Berachain, a bear-themed crypto project run by a group of pseudonymous co-founders known as Homme Bera, Dev Bear, Papa Bear and Smokey the Bera, has raised $42 million to launch a new Layer 1 blockchain.
Polychain Capital led the funding, with Hack VC, Shima Capital, Robot Ventures, Goldentree Asset Management and others participating, Berachain said Thursday. Angel investors, including Tendermint co-founder Zaki Manian and Celestia co-founder Mustafa Al-Bassam, also backed the round.
Startups building new Layer 1 blockchains and scaling networks have continued to gain traction from investors in recent months. Projects including Sei Labs, Dymension, VRRB Labs and Sovereign Labs have announced rounds since the start of the year.
Berachain has been under development since late 2021 and began raising for the round shortly after the FTX exchange collapsed in November, with the deal closing it "not too long after," Smokey the Bera told The Block. The funding was realized via a simple agreement for future tokens (SAFT) sale, they said.
The project aims to allow users to stake tokens while providing liquidity to DeFi protocols in parallel.
"Say, for example, if you had ether and all of that ETH was being used to secure the Ethereum network and was also being able to be used within DeFi protocols such as Uniswap and MakerDAO," Smokey the Bera said in an interview. "That's really a powerful unlock."
Berachain has a tri-token system of bera (the native gas token), honey (a native stablecoin) and BGT (the "non-transferrable" Bera Governance Token). Users who stake bera or "other permissioned tokens" will earn BGT over time, allowing them to "capture honey generated by the underlying chain architecture as a reward for their participation in governance," Berachain said.
The Berachain network is being built on the Cosmos SDK, using a "proof of liquidity" consensus mechanism, and will be compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Currently available as a development network (devnet), Berachain is expected to release a public incentivized testnet in the coming weeks and potentially a mainnet later this year, according to Smokey the Bera.
Berachain's tokens will also launch alongside its mainnet and investors backing the funding round will get native bera tokens, Smokey the Bera said. The Berachain ecosystem claims to have already had $250 million in committed total value locked.
Berachain co-founders also behind Bong Bears
Berachain is the pseudonymous co-founders' second project, after the NFT project Bong Bears, a collection of "100 absolutely zooted NFT bears getting baked." Investors who purchased a JPEG of a bear for 0.069 ETH in August 2021 received the right to claim follow-on collections — called Bond Bears, Boo Bears, Baby Bears, Band Bears and Bit Bears — free of charge. These collections have exceeded $20 million in secondary volume across marketplaces, said Berachain.
Smokey the Bera said they and the other co-founders have known each other for several years and have previously worked in industries including health care, venture capital and tech. They all are based in Toronto, Smokey the Bera said. Building pseudonymously in crypto isn't new, and Smokey said it helps from a safety, privacy and legal point of view.
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