A16z Leads Aztec’s $100M Series B for Web3 Privacy Layer

The web3 startup wants to bring encryption to the blockchain in order to take the industry to the mainstream.
Image source: aztec.network

Quick take:

  • Aztec Network has raised $100 million in a Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz.
  • Aztec co-founder Joe Andrews describes the platform as an encrypted version of Ethereum.
  • The company also announced Aztec Connect as the first application to be built on the network.

Aztec Network has closed a $100 million funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz (A16z). The web3 startup wants to bring encryption to the blockchain. 

Disclosing the fundraising to TechCrunch, Aztec co-founder Zac Williamson said that encryption is one of the missing elements to bring web3 to the mainstream, adding that although there are a few encrypted blockchains out there, they are more like bitcoin.

Aztec Network is developing a programmable blockchain network, which Joe Andrews, also a  co-founder at the company, describes as “an encrypted version of Ethereum”. “Normally on Ethereum everything is public, but we are making it encrypted. That journey has taken us many years to play out.”

The company also announced Aztec Connect as the first ecosystem to be built on its network. According to the Aztec website, Aztec Connect integrates with Ethereum Decentralised Finance (DeFi) protocols like Aave, Lido and Element Finance. The company plans to add Compound Finance and five other protocols in the future.

Encrypted blockchains enhance user privacy by authorising transactions without revealing key details of the user. Recently, blockchain developers have zeroed in on web3 identity solutions that utilise zero-knowledge proofs. However, the technology is still in its nascent state with Polygon and BNB Chain among the early adopters.

“The world isn’t nice to live in without encryption,” Andrews said. “Go through your day and think about how many things you wouldn’t want people to see. Not all of it is bad; it’s just your daily life. But think about how you take that for granted. Doing things without privacy would be a pretty scary world and not one we want.”

Although Aztec did not disclose other investors participating in the Series B round, the company said the Silicon Valley-based venture firm was not the only investor.

“We chose [a16z] to lead the round because they’ve been through this before with the dawn of the internet,” Andrews said. “It’s a similar situation to what we find ourselves in; yes, different, but the same problem. We have this exciting new technology and opportunity to transform the lives of everyone in the world, but we need encryption to make it a reality.”

Aztec plans to use the funds to double its team of developers globally after growing from seven to 40 in the past year. 

Aztec Network differentiates its encrypted blockchain from the likes of Zcash and Iron Fish Network, which also operate in the same segment by making its network programmable. This means that developers can easily build privacy-focused apps on the network, which Andrews thinks could be the key to onboarding the mainstream onto web3.

“Adding encryption to blockchain technology could “spawn a whole wave of personal consumer finance,” and a lot more, he said.



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