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‘Onboard the rest of the world to crypto’: Sovereign Labs raises $7.4M in round led by Haun Ventures

Katie Haun, founder of Haun Ventures.
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Katie Haun, a former federal prosecutor and member of the venture capital firm of Andreessen Horowitz, unveiled her crypto-focused fund to much acclaim in 2022. Now, her $1.5 billion outfit has announced its newest investment.

On Monday, it announced an initial $7.4 million funding round for Sovereign Labs, a startup that hopes to make blockchain applications run faster and more efficiently.

“Our mission is to onboard the rest of the world to crypto,” Cem Özer, CEO and cofounder of Sovereign Labs, said in a statement.

He and Preston Evans, the other cofounder and CTO, are building a developer interface that helps programmers more quickly produce blockchain applications that run on zero-knowledge proofs, a form of cryptography used to reduce the work and time needed to verify blockchain transactions. 

Their project may seem less flashy than a new NFT drop or the unveiling of a new crypto exchange, but in the wake of FTX’s collapse, blockchain infrastructure is attracting renewed attention from investors wary of overhyped, headline-grabbing startups. “Crypto bear markets are particularly attractive times to build infrastructure projects,” Chris Ahn, a partner at Haun Ventures, told Fortune.

Haun’s investment in Sovereign Labs follows other recently announced cash infusions in companies focused on underlying Web3 technology. Blockstream, a crypto mining and infrastructure outfit, announced last week that it had raised $125 million to expand operations. And QuickNode, another crypto infrastructure firm, announced on the same day an infusion of $60 million, raising its estimated valuation to $800 million.

While Sovereign Labs’ round may pale in comparison to those, the cash influx, Evans told Fortune, will allow the firm to expand beyond three employees—which includes the cofounders—and work to complete a prototype of its developer kit in the coming months.

“With zero-knowledge proofs, a cell phone can easily validate the work of an entire data center. But, building with zero-knowledge has historically been accessible only to a few Ph.D.s in cryptography,” Evans added. “At Sovereign Labs, we’re building tools which are accessible to normal developers.”

Ahn of Haun Ventures agreed. “Building a scalable network without sacrificing decentralization is one of the biggest opportunities in crypto,” he said. “Zero-knowledge has a strong chance of being the technology that helps us achieve this goal.”

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