Former Terra developer raises $15 million and applies lessons to new startup
Neel Somani, a former Terra developer, raised $15 million for his Solana-based cross-chain modular rollup startup, Eclipse, becoming one of the few to come out of the sunken TerraUSD stablecoin ecosystem with funding.
Somani formerly worked on Terranova, an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) project designed to connect the TerraUSD stablecoin ecosystem to Ethereum. However, when the project capsized following the collapse of TerraUSD, the developer moved forward and launched the Eclipse project.
Although association with Terra — the downfall of which wiped out approximately $60 billion — may have proved an obstacle, Somani didn’t let that stop him. The ecosystem had strong developers, and he wanted to foster something similar, Somani told The Block in an interview.
Over the following summer, in a three-week pre-seed round, Eclipse raised $6 million from investors, like Solana co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko and Polygon. The raise was followed by a $9 million seed round led by firms Tribe Capital and Tabiya, Blockworks first reported.
Somani sought to apply lessons he learned from his former work, such as avoiding a single point of failure. “If the blockchain I was building on failed, then I was completely exposed to that and there was really no way to mitigate that risk,” Somani said, adding, “Roll up as a service starts to make a lot of sense because as a roll up, you don't have to worry about security with our solution. You don't even have to worry about reliability because you can always change the L1.”
Formerly a Citadel quantitative analyst, Somani’s crypto engineering work began as a part-time endeavor, and he said he avoided publicity. Working on TerraNova, Somani simultaneously came up with the idea to take the Solana virtual machine, and “make it its own chain in some way, shape, or form.” When the Terra project crashed, Somani picked up where he left off, taking advantage of previous connections and his proximity to Chicago-based Solana headquarters, and founded Eclipse.
Early next year Eclipse will open source its first protocol release, according to Somani.
While Somani can count his success in investor capital, other noteworthy individuals from the Terra ecosystem are facing investigation, or evading arrest.
Authorities in South Korea recently arrested the former head of TerraForm Labs, the company in charge of Terra network development, a warrant that was later tossed out by a judge.
South Korean authorities also reportedly sought a red notice from Interpol against Terraform Labs founder Do Kwon, and later ordered the founder to surrender his passport.
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