Last November, Armani Ferrante, who had just raised $20 million from FTX and others, was on a flight from Lisbon texting back and forth with his co-founder, trying to figure out what was going on at the exchange. No one responded as they tried desperately, like so many others, to get their money off of FTX as it imploded.
“It was just full blown panic mode,” said the former Alamada Research engineer and founder of Coral, a crypto infrastructure company. “It was like we were punched in the gut … We were just trying to stay as positive as possible and keep the team motivated and not freaking out, especially because a lot of us lost personal capital as well.”
Coral lost the entirety of FTX’s investment on the exchange, about $14.5 million. The firm had to “go into cockroach mode,” Ferrante told The Block's Frank Chaparro on The Scoop podcast. Coral also lost half of its investment from Jump because of the FTX meltdown.
They analyzed their runway and made cuts where they had to in order to stay afloat.
We had to “really prioritize like, how do we make money? How do we make it to the next round? How do we stay alive?” Ferrante said. “It was a traumatic experience on every dimension and it feels like it was forever ago. But we're here. We're here and we're still going.”
Even without the funds, Coral has succeeded in getting the xNFT protocol live and on Solana and its wallet, Backpack, on Solana and Ethereum and available for download in beta form.
Backpack will join a market already brimming with wallets. But this one is more of a social wallet, said Eden Au, research director at The Block Research.
“Most of them aren't focusing on the social aspect of it — which could be crucial for NFT communities,” Au said.
John Dantoni, also a research director at The Block Research, agreed.
“The xNFT part goes in line with ‘being an App Store’ where you’ll be able to buy, sell, transfer and interact with applications directly inside your wallet, as opposed to current set up where you use your browser wallet and sign,” Dantoni said.
Ferrante compares Backpack as a wallet to the way the iPhone is a phone.
With “the iPhone, you can call people, you can text people, but it's so much more than that, right? It's got this really rich application ecosystem. It's got unique developer tooling that's got this awesome, secure, heavily curated app store with incredible user experiences," he said. “We're really trying to be like the gateway into web3."
For more on Ferrante’s interview with Chaparro, listen to the full episode now.
Update: This story has been updated with additional funding information.
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