January 31, 2023

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a top east Google The executive wants to make blockchain exploration easier with its new startup.

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Sridhar Ramaswamy, who headed the internet giant’s advertising business from 2013 to 2018, has started a new company called nxyz. The venture is officially launching Wednesday after attracting investments from several top investors, he told CNBC exclusively.

Armed with Rolodex of eminent Silicon Valley connections, Ramaswamy secured $40 million in funding in May to establish nxyz as a separate entity for Niva, a privacy-focused search engine he also owns. The round was led by Paradigm, a prolific crypto and “Web3” dealmaker, while Coinbase, Sequoia and Greylock – where Ramaswamy is a partner Invested too. Ramaswamy will continue to be the CEO of Niva while he will also lead nxyz.

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Nxyz was conceived earlier this year by a team of engineers from Neeva, a search engine that includes no ads and blocks online tracking tools. Ramaswamy created Niva in 2019 after leaving his role as senior vice president for Google’s $150 billion advertising business a year ago, which he says is combined with its relentless focus on sustaining growth at the expense of users. was more than disillusioned.

one in march blogpost On Niva’s website, nxyz is described as “an experiment bringing a user-first ethos similar to Niva Search on Web3”. Web3 refers loosely to the idea of ​​a more decentralized version of the Internet powered by cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens, and other technologies. This encourages placing the ownership of data in the hands of users rather than Big Tech platforms, which use people’s personal information to target them with ads.

Ramaswamy said in a CNBC interview, “For me, the big advance with blockchain is that it introduces this idea of ​​decentralized computation, where you are uploading a piece of code to a blockchain and the code is running there. ” “No one is in charge. It is decentralized storage that is collectively owned. At the same time, they also have utility as a native token currency that is designed to provide incentives for the system.”

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Nxyz searches the blockchain and related applications for requested data such as how much a person holds in their crypto wallet, or which NFTs they are purchasing. It then streams this data to developers in real-time using a tool called API. The platform currently supports Ethereum, Polygon and the Binance network, and Ramaswamy says it wants to include more over time.

niva and opposite Google — “Web2” giant Neeva wants to disrupt — nxyz’s Web3 search software isn’t targeted at consumers. Instead, it seeks to provide clean blockchain data to large crypto firms, such as how Bloomberg sells access to financial data and news with its terminal business to Wall Street institutions. Ramaswamy has named crypto custody firm BitGo as an initial client with which it has partnered.

He explained that parsing data off the blockchain is a messy process. Smart contracts – programs that power crypto applications – can be assigned specified tasks. But once they are in the wild, it can be difficult to know exactly what functions they perform in practice. As an example, bugs in major smart contracts known as blockchain bridges have opened the industry to mega-hacks, with the bridges of Binance and Axi Infinity maker Sky Mavis facing nine-figure breaches. Is kept. More insight into the performance of those devices could improve security.

“It’s one thing to write smart contracts that can do things. But you have to have a record, what did they do? And how can I show that?” Ramaswamy said. “It’s all about, ‘What’s in your wallet?’ For, ‘If you swapped USDC tokens with Ethereum, what was the exchange and when did it happen?’”

Nxyz’s launch comes with crypto investors reeling in deep drop in token prices Bitcoin, the world’s largest digital currency, down 70% from its all-time high. The main factors driving the current so-called “crypto winter” are high interest rates from the Federal Reserve and an industry-wide liquidity crisis.

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This has made it a difficult environment for crypto and blockchain-focused startups to attract capital, with Pitchbook data showing that VC investments in such firms fell 37% to $4.4 billion in the prior quarter. was $7.6 billion. Many of those who have successfully raised capital are seeing their valuations remain flat or falling. Nxyz declined to disclose its valuation.

Ramaswamy said the firm was fortunate to have raised the funding. Negotiations with investors began in mid-April and ended by mid-May, around the same time that the so-called stablecoin TeraUSD and its sister token Luna began to crash. Asked about souring investor sentiment towards crypto, the entrepreneur said that his firm was “well-funded to sit out the crypto winter,” adding that it only needed about 20 employees. Is. “I think it will be a very different trajectory” for Web3 and crypto companies that are in financial trouble, he said. “We want to be very mindful of the current environment, build carefully, and make sure we’re bringing in revenue as soon as possible.”

Nxyz’s team is currently divided into Mountain View, Austin and New York.

While the stock prices of crypto trading platforms like coinbase Come down significantly, the infrastructure powering “Web 3” remains a hot target. Firms like ConsenSys, MoonPay and Ramp have raised huge amounts of cash this year. “Web3 developers today lack the fast, flexible and reliable infrastructure to support their applications, which prevents widespread industry adoption,” said Matt Huang, co-founder and managing partner of Paradigm. “Nxyz has a truly outstanding team that has built the best data indexing infrastructure for Web3 and we are thrilled to support them at Paradigm.”

Still, Web3 has been a punching bag for some leaders in Silicon Valley, such as Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. According to John Lee, blockchain lead at the e-commerce firm, there is a “general restlessness” people have when it comes to Web3, there is no “generic term and definition”. Shopify,

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“Every time someone in the general public interacts with someone in the industry, they get a different definition, they get a different explanation,” Lee said. “It’s confusing people.”

Meanwhile, the place is rife with scams, including the infamous “rug bridge,” where fraudsters flee a fictitious token project after amassing enough cash. Ramaswamy admits that there have been “a lot of scams” in Web3. But he hopes more practical use cases like video games, concert tickets and remittances will eventually catch on.

such as whether Web3 is Google and . Could break the dominance of digital giants like? meta“The dice are loaded against” Ramaswamy, said Ramaswamy. However, employees of Big Tech firms are increasingly leaving to take on roles in crypto businesses. This also includes Ramaswamy’s eldest son, who, according to his father, had recently joined a Web3 company.

When asked about his former employer, Ramaswamy said he feels the company has become a victim of its own success. “I think Google is an incredibly successful company,” he said. “But its growth mindset, combined with a monopoly position, produces poor results.”

“Suppose there was only one toothpaste manufacturer for the whole of the UK, they would be like, yes £1 is not enough. We are going to chalk it up to £1.20,” he said. “Like Google, where it goes, ‘Everybody uses us for search, you can raise the price and that’s fine.’ I don’t think these people are evil” – “Don’t be evil,” a reference to Google’s code of corporate conduct – “I think this is a system that demands development at all costs.”

Google was not immediately available for comment at the time of publication. company previously told The Telegraph Newspaper that its ads “help businesses of all sizes grow and connect with new customers.”