Today’s newsletter takes a slightly different approach. Over the past year, I’ve shared my annoyance with several of my industry contacts about how the crypto credit crisis essentially decimated my entire coverage area: crypto market structure. When I’m not busy with recording podcasts, crafting this newsletter, or preparing delicious Italian cuisine, I fancy myself a crypto market structure beat reporter. This entails covering the ups and downs of trading and lending firms, exchanges, and other market participants that play a crucial role in the infrastructure of crypto’s emerging capital markets. However, over the past year, my beat has undergone significant changes.
FTX, Genesis, Voyager, and Three Arrows have all exited the stage in this space. It’s been a year of significant transformation, not only for the industry but also for me as a writer. However, it has also provided me with the opportunity to focus on emerging, smaller players. This has been truly exciting. In particular, new entrepreneurs and first-time founders stand out. They are still fueled by passion and have not yet been worn down by the challenges of running a company. They tend to be approachable and friendly, making my job all the more enjoyable.
Now, I’d like to take a moment to highlight some of these fresh companies in the industry, who may one day step into the shoes of the companies that died last year.
- Ostium Labs: Ostium Labs, a cryptocurrency startup, has raised $3.5 million in funding with backing from investors like General Catalyst, LocalGlobe, SIG, and Balaji Srinivasan. The company is developing a protocol for digitized commodities perpetual swaps, aiming to attract both traditional commodities traders and crypto-native traders seeking a more transparent and flexible alternative to conventional derivatives platforms. The platform will support trading in perpetuals tied to assets like oil, bitcoin, and foreign exchange pairs for several major currencies, aiming to bring real-world assets onto the blockchain. It has a partnership with Chaos Labs and plans to leverage Chainlink for pricing. Ostium Labs aims to fill a gap in the market by offering direct on-chain exposure to a broader range of asset classes.
JKLabs: JKLabs, a startup in the crypto space, aims to address governance issues in the decentralized finance and web3 ecosystem by offering a platform that facilitates on-chain decision-making and community engagement. Unlike traditional governance platforms that rely on token-based voting, JKLabs utilizes on-chain reputations to determine participants’ influence in the governance process, allowing for more meaningful and fair participation. This approach enables projects to organize contests, hackathons and grant programs while giving community members opportunities to monetize and grow their audience, ultimately promoting a more transparent and efficient governance model in the crypto industry. They recently raised $2 million in pre-seed funding from various investors.
Fractal: Fractal, a startup co-founded by Aya Kantorovich and Alex Elkrief, raised $6 million to develop a platform aimed at improving transparency in clearing and settlement for digital assets. The company’s goal is to prevent the kind of leveraged deal-making that contributed to the bankruptcy of firms like Three Arrows Capital and FTX, allowing clients to monitor their positions in real-time and limiting collateral for borrowing to crypto blue-chip coins to mitigate liquidity issues faced by counterparties.
Turnkey: Turnkey, a startup led by former Coinbase Custody executives, has secured $7.5 million in seed funding to offer a developer-first platform for securing and managing digital assets in the crypto industry. They aim to provide flexible, programmable solutions for generating wallets and signing transactions across different blockchain networks, addressing the increasing complexity of on-chain transactions in the crypto space. This development comes in response to growing concerns about the security of digital assets in the wake of a record year of crypto hacks totaling $3.8 billion in losses, according to Chainalysis.
- Architect: Brett Harrison, the former president of FTX.US, secured $5 million in funding from investors including Coinbase Ventures and Circle Ventures to establish his new venture, Architect. Architect will focus on providing software trading tools for decentralized finance to cater to large investors and institutions. The company aims to create institutional-grade trading technology that simplifies access to decentralized protocols and centralized exchanges for firms, large traders and high-volume individual users.
This first appeared in Frank Chaparro’s biweekly The Scoop Newsletter. Sign up now.
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