosystem for years, web3 was growing so quickly (especially developer growth) that we felt the need to rethink our approach as a firm.
Specifically, we implemented an on-ramp strategy into the space by writing checks that were smaller than the typical Eniac investment, with the ability to participate in syndicates and invest in token offerings as well. In doing so, we hoped to learn as much as possible about the most promising parts of the ecosystem while offering full partnership support to web3 founders and helping to push the ecosystem forward.
We’ve moved quickly since then, making more than 20 investments in web3 startups. (That number doesn’t include pre-crypto strategy investments that have subsequently moved into web3.) And we’re well on our way to our goal of making web3 one of our main investment areas, as we’ve begun writing larger “core” checks in the next phase of our on-ramp strategy.
As we move out of the initial phase, we thought it was worth recapping our portfolio thus far. We’ve grouped our bets into six broad themes — infrastructure, tooling, DeFi, wallets, Game-fi, and social. This list is not exhaustive, as many companies are still in stealth.
Infrastructure in web3 enables the creation of the next generation of great applications powering the larger ecosystem, building novel architectures and solutions for foundational web3 problems including scalability, security, decentralization, and latency. One of the more pressing issues in the space today is that while web3 is composable, development can be more labor intensive relative to web2, given the underlying infrastructure layer is incredibly nascent. We’ve made a concerted effort to invest in this fundamental base layer of software and tooling that will power the ecosystem.
- Rarify is building an API developer platform that will allow users to easily create, manage, and verify NFTs. The company aims to democratize access to NFT technology by simplifying digital asset creation, with the ultimate goal of connecting web2 with web3 technology.
- Subspace Network lets developers run web3 apps at Internet scale. It provides a simple interface for quickly deploying multi-chain decentralized apps that auto-scale with demand. Subspace is powered by a new eco-friendly, 4th generation blockchain that enables massively scalable on-chain storage and compute, without compromising security or decentralization. It seamlessly integrates with existing blockchains, layer two protocols, and decentralized applications, allowing it to serve as a foundational infrastructure layer for the entire web3 ecosystem. Subspace will empower builders to unlock the next wave of crypto adoption by supporting NFTs, GameFi, and the Metaverse at Internet scale.
- $ENGI is a cryptocurrency and the open-source, open-governed gig economy for coders built on the blockchain. Technology businesses accelerate their software product development by uploading funded failing assertions to a competitive network of professional freelance programmers who work quickly to write validated and performant production code. Automatic and immediate payouts and 24/7 access to global coding talent empower developers and businesses alike. Flexible, accessible, and on-demand software engineering is finally here.
- ADAPT is a software toolkit that enables easy development of distributed applications that store and manage sensitive data in a secure fashion. Its mission is to decentralize data storage for web3 and SaaS software, and to enable fast and easy development of authentication and key sharing tools, as well as to provide a mechanism for decentralization of web3 UIs.
Tooling could help unlock the next growth phase for decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). The category is underdeveloped, which in turn is creating friction for DAO management, participation, and member growth. We believe that the next generation of tooling development will help catalyze further DAO adoption and growth.
- SkillWallet is the first protocol enabling a truly permissionless, self-sovereign, portable identity. It’s an identity system based on each individual’s skills and contributions, rather than their personal data — and it’s designed to bind together the individuals with the communities they join and reward them based on their participation.
- Superdao is an all-in-one DAO platform that makes it easy to start and operate decentralized autonomous organizations. With Superdao, you can create a DAO in one click; generate smart contracts for NFTs and tokens; use built-in member directory, treasury dashboard, newsfeed, and contributor compensation system; and do more with third-party apps.
- Passage Protocol is building the membership layer for web3 communities. One looming problem, despite the explosion of large communities (10k PFPs, DAOs, social tokens, brands looking to extend into web3) standing up seemingly overnight, is member management. Even successful projects suffer from low engagement, poor retention, and limited accessibility for new members — not only an impediment to growth, but also antithetical to the ethos of web3. Passage addresses these issues by providing building blocks for projects to quickly deploy performant, long-lasting web3 relationship management and loyalty rewards programming.
