Startups race to build consumer-friendly, crypto-based messaging platforms for web3 – TechCrunch

There is no shortage of headlines about the beginning of the “crypto winter”. In the midst of a growing day bankruptcy pileone of the most popular startups in the business, NFT marketplace OpenSea, has announced big layoffs only today.

Behind the scenes, however, many founders and VCs are doubling down on the promise of blockchain-based outfits that are largely decentralized and, ultimately, one of the “more exciting parts of crypto.” death right now” lies “at the intersection of messaging society and the web3,” says prominent businessman and investor Elad Gil. In short, he thinks today’s messaging tools don’t cut that, and there will be new opportunities for crypto startups to get it right.

Gil made an early bet, leading a $4 million seed round on Lines, a startup whose three cofounders studied philosophy at Harvard and as their CEO, Sahil Handaboasts that the fledgling company will become “the messaging platform of web3,” even as he and his former classmates are still developing its technology.

That it is still underway is clearly good with Lines backers, including famous angel investors Naval Ravikant, Balaji Srinivasan, Gokul Rajaram. What they advocate is a vision. Handa explains “a rapidly growing number of people are using crypto pseudonyms to buy digital currencies, swap NFTs, vote on proposals, and manage the treasury. “But whenever someone tries to communicate with another person in this network, there’s no way to know if they’re talking to the right person.”

Meanwhile, Lines strives to allow users to send wallet-to-wallet messages and join group chats based on token ownership. Indeed, Handa paints a picture of a conflicting layer of communication about the underlying blockchains and specific crypto wallets one is using, and thus empowering users in various ways. . For example, they can find the owner of a specific NFT they want to buy, or discover like-minded individuals based on the tokens they have acquired, or reach out to new contributors. the potential of a DAO (a kind of “group chat with a bank account“As the DAOs were called).

Certainly, Gil thought the timing was right when there were many people organizing and trading online as a group. In earlier days, he noted, “Your bitcoin or crypto assets are identical to mine, so I would have less reason to ping an anonymous user via their wallet. But with DAOs, it is necessary to coordinate with many different members beyond just using Discord.” In the world of web3, he said, users “want to be able to identify and interact with people to govern, reward contributions, conduct airdrops, etc.” With NFT and other collections, “I might want to ping you to buy or sell or trade, so there are other dynamics for the communication layer to be useful,” he added.

The question is whether enough people agree that Lines is offering the exact right solution. As with every messaging app ever, its value will largely be determined by how many people use it. And how many people use it will determine if the startup can hit the partnerships with platforms like OpenSea they need.

In the interim, Handa and its co-founders – who are still undecided on the business model – will soon compete with other messaging apps trying to take over on Twitter, Telegram or Discord, where most web3 chats take place today and where, because it is impossible to verify if people are what they say they are, phishing attempts and other scams are rampage.

Gil himself said that he was aware of “different groups working on identity, social classes, and communication on the web3.”

Most of them are still flying under the radar, but some are starting to appear publicly. Last month, for example, a crypto analytics platform called Nansen implemented a messaging app it says to allow users to log in with crypto wallets and then connect to groups based on their crypto assets and NFT that they own are verifiable. Like Lines, the company describes the app as a “cryptocurrency communication hub” for web3 communities.

NFT Market, Rarible, has separately announced a wallet-based messaging feature last year.

Naturally, Lines argues that it has an edge over the others. Specifically, Handa says, while he and his friends are building web3, they have enough distance from it to build an app that both crypto natives understand but novices understand. web3 is also easy to grasp and use.

“We are really focused on the client-side use cases, rather than how decentralized the messaging protocol itself is,” said Handa, who is still two credits away from graduation and is very much a planner. Plan to earn your diploma. (“My thesis is about identity and web3 communication, so it’s not really a distraction at this point,” he offers.)

He said that he “thinks it helps that we haven’t been in the crypto space in 10 years” and is therefore “not super ideological about how we build the platform. We really just do it based on what makes sense from a consumer perspective and a community perspective. So many crypto products aren’t conceived from the consumer’s point of view,” he continued, “so we’re trying to figure out that first use case, creating a product.” attractive and finally, if other platforms want to integrate [with us]they can.”

Other investors in the Lines seed round include Scalar Capital, Volt Capital, Caffeinated Capital, Consensys Mesh, Hash3, Mischief and many more individuals, including Figma CEO and co-founder Dylan Field, and entrepreneur-home investment Scott Belsky. Handa said Lines is using capital to recruit and currently has three more engineers on the market.

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