Taiko Labs, a crypto startup focused on scaling the Ethereum blockchain, raised $22 million across two seed rounds.
The first was a $10 million raise led by Sequoia China that closed in the third quarter of 2022, and the second was a recent $12 million round led by Generative Ventures, co-founder Daniel Wang said in an interview.
Other investors in the two rounds included IOSG Ventures, GSR and GGV Capital, and angel investors such as Patricio Worthalter, founder of POAP, and Tim Beiko and Anthony Sassano of the Ethereum Foundation. Taiko did not disclose a valuation.
Taiko is building a scaling solution for the Ethereum blockchain — one it’s crafting to emulate Ethereum as closely as possible in design and ideology, according to an announcement. It describes its product as a Type 1 zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine. Ethereum inventor Vitalik Buterin previously wrote in a blog post that Type 1 zkEVMs are “what we ultimately need make the Ethereum layer 1 itself more scalable.”
“Our design decisions are to stick to the EVM spec and indeed the Ethereum spec as closely as possible, one because we love Ethereum and we want to extend it… and also because we find it affords the best properties,” said Matthew Finestone, a Taiko Labs co-founder.
The company released the latest version of its testnet earlier this week, which it hailed as “the next step on the road to a decentralized, Ethereum-equivalent ZK-EVM.”
From Loopring to Taiko
Wang and Finestone previously worked together at Loopring Foundation, a trading and payment protocol built on zk-rollup technology. Wang was its founder and CEO from July 2017 until November 2021, while Finestone spent three years with the project as its head of business.
Wang, who spent four years at Google earlier in his career, said that, after Loopring, he hoped to build a decentralized social network but ran into a problem. “There’s no way I can deploy my social network because the infrastructure is not there. There’s no way it will be scaled,” he explained. Thus, the idea for Taiko was born.
“We want to bring blockchain technology closer to improving the life quality of everyone around the world,” Wang said. “We are still very far away from being ready to change everybody’s life.”
Wang added that Taiko’s first two rounds of financing will secure the successful launch of its mainnet but that the project will likely raise more capital, in part to set up an ecosystem investment fund for luring dApps and developers to the ecosystem.
In structure, too, Taiko will look to follow Ethereum’s lead. “We are going to quickly convert the organization into a non-profit one. Ideally we’ll operate very similarly to the Ethereum Foundation,” Wang said.