Monad Labs, a Layer 1 blockchain project co-founded by former Jump Trading developers, raised $19 million in funding led by Dragonfly Capital.
Other investors included Placeholder Capital, Lemniscap, Finality Capital and Shima Capital, as well as angel investors, including Naval Ravikant, Cobie and Hasu, according to a Tuesday announcement. Overall, more than 70 investors backed the project.
The funding is a combination of two rounds — pre-seed worth $9 million raised in May 2022 and seed worth $10 million raised in December — Monad Labs co-founder and CEO Keone Hon told The Block in an interview. The funding effort was "really smooth" despite the bear market because investors are excited about Monad's vision of building an "extremely performant" blockchain, Hon said.
Building on HFT experience
Hon co-founded Monad Labs last year with his former Jump Trading colleague James Hunsaker as CTO. Each worked for the propriety trading firm for eight years, building its low-latency, high-frequency trading (HFT) systems. The duo also had a brief stint at Jump Crypto. Monad Labs has a third co-founder, Eunice Giarta, who is also the project's chief operating officer.
Monad is building an Ethereum virtual machine (EVM)-compatible Layer 1 blockchain designed to improve the overall Ethereum ecosystem. When asked why they made a new blockchain in an already crowded sector, Hunsaker said that there is still an opportunity to increase the performance of Ethereum and expand the entire crypto ecosystem.
"Almost all existing EVM chains are just using [the] Ethereum codebase, so they are clones or Ethereum," Hunsaker said. "They have not done any architectural work on the Ethereum side of things, on the execution side of things. We're building a new EVM from the ground up. That will be very high performant."
Aiming for mass adoption
The Monad blockchain will operate on a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism and, by design, is set to process a total of 10,000 transactions per second, according to the project. The blockchain's testnet and mainnet are scheduled to launch later this year, Hon said, without specifying timelines.
As for how Monad plans to bring developers and apps on its network, Hon said the project's long-term vision is to be both a technology company and an incubation company. "We will cultivate an ecosystem of applications that will have solid business models for providing value to users that the users are willing to pay for," he said.
He acknowledged that it's not going to be an easy journey but said Monad is solving "really fundamental technological problems right now," which will help bring mass adoption of crypto.
There are currently 12 people working for Monad Labs, and the project plans to double its headcount in the next six months by hiring across functions, Hon said.
He declined to comment on whether the funding was secured via an equity or a token or an equity plus token warrant deal. He also declined to comment on valuation and board seats.
Projects building new blockchains and scaling networks continue to gain traction from investors. In recent weeks and months, several such projects, including Dymension, VRRB Labs and Sovereign Labs, have raised funds.
© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.