a16z leads funding round for startup trying to build a crypto social credit score

A startup that wants to create a Web 3.0 version of Quora just raised $3.1 million in a new funding round led by a16z. 

Launched in May 2021, Mem Protocol is part of the newest wave of entrepreneurs seeking to improve existing social media services with decentralized architectures. To start, the firm will release a Q&A application akin to Quora or the now-defunct Yahoo! Answers.

The goal is to weed out spam and users who lack a certain level of expertise on a given topic, said co-founder Abhi Vyas. With existing centralized Q&A platform's "you can't trust that someone claiming to be a professor in math is one," Abhi Vyas argued. 

Mem Protocol, however, will store information on network participants — including social media history, on-chain activity, and professional experience — in cryptographically secured "vaults." That data is controlled by the users, rather than Mem Protocol, and can serve as a "social credit score"—or social graph—when a user gives a green light. 

As for the round, other investors include former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan, Polychain's Olaf Carlson-Wee, and Charlie Cheever. 

Still, Mem's ambitions for the protocol are broader than just a Q&A application. Ultimately, the team expects its architecture can be used for a wide range of applications including product reviews, social media, and job hunting. 

"You can take your social graph and social capital across the web," said Don Walpola, Mem Protocol's CTO. A former machine learning engineer at Comcast, Walpola said that a potential Web 3.0-version of LinkedIn could build on top of Mem to analyze the skills of potential employees. e-Commerce sites could implement the protocols into their product review process to tailor reviews for each individual user.