Web3 Chat App Comm Raises $5M Seed Funding to Challenge Discord

Comm claims to support features available on Discord and Slack.
Alexander Shatov/Unsplash

Quick take:

  • Users can log into the app with their wallets and ENS name.
  • Comm focus on acquiring web3 users and communities to build up a critical mass of keyservers.
  • The app has ambitions to replace Dropbox, Gmail, and Facebook with web3-compatible equivalents.

Comm, a new protocol for scaling end-to-end (E2E) encryption using keyservers, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by Web3-focused investment firm, CoinFund, with participation from Electric Capital, Slow Ventures, Eniac Ventures, Shima Capital, and LongHash Ventures among others.

Comm is on a mission to scale E2E encryption from being a technology that works for Web2 chat apps to something that can replace centralised backends for all applications. The startup has designed a solution in the form of keyservers.

The keyserver is a privacy platform that serves as a sandboxed environment for operating the backend for an individual’s app. Any data the user enters into the keyserver is inaccessible to app operators, giving users full ownership of their data. The new funds will be used to further develop and implement this new technology.

“I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to close this seed round which will enable us to bring the next generation of privacy technology to market. Consumer keyservers represent a pivotal technological advancement that will empower people to take control of their personal data. Comm demonstrates Web3’s capacity to deliver sovereign digital identity solutions that overcome the legacy challenges of the existing data model where the user is the product,” said Ashoat Tevosyan, founder and CEO of Comm.

As its first deployment, the startup is developing an E2E encrypted Web3 chat app to rival Discord and Slack. The Comm app is the first implementation of Comm’s keyservers in action. It claims to support features available on apps like Discord and Slack. Each community on Comm hosts its own keyserver, and users can log in with their wallets and use their Ethereum Name Service name as their username.

While Discord is the chat platform of choice for Web3 projects to engage with their communities, it has seen its fair share of hacks. The Discord servers of Bored Ape Yacht Club and OpenSea have fallen victim to phishing attacks as Discord is not E2E encrypted. 

However, E2E encryption alone doesn’t guarantee security. “One of the biggest security holes in contemporary E2E-encrypted chat apps like @SignalApp is that application servers can reset your key and hijack your identity,” Comm tweeted

To give users control of their digital identity, Comm doesn’t allow key resets. The only way for users to change their public key is with a signed message from the old key. The Comm app encrypts the user’s private key with their password/wallet and backs it up in the cloud so that users can recover their account.

Besides the above features, users can choose to prioritise only the discussions they’re actively involved in, and the unified inbox makes it easy to see all unread messages at a glance.

As its initial go-to-market strategy, the Comm app will focus on acquiring Web3 users and communities to build up a critical mass of keyservers. Comm has ambitions to replace Dropbox, Gmail, and Facebook with Web3-compatible equivalents.

In June, Nansen also launched a new Web3-native messaging app called Nansen Connect to rival Discord. It has given select NFT collections their dedicated channels. Users on Nansen Connect can also send end-to-end encrypted messages to each other.

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