Editor’s note: This story is Part Two of our series spotlighting late-stage startups that not only raised big funds but doubled their valuations as well. Read Part One on the future of work, Part Three on health care, Part Four on cybersecurity, and Part Five on e-commerce.—Special Projects Editor Christine Kilpatrick
Even in a downturn, transformational technologies and industries are created that affect society long after the economic tumult is put in the rearview mirror.
After the dot.com bust in 2001, search and B2C tech revolutionized the way we shop and use the internet. After 2008, social media and 4G helped usher in new ways to connect and communicate.
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In the current market, investors seem to be betting heavily that blockchain, crypto and all things Web3 are the next big tech evolution of the next decade.
While funding for all things Web3 will likely not hit last year’s record high as both the venture market has limped along this year, more than a half-dozen startups in the space have still been able to capture large rounds that doubled their valuation—or more—since the start of 2021.
Just like any industry, infrastructure needs to be built out before people can build all the shiny, new toys in the sandbox.
Palo Alto, California-based Aptos Labs could play a big role in that infrastructure, and investors have taken note. Last month, the company closed a $150 million Series A led by FTX Ventures and Jump Crypto—more than doubling its valuation from a $200 million investment from Tiger Global, Coinbase Ventures and FTX Ventures that valued the company at $1 billion just earlier in the year.
Interestly, just as Facebook—now Meta—emerged from the last downturn as a winner, it plays a role here. Aptos was founded by ex-Meta employees. The company is creating a Layer 1 system blockchain, meaning it will not sit on Ethereum or another network, but be its own decentralized network. However, its Meta roots are allowing it to build off of key elements of the Diem blockchain and its smart contract language—Meta’s Stablecoin project that was shuttered earlier this year.
While Aptos is a Layer 1 player, others are secondary blockchains built on top of that layer—called Layer 2 blockchains. Israel-based StarkWare Industries is such a company, and it saw one of the biggest valuation jumps of any startup in the Web3 space in just six months.
Last November, StarkWare raised $50 million from Sequoia Capital at a $2 billion valuation. However, Web3 talk was just heating up then and in May the company locked down a $100 million round led by Coatue and Greenoaks Capital at an $8 billion valuation—a 300% jump.
Securing the chain
Another area that has caught the eye of investors are platforms that help analyze and secure that blockchain data, including crypto transactions.
Los Angeles-based Blockdaemon offers a secure and scalable node management platform to build blockchain projects. Less than a year ago, the SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led a $155 million round in the company, minting it as a unicorn. However, in January—before the slowdown in venture really hit—both Sapphire Ventures and Tiger Global decided to more than double that valuation to $3.3 billion with a fresh $207 million round.
On the opposite side of the U.S, New York-based Chainalysis—which detects fraud and gives analyses of blockchain data and crypto transactions to governments, banks and businesses—raised a new $170 million Series F at an $8.6 billion valuation. The round more than doubles Chainalysis’ valuation from its $100 million Series E led by Coatue that gave it a $4.2 billion valuation last June. That round itself more than doubled the company’s value from just three months earlier, in March 2021, when it closed a $100 million Series D at a $2 billion value.
Another New York-based Web3 and blockchain security-focused startup saw a similar valuation jump earlier this year. CertiK’s platform analyzes and monitors blockchain protocols and decentralized finance projects. The startup saw its valuations jump more than 120% from last December after raising a $88 million Series B extension led by Advent International and Insight Partners that turned CertiK into a $2 billion unicorn.
CertiK actually was not yet done with its Series B, as it raised another $60 million investment from SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Tiger Global the following month.
Paying up for crypto
Sure, crypto has had a rocky 10 months. That is undeniable. However, that doesn’t mean it has been bumpy for all startups in the space.
Earlier this summer, San Francisco-based FalconX showed the resilience of the crypto industry by raising a $150 million Series D led by GIC and B Capital, and values the company at $8 billion. Just 10 months earlier, the company—which allows institutions to access and manage their crypto assets—closed a $210 million Series C at a $3.75 billion valuation.
However, investor excitement for crypto was not limited to just U.S. startups. India-based CoinDCX, a crypto investing app and exchange aggregator, was minted as a unicorn just a year ago after raising a $90 million round. The startup topped that in April, when it closed a $135 million round led by Pantera Capital and Steadview Capital—doubling that valuation to $2.2 billion.
In a venture market dominated with the talk of down rounds and pullbacks, more than a few Web3 startups seem to have sold investors on the idea that the next generation of the internet is now.
To see more of our Web3 coverage, visit Crunchbase’s Web3 Tracker—a new site to look at startups, investors and funding news concerning all aspects of Web3, cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
Check back for Part Three in our series, which features high-valuation startups in the health care sector.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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