LayerZero Labs, the developer of the blockchain interoperability protocol LayerZero, reached a valuation of $3 billion in a Series B funding round worth $120 million.
Investors in the round included a16z Crypto, Sequoia Capital, Circle Ventures, Samsung Next, OpenSea and Christie's, LayerZero said Tuesday. The news confirms The Block's reporting in May that said LayerZero was seeking funds at a $3 billion valuation.
LayerZero began raising for the round late last year due to challenging mid-year market conditions, Bryan Pellegrino, co-founder and CEO of LayerZero Labs, told The Block in an interview.
A total of 33 investors participated in the Series B round, but there was no lead investor, Pellegrino said.
That's opposed to LayerZero's $135 million Series A round in March 2022 that was co-led by a16z Crypto, Sequoia Capital and FTX Ventures. These three investors, at the time, provided the massive $120 million chunk, according to Pellegrino. LayerZero was then valued at $1 billion. Today's news means the project has tripled its valuation in over a year.
"We didn't need the money," Pellegrino said, adding that it was raised to meet LayerZero's growth plans. "One of the big goals this year is to significantly push into the Asia-Pacific region and the gaming sector," Pellegrino said.
APAC and gaming expansion
LayerZero is a blockchain interoperability protocol that enables users to send tokens in a single transaction across different blockchains. It is an alternative to blockchain bridges that require several transactions before completing a token transfer.
Since its launch last year, LayerZero has seen massive adoption, according to Pellegrino, who said the protocol's total value locked crossed $7 billion, and transactional volume has hit more than $6 billion.
Top DeFi protocols — including Uniswap, SushiSwap and PancakeSwap — have integrated Layerzero for cross-chain transactions.
LayerZero also supports NFT transfers through its Omnichain Non-Fungible Tokens (ONFT) standard.
Earlier this year, Pudgy Penguins, an Ethereum-based NFT collection, partnered with LayerZero to enable cross-chain transactions. Blockchain play-to-earn game DeFi Kingdoms also integrated LayerZero in December. "We want to have the same presence we have in DeFi in gaming," Pellegrino said. "We want to work directly with gaming studios."
To that end, LayerZero also plans to increase its current headcount of over 40 people to around 70 by the end of the year by hiring across functions, including marketing.
The Series B round brings LayerZero Labs' total funding to $263 million. All its funding rounds have the same structure of equity plus token warrants, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told The Block.
Pellegrino declined to comment on the token launch timeline.
Updates SAFE to equity in the second-last paragraph.
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