Umee raises $6.3 million to fuel push to become 'cross-chain hub' for DeFi tools

A new protocol startup is looking to be the connective tissue for decentralized finance (DeFi), and it's raised $6.3 million from the likes of Polychain, Coinbase, and others to do it.

Umee wants to become a "cross chain DeFi hub" by creating interoperable tools for DeFi users that work across a range of chains and venues.

CEO Brent Xu previously worked at Tendermint, helping to build out its Cosmos blockchain and its Interoperability Blockchain Communication protocol between blockchains. Before that, he spent time with Consensys, and before his foray into crypto, he traded bonds. He said Umee is a combination of all those backgrounds, making it "part fixed income trading, part Ethereum and part Cosmos proof of stake."

The idea is that Umee will become a hub for other DeFi tools as developers build on the initial offerings, but its initial focus falls to three areas: establishing cross-chain interest rates, interchain leverage and multi-chain staking.


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"Just as how the Federal Reserve establishes base interest rates, we want to establish base staking rates and base tools that can exist as sort of the fundamental building blocks," he said. "And we hope to attract many developers from other ecosystems to build upon those tools."

The seed funding will enable the Umee team to bring on more developers to get the protocol ready for mainnet. Because its focus is interoperability, there are three developer pieces to the project — the Cosmos mainnet, the Ethereum mainnet and the Gravity Bridge, which allows for the interoperability between the two and other blockchains.

Umee will also use the funds to incorporate other networks that could benefit from a cross-chain hub. That means exploring Ethereum scaling solutions like various roll-ups.

Both ConsenSys and Tendermint are among Umee's seed round backers, along with CMS, Ideo Colab, Brian Kelly Capital Management, Alameda Research and Argonautic Ventures.

Xu said the Umee team is discussing an end of Q3 or early Q4 mainnet launch date. 

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Aislinn Keely is a reporter on The Block's policy team holding down the legal beat. She covers court decisions, bankruptcies, regulatory actions and other key moments in the legal sphere, putting them in context for the wider crypto industry. Before The Block, she lent her voice to the NPR affiliate WFUV and helmed Fordham University's student newspaper. Send tips or thoughts on all things policy and legal to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter for updates @AislinnKeely.