Blockchain-AI startups grab investors’ attention

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The intersection of artificial intelligence and blockchain seems to be a growing focus for venture capitalists and innovators worldwide. Companies developing solutions based on these technologies disclosed substantial capital raises in June, many of them seed rounds. 

One of these protocols is Sentient, which raised $85 million in funding to develop an open-source artificial intelligence platform. The round was led by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, Pantera Capital, and Framework Ventures. The startup is an AI research organization that wants to enable developers to monetize their open-source models and data, similar to other ecosystems such as the Super Intelligence Alliance.

Another startup, ORA, also uses AI models and blockchain to generate revenue for developers. In early June, the protocol raised $20 million from Polychain, HF0 and Hashkey Capital. It’s working on a mechanism that will entitle anyone who buys a token to own and share revenue generated by an AI model.

“I am particularly excited about opportunities at the convergence of AI and Crypto, although even that distinction will sound dated in a few years,” Pantera Capital’s portfolio manager Cosmo Jiang told Cointelegraph.Jiang said that, in the future, every business will use AI as a tool, just as every business has adopted the internet in the past 20 years:

“There won’t be a distinction between “AI businesses” and “Non-AI businesses” […] As such, we expect many blockchain-enabled businesses will explicitly solve problems with or related to AI.”

Pantera is also an investor in Bittensor, a decentralized platform for building and using AI models. It functions like a marketplace where users can create, train and share AI models, earning rewards for contributing to the network. The funding was made in early 2024, and the amount invested has not been disclosed. “It is a meaningful position in our portfolio,” said Jiang about the token deal. The venture firm, traditional in the blockchain space, has allocated $200 million toAI projects.

This edition of Cointelegraph’s VC Roundup features another batch of startups that raised capital in June.

Lombard raises $16M seed round for Bitcoin restaking

Lombard has closed a $16 million seed funding round to develop a Bitcoin (BTC) restaking ecosystem in collaboration with Babylon. Polychain Capital led the round, along with participation from dao5, Nomad, Foresight Ventures, and ABCDE. Major exchanges, including OKX and Bitget, also contributed. The startup’s flagship product is LBTC — a liquid and yield-bearing representation of BTC that can move across decentralized finance protocols as collateral, according to Lombard. The product is expected to unlock liquidity from BTC staked on Babylon’s protocol. Behind the startup are former executives from Argent, Coinbase and Maple Finance.

Source: Lombard

Redacted secures $10M funding co-led by Spartan Group for ‘Entertainment Datasphere’

Redacted has raised $10 million in a funding round co-led by Spartan Group, with participation from Saison Capital, Animoca Brands, and Polygon Ventures. The startup promotes a Web3 entertainment ecosystem that integrates blockchain and artificial intelligence to create an “entertainment datasphere,” which will allow users to play, trade, and watch content while earning rewards — a process known as farming. The Redacted leadership team is said to include backgrounds from companies such as Tesla, Bank of America, Kraken, and LEGO. The team has allocated more than 50% of the tokens to its community and ecosystem. A group of advisers and consultants from companies such as Saison Capital, Confiction Labs, King/Candy Crush, Amazon, and Microsoft is assisting in the design and building of the ecosystem.

RedStone closes $15M Series A round led by Arrington Capital

Modular oracle developer RedStone has closed a $15 million Series A round led by Arrington Capital, with participation from SevenX, IOSG Ventures, Spartan Capital, White Star Capital, Kraken Ventures, Amber Group, Protagonist, gumi Cryptos, Apeiron (Samara Group), among others. RedStone’s total value secured (TVS) has reached over $4 billion, according to the protocol. The startup claims to have more than 110 clients across 60 chains, including Pendle, Morpho and Venus. In January, RedStone became the only oracle to integrate with TON (The Open Network) and secured a $500 million staking commitment from EtherFi in April. It provides data feeds to Ethereum, zkSync Era, Avalanche, Base, Polygon, Linea, Celo, Optimism, Arbitrum, Fantom, BNB Chain, Blast, and Bitcoin layer-2s such as Merlin Chain and BOB.

Covalent closes $5M round to offer long-term data availability across Asia

Blockchain infrastructure firm Covalent has announced the closing of a $5 million strategic funding round led by RockTree Capital, with participation from CMCC Global, Moonrock Capital, and Double Peak Group. The funds will be used to expand Covalent’s operations in Asia and support long-term data availability in China, Korea, Singapore, and other regions. The startup has been working on its modular data infrastructure layer with Ethereum Wayback Machine (EWM) since 2019 and claims to have integrated with over 225 blockchains and 240 million wallets. Covalent’s structured data pool is used for decentralized artificial intelligence training. Former BitMEX CEO Arthur Hayes serves as Covalent’s strategic adviser.

DePIN Base Camp announces six startups for Web3 accelerator program

Outlier Ventures has announced the six startups selected for the DePIN Base Camp accelerator program. The remote 12-week is a collaboration between Outlier, peaq and Borderless Capital. The selected startups are Aydo (United Arab Emirates), Kaisar Network (Vietnam), Roam Network (Finland), ROVR (Hong Kong), TouchBrick (USA), and YOM (U.K.). These startups are building products in Internet of Things hardware networks, decentralized computing and AI, wireless network optimization, digital twin technology, cybersecurity, and cloud gaming and metaverse. Throughout the program, the teams will receive support from Outlier on product roadmap, community building, entity structuring, and fundraising. Meanwhile, peaq will share its expertise in building and running a DePIN. In addition, each team will receive investment from Borderless Capital.

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