Ethereum Rival NEAR Protocol Raises $350 Million in New Funding
As it seeks to compete with Ethereum as a go-to blockchain for decentralized applications, NEAR Protocol announced today it has raised $350 million in a new funding round led by Tiger Global. Republic Capital, FTX Ventures, Hashed, Dragonfly Capital Partners, ParaFi Capital, Blockchange Ventures, and MetaWeb.vc also participated.
NEAR says this latest funding round will accelerate the decentralization of the NEAR ecosystem. NEAR's previous raises included a $21.6 million round in May 2020 and another $150 million in January 2022.
"We are strong believers in NEAR's sharding approach to scale blockchains," Haseeb Qureshi, Managing Partner at Dragonfly Capital Partners, told Decrypt.
"In the long run, all blockchains will need to horizontally scale to support the massive scale that's coming with mainstream adoption. ETH 2.0 sees this same outcome, but NEAR delivers that actual experience right now," added Qureshi.
What is NEAR Protocol?
Founded in 2018, NEAR Protocol is a platform for building decentralized applications using smart contracts, automated programs that execute once specific criteria are met.
The project is focused on helping developers get their projects off the ground by offering a range of development tools. It also aims to be a user-friendly and scalable proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain; NEAR launched its mainnet in October 2020.
The 19th-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, according to CoinMarketCap at $10.8 billion, NEAR Protocol's eponymous coin, can be used to pay for transaction fees and staking on the network.
According to data pulled from DappRadar, top projects building on NEAR include NEAR Crowd, a service that allows users to earn tokens by completing tasks; Paras 2.0, an NFT marketplace that focuses on high-quality works curated by select artists; Ref Finance, a community-led decentralized finance (DeFi) platform; and Mintbase, a platform for issuing and selling NFTs.
NEAR says its ecosystem has seen a massive increase in venture capital investment since late 2021.
That includes investment in Aurora, an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) on the NEAR Protocol, and various DeFi applications. In February, Ref Finance also announced it had raised $4.8 million to build a "one-stop-shop" for DeFi services in the Near Protocol Ecosystem.
Tiger Global partner John Curtius said the firm was glad to lead the latest round. "NEAR is poised to be a leading smart contract blockchain platform, combining first-rate technology with a fast-growing developer ecosystem. We're excited to support NEAR as we ramp up our investments in the digital asset space," he said.Source