Big Whale Labs, a startup building a social protocol to facilitate pseudonymity through zero knowledge and crypto, exclusively told The Block that it has raised $3.8 million in a Seed round.
The round was led by M13 and Road, with participation from Slow Ventures, C2, Goodwater, Panache, NFR, and angel investors Balaji Srinivasan (ex-CTO of Coinbase) and Roman (founder of Tornado Cash), along with others.
The social protocol lets people better manage their interactions online and aims to build trusted relationships through verifiable accounts.
Blockchains such as Ethereum are public ledgers, which means transactions are visible for others to see. If someone knows who a wallet address belongs to, they can see its transaction history and continue to keep track of its transactions, such as which non-fungible tokens (NFTs) they have bought and what decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) they have joined.
Pseudonymity – and whether or not high profile people should reveal their identity – is a hot topic in crypto. From the founders of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT franchise, to the controversies surrounding the real identity of DeFi protocol Wonderland, it's hard not to acknowledge that credentials matter.
Big Whale Labs' project SealCred will be an open-source privacy-focused protocol that lets users create pseudonymous wallets – that are verified – to transfer social capital from one wallet to another.
“The main problem is everything on a blockchain is immutable,” said Jason Kim, CEO and co-founder of Big Whale Labs, in an interview with The Block. “It's relatively permanent and traceable. And so if you couple professional identity, other social identities along with like financial data, it allows basically more attack vectors for users.”
If users get hacked, not only is all their crypto lost, but social identity and other credentials can be hacked as well, says Kim. “So we're adding a privacy layer on top of open blockchains like Ethereum and Solana and others to provide more privacy for users.”
While the team, which is still less than 10 people and fully remote, is focusing on NFT ownership as a use case, it’s also looking to expand into other use cases like anonymous peer reviews of DAO members, anonymous reviews of DAOs and other cases in Web2 like Twitter verification.
With this funding round, the company has raised a total of $4.4 million so far.
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