Lens Protocol, a web3 product geared toward making a decentralized social networking ecosystem, has raised $15 million, its group instructed TechCrunch solely. The protocol is being constructed by Aave, a web3 know-how agency, that enables customers to lend and borrow crypto tokens from each other, amongst different issues (Aave has raised a known $49 million to date.)
The protocol is attempting to combine the perfect of the online as we all know it, however with a deal with the brand new improvements web3 to make the web “extra equitable, honest and democratic for social media networks,” Aave Corporations CEO Stani Kulechov mentioned.
Kulechov mentioned it’s vital that future infrastructure for web and social media networks isn’t owned by giant entities like Meta, which owns Fb, Instagram and WhatsApp. When there’s a robust incumbent, it creates much less say for customers and fewer alternative as properly, not simply in web3 or on the web, however in any trade.
The objective of the newly-flush Lens Protocol is to permit particular person customers to have extra management over their information, and the way it’s shared based on Kulechov. “We wish to construct a social media community that doesn’t solely profit the customers however everybody who contributes to it like builders as properly.”
The $15 million that Lens has raised can be used to assist develop the protocol’s ecosystem and proceed its improvement, Kulechov mentioned. There isn’t any valuation obtainable.
The contemporary capital spherical was led by IDEO CoLab Ventures with participation from enterprise capital corporations like Common Catalyst, Variant and Blockchain Capital in addition to DAOs like Flamingo DAO, DAOJones, Punk DAO, DAO5 and International Coin Analysis.
There have been additionally angel traders concerned together with Uniswap CEO Hayden Adams, OpenSea co-founder Alex Atallah, entrepreneur and investor Balaji Srinivasan, Sandbox co-founder Sébastien Borget and Polygon Co-founder Sandeep Nailwal, amongst others.
Lens has been in beta since Might 2022 and has granted entry to a handful of customers to this point. “Our roadmap goes to proceed to be on a beta section for some time and down the road our objective is to fully open the protocol entry, however for that to occur the infrastructure and ecosystem has to develop additional,” Kulechov mentioned.
It hopes to be a “impartial and versatile” protocol that enables builders to construct varied use circumstances starting from gaming to social media, based on the CEO. And quite a few desktop and cell functions are at the moment being constructed by builders like Orb, Riff and Enso Collective, Kulechov famous.
“We’re filling the ecosystem with functions which might be acquainted to conventional social media, [and] we envision a future the place all these functions and algorithms share monetization that comes from totally different use circumstances and options,” he mentioned.
In the long run, Kulechov hopes the protocol will remedy issues that social media customers and firms alike face, not simply within the crypto house, but in addition basically markets. “We don’t have all of the solutions however that’s the great thing about web3, it’s an atmosphere the place everybody can contribute and that’s the place we wish to go.”
“What’s most beneficial for us, we wish to create a protocol that’s open for contribution,” Kulechov mentioned. “A protocol the place we are able to’t make all the choices for customers and builders, the place we are able to have an open platform and dialogue on how Lens Protocol can evolve sooner or later.”
There are different crypto social networks that exist like BitClout, which has over 200 functions constructed on its blockchain DeSo based on its website, amongst others. There are additionally crypto wallets and functions like Thred, that aim to a service similar to Yelp, and supply easy-to-use interfaces. Whereas they’ve gained some traction from crypto gamers and customers, there appears to be little intentional initiative to develop exterior of the ecosystem up to now.
It’s vital to differentiate between networks and protocols – Lens is constructing the latter, that means that any developer can construct on prime of its system. Lens is just like current web protocols like HTTPs, IP protocol or electronic mail, Kulechov mentioned. TechCrunch views it as just like a platform, in conventional Internet phrases.
To ensure that web3 social protocols and networks to realize actual adoption, they should create accessible choices that may attraction to a bigger, extra various, and fewer crypto-insider group. Whether or not or not Lens – or one other group – can handle the feat is but to be decided.