Venture Trotter Weekly Review: A Big Bet on ZK Adoption is Valued at $500 Million

Equity raises that value Web3 companies at $500 million are uncommon right now, especially if they aren’t direct AI plays. However, one such raise occurred last week, and it was from a project that aims to be the primary ecosystem for ZK apps. p0x labs, the developer of Manta Network (multi-modular ecosystem for ZK apps), Manta Atlantic, and Manta Pacific, raised $25 million in a Series A valued at $500 million. The round was led by led by Polychain Capital and Qiming Venture Partners. The Series A will be used to scale the testnet for Manta Pacific. Per the company, Manta Atlantic is “the fastest ZK L1 chain, brings programmable privacy to web3 through compliant on-chain privacy and identity,” and Manta Pacific is “the unique L2 ecosystem for EVM-native ZK applications, provides a scalable and inexpensive gas-fee environment for ZK applications to deploy simply using Solidity.”

This is an interesting one to watch for anybody who is bullish on ZK adoption due to the enhanced privacy that the technology enables. While privacy networks that allow ZK-powered private transacting exist, they lack programmability for an application layer. Also, current ZK applications tend to be associated with high gas costs and slow performance because general VM, EVM blockchains and zkEVM lack tooling for easy development and deployment of ZK apps. Manta Pacific aims to provide a scalable and developer friendly ZK ecosystem with low gas fees by utilizing the data availability of Celestia, a modified OP Stack Rollup solution from the rollup-as-a-Service (“RaaS”) provider Caldera, and Manta Network Universal Circuits. The Manta ecosystem is currently home to 80 applications and 1.5m+ users, but the recent $500 million valuation indicates an expectation for many more users across GameFi, SocialFi, DeFi, and more.


The largest nominal equity raise last week went to a company that is combining Web3 technology and AI content generation tools with the goal of becoming the foundational infrastructure layer of the metaverse. Futureverse, raised a $54 million Series A round led by 10T Holdings with participation from Ripple Labs. Essentially, the company builds software for developers who are creating connected games and applications. Futureverse rolled up 11 metaverse infrastructure and content companies and maintains one of the largest digital collectible communities in the world.  The company developed a number of high profile partnerships including XRP which is integrated with the Root Network, FIFA (see the game AI League) Muhammad Ali Enterprises (see the game Muhammad Ali – The Next Legends), Keanu Reeves, Snoop Dogg, and Mastercard.

The core blockchain infrastructure of Futureverse is the Root Network, a blockchain that has been optimized for metaverse apps and games, and for making the onboarding journey for users onto Web3 simple and safe. The native token for the Root Network is ROOT. ROOT would potentially benefit if Futureverse can increase metaverse adoption through its ecosystem.


A project is building a stablecoin that is not tethered to the traditional banking system. Ethena, developer of an Ethereum enabled, crypto-native stablecoin, raised $6 million in a round led by Dragonfly Capital. DeFi has significant reliance on USDC which could become a centralized kill switch, so the company views reducing reliance on the existing banking structure as a top priority.

Per the company, “Ethena’s stablecoin, USDe, will provide the first censorship resistant, scalable and stable crypto-native solution for money by delta-hedging staked Ethereum collateral. USDe will be fully collateralized transparently onchain and free to compose throughout DeFi.” Ethena is also developing the “Internet Bond” which is built on USDe and earns yield from staked Ethereum and derivatives markets. The company is building the Internet Bond to serve as a dollar denominated savings instrument for users worldwide.

This is an ambitious project that aims to become a foundational component of DeFi going forward. While the project is new and their Twitter account was just created in March 2023, you can view their summary and vision here.


VC Investments into Crypto Projects

The full list of the institutional investments that Ruceto tracked last week is below. Links to the target company website, investment announcement, and token info are provided via hyperlinks on the Target Name, $ Raised, and Token columns respectively.

Target Name $ Raised Lead Investors Description Token
10T Holdings, LLC
Per 10T CEO and CIO Dan Tapiero, “Futureverse has developed an immersive and vertically-integrated metaverse platform that acts as an AI technology provider, metaverse infrastructure builder, layer-1 architect, creative studio, and digital community all in one”
Blockchain Capital
Developer of ZK virtual machine technology, enabling developers to build ZK - powered apps with conventional programming languages such as Rust and C++
Solana Foundation, Polygon
Web3 infrastructure developer with offerings that include chain-agnostic marketplaces, digital identity management, smart contract development tools, world-building 3D architecture tools, and AI-backed metaverse avatars
Polychain Capital and Qiming Venture Partners
Creator of Manta Network: a multi-modular ecosystem for ZK applications that includes Manta Atlantic: an L1 ZK chain, and Manta Pacific: programmable ZK as an EVM-native L2
Skyview Capital, A&T, and more
A smart contract wallet powered by ERC-4337 with multichain capabilities
Binance Labs
DeFi project enabling users to borrow and earn yield across multiple chains
Dragonfly Capital
Developing an Ethereum-backed and yield bearing stablecoin
Sora Ventures
A protocol that enables full-stack compliant privacy for smart contract assets and web3 applications at scale

What’s Happening at Ruceto

We just released part 2 of our report explaining how several crypto companies are working to utilize blockchain technology to compensate people around the world for using their idle hardware to power the development of AI models. You can view both parts as well as the rest of our library on our Research page. Our next report will be on Sei, and it’s going to be a must-read deep dive before Sei’s mainnet.

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