Technology

Decentralized crypto exchange Uniswap Labs raises $165M on $1.66B valuation

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Uniswap Labs, a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange, today raised $165 million in new funding led by crypto-focused venture capital investment firm Polychain Capital at a $1.66 billion valuation to expand its crypto apps and developer tools.

Hayden Adams, chief executive of Uniswap Labs and inventor of the Uniswap Protocol, said the new funding will go toward investing in expanding the platform into the protocol’s web app, building out its developer tools, launching nonfungible tokens and moving onto mobile.

Other backers joining the Series B round included Andreessen Horowitz, Paradigm, SV Angel and Variant.

Adams is a self-taught coder and former mechanical engineer at Siemens who launched Uniswap in 2018. The objective was to create a decentralized exchange that would allow the users of cryptocurrencies to swap their tokens peer-to-peer without going through a centralized exchange run by a corporation.

“When I built the Uniswap Protocol in 2018, it was an experiment to see if I could create something that fully embodied the values of Ethereum: transparent, secure and accessible,” Adams said. “Since then, it has grown and evolved in ways I never imagined.”

The technology and principles behind Uniswap and its protocol are fundamental to Web3, or the decentralized web, which uses blockchain technology to create tokenized economies that allow users to transact business without the need for middlemen and remove the power from controlling entities such as businesses.

Protocols such as Uniswap are part of what is known as decentralized finance, or DeFi, enabling the creation of its eponymous decentralized exchange, decentralized crypto wallets, investment portfolios, liquidity pools, asset management and other products.

The total locked-in value of the entire DeFi market is currently $46.5 billion, down from $168.5 billion in January. Uniswap itself is the fourth-largest decentralized exchange protocol, representing $4.6 billion in locked-in value. The decentralized trading protocol has seen more than $1.4 trillion in trading volume, with more than 114 million total trades.

Adams told Fortune that the new funding would be used to expand Uniswap’s products, including a nonfungible token aggregator that would “unlock new interactions between tokens and NFTs.” Nonfungible tokens are a type of crypto asset that represent the actual ownership of assets, such as digital art, music, media, video game items, tickets or other digital items represented on the blockchain, that can be bought, traded and sold.

The CEO also said his vision would focus Uniswap Labs on building services to make Web3 more accessible to nontechnical people. Currently, getting into crypto, Web3 and DeFi require a highly technical understanding of wallets, cryptocurrency and the apps that interact with them. Bridging that gap has been slow and difficult to understand, which has been stifling adoption.

As Uniswap Labs begins to focus on products and build out its ecosystem, it also created the Uniswap Foundation. It will contribute $60 million in grants in order to support developers and community projects working on the decentralized protocol over the next few years.

Image: Uniswap Labs

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