DeFi is the composable monetary backbone of all web3 innovation. We believe that DeFi is fundamental to powering the ecosystems that will be built in web3 — thus helping to facilitate the DeFi ecosystem is critical to the success of all web3 innovation.
- Arcade is a platform that allows the owners of nonfungible tokens to use them as collateral for loans. The platform is a peer-to-peer marketplace that connects NFT owners interested in receiving loans with lenders, which can underwrite fixed-rate term loans collateralized by borrowers’ NFTs on Ethereum. This all happens on-chain with the loan agreement locked in a smart contract through a verifiable NFT.
- Alpine is building a cross-chain asset management protocol and user-friendly dApp to make DeFi easier, more accessible, and more cost effective for users. Although the DeFi space has taken off in recent years, most solutions remain difficult to access and expensive, and they lack reliable investment advisory and analytics capabilities for non-crypto native users. Alpine is hoping to marry web3 and Tradfi infrastructure to be a “Robinhood-like” solution for DeFi.
- Robinland is a financial technology start-up bridging DeFi liquidity into the $1 trillion private credit market underserved by the traditional banking sector. By identifying, sourcing and onboarding high quality assets from traditional financial markets, Robinland provides a hassle-free way for DeFi protocols to stabilize their treasury, for borrowers in real world finance to access cheaper and faster financing, and for retail investors to park stablecoins for sustainable and steady yield. The team consists of real estate industry veterans, crypto-native coders, and lawyers fluent in US security laws with 20+ years combined experience in their respective areas. The company has secured conditional partnership with MakerDAO, the “European Central Bank” of crypto, and Crowdfunz, a real estate PE in NYC with 6 years of track record and 0 default.
Wallets, as we know them today, are still relatively rudimentary — made for safety and custody, with limited innovation in UX. We believe that wallets are going to be fundamental to both the social and developer ecosystem of web3. We are already seeing wallets begin to position themselves differently as the market becomes more and more saturated — they’re marketing themselves as either (1) more consumer friendly crypto on-ramp solutions or (2) dev-first plays — which has informed our investment thesis into the following:
- Sender is creating a friendly NEAR-based non-custodial wallet built for DeFi and NFTs. Today, Sender offers users NEAR native asset management, in-wallet staking, integration of NFTs, instant swaps, implicit account creation, and optimized asset security. This offering also has the potential to benefit the broader web3 ecosystem by delivering accessible, secure wallet experiences to users to achieve mainstream adoption of web3. Sender is positioned to be the defacto wallet on NEAR before expanding into a cross-chain offering.
- Frame is building a privacy-focused wallet that allows users to manage their accounts/tokens and seamlessly/securely connect to any dapp. Crypto wallets keep private keys, the passwords that give users access to their cryptocurrencies, safe and accessible, allowing users to host, send, and receive funds.
Game-fi is unlocking new monetization opportunities for gamers while simultaneously creating a new UA and engagement mechanism for publishers. Moreover, we believe play-to-earn combines two of the most interesting aspects of web3 — (1) community building and (2) NFTs with utility.
- Genopets is the world’s first Free-to-Play, Move-to-Earn NFT game on Solana that makes it fun and rewarding to live an active lifestyle. Genopets combines user’s step data from their mobile device with blockchain Play-to-Earn economics so players can earn crypto for taking action in real life as they explore the Genoverse evolving and battling their Genopet.
Social in web3 remains incredibly nascent in both its adoption and formation. Most web3 discourse still occurs on web2 platforms (e.g., Discord, Twitter). We believe these users and corresponding conversation will gradually move to web3 native social platforms over time.
- Comm is an open source, E2E-encrypted Discord alternative targeted at DAOs. The company is focused on asynchronous, structured communication for groups that are struggling to coordinate and collaborate on Discord. Comm’s core technological innovation is the keyserver, which is basically a federated application backend. Keyservers allow web3 apps to reach feature parity with web2 on search, backup, and discovery. Comm’s long-term goal is to replace the centralized cloud backends of web2 with a federated network of user-owned keyservers.
We’d like to thank all the web3 founders who allowed us to be a part of their important journey as well as the coinvestors and operators who provided access and knowledge as we on-ramped into the category. If you’re a founder building a project in the web3 design space, we’d love to hear from you!
We are just getting started! $🚀🚀🚀