OKX Ventures wants to onboard ESG, bring AI on-chain

Sustainability solutions and zero-knowledge technology are among the key investment priorities for OKX Ventures for the coming months, according to partner Jeff Ren.

In an interview with Cointelegraph, Ren discussed the areas where the venture arm of crypto exchange OKX plans to invest in 2024 and the trends driving investors’ decisions.

One OKX focus is the development of sustainable solutions within the blockchain space, including “projects exploring the tokenization of green assets, on-chain carbon offsetting and tracking and verification of ESG data and intelligence.”

Another area of growing attention is zero-knowledge technology. On May 24, OKX Ventures co-led a $12 million investment in ZK hardware acceleration project Cysic. The venture firm is also targeting the convergence of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence.

“These projects are disrupting traditional industries and paving the way for new areas of growth such as AI-driven decision-making, predictive analytics, and personalized services,” said the OKX partner. Similar solutions in OKX’s startup portfolio include investments in MyShell, a decentralized AI consumer layer, and Flock.io, a platform for AI models and decentralized applications.

“Projects should show real use cases of blockchain technology, provide value to users and community, and support the industry’s innovation needs,” he advised.

This edition of Cointelegraph’s VC Roundup features some startups that raised capital in the last weeks of May.

WeatherXM secures $7.7M for decentralized weather network

WeatherXM AG, a core contributor to the WeatherXM Network, closed a $7.7 million Series A round led by Lightspeed Faction, with additional investment from Protocol Labs, Borderless Capital, Arca, and others. According to the startup, the funds will be used to expand the team and network; they will also be used to continue research and development in crypto-enabled weather hardware and decentralized infrastructure. The funding follows a $5 million seed round from investors, including Placeholder VC and Consensys Mesh. WeatherXM is said to have deployed more than 5,000 weather stations in more than 80 countries, creating a network that collects local environmental data. This data supports hyper-local weather forecasts and Web3-native applications like on-chain prediction markets and parametric weather insurance products.

Switchboard raises $7.5M Series A Round to oracles platform

Switchboard, a customizable oracle network, has raised $7.5 million in a Series A round led by Tribe Capital and RockawayX, with participation from Solana Foundation, Aptos Labs, Mysten Labs, Subzero Ventures, StarkWare, Arche Capital, Breed VC, Ascensive Assets, and others. The platform allows users to control the data they bring on-chain, supporting a range of applications from DeFi to on-chain gaming and gambling. According to the startup, its design lets users configure bespoke oracle networks and access pre-built oracles for common tasks. The funding will help Switchboard expand, having already secured over $2 billion in total value and gained over 100,000 users since June 2021.

Source: Switchboard

GaiaNet raises $10M to build decentralized network for open source LLM, AI Agent

GaiaNet, a new AI infrastructure project aiming to decentralize AI agent software, has raised $10 million in a Series Seed Round with investments from Lex Sokolin of Generative Ventures, Brian Johnson of Republic Capital, Shawn Ng of 7RIDGE, Kishore Bhatia, EVM Capital, Mirana Ventures, Mantle EcoFund, and ByteTrade Lab. GaiaNet utilizes a distributed network of edge nodes controlled by individuals and businesses to host AI models based on their expertise, with each node acting as an AI twin performing tasks for its operator. In addition to building the network infrastructure, the funding will support the development of new AI training models for developers and private data holders and increase the number of network nodes. 

OKX Ventures invests $12M in zero-knowledge startup Cysic 

OKX Ventures announced a $12 million investment in Cysic, a company specializing in zero-knowledge hardware acceleration. The startup aims to expedite ZK-proof generation, a process currently slowed down by CPU processing speed. Cysic focuses on ASIC design and GPU engineering to offer enterprise-grade ZK compute-as-a-service. The funds from this investment will support Cysic’s global expansion, employee hiring, and hardware production.

DWF Labs backs $4M round for oracles startup API3

Oracles solution provider API3 has closed a $4 million funding round led by DWF Labs. Other participants include Spartan Group, as well as Laser Digital’s Nomura and Caladan — formerly AlphaLab. The funding will deliver sufficient liquidity for API3 to execute its growth strategy, it said in a statement. Since January, the startup’s Total Secured Value (TVS) has increased by 4,900%, from $20 million to over $1 billion. API3 offers a first-party oracle solution, providing decentralized data feeds for smart contracts and decentralized APIs for direct access to real-world data. A DAO proposal to allocate 1,423,500 API3 tokens to the participants has passed and is currently being executed. The tokens will have a structured lockup period, with a 12-month linear unlock and a 6-month cliff. 

SCRYPT secures $5M in strategic funding

Financial services startup SCRYPT has closed a $5 million funding round led by Brazilian exchange bank Braza Bank, with participation from Funfair Ventures, Cabrit Capital, and Atlantic Labs. According to the firm, it has doubled its client base and increased trading volume 18 times year-on-year. Founded in 2020 by Norman Wooding and Sylvan Martin, SCRYPT offers trading, custody, and staking services. The startup serves over 200 institutional clients and recently received Swiss regulatory approval to launch asset management solutions. 

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