EigenLabs, which aims to make Ethereum as fast and flexible as centralized server networks like Amazon Web Services, announced a $50 million funding round led by Blockchain Capital on Tuesday.
Sreeram Kannan, founder and CEO of EigenLabs as well as an associate professor at the University of Washington, Seattle, declined to provide the implied valuation of his company. Other investors in the round include Coinbase Ventures, Polychain Capital, Electric Capital, Hack VC, and Finality Capital Partners.
“One of the main reasons why blockchains aren’t able to support the original vision of ‘Hey, let’s do social media and Uber and all those crazy things,’ [is] because the infrastructure is not ready for it,” Kannan said. Fortune.
He believes that his company’s flagship product, CleanLayeris a potential solution to the blockchain infrastructure crisis, joining a flood of other infrastructure-focused startups that have secure hordes of species during the last crypto bear market.
“By reducing the cost of trust and capital, [EigenLayer] opens up opportunities for entrepreneurs to experiment and build while significantly easing the financial barriers that have impeded innovation in the past,” Bart Stephens, founder and managing partner of Blockchain Capital, said in a statement.
Unlike startup founders who jumped straight from the dorm to the boardroom, Kannan hails from an academic background. During his master’s and doctoral studies, he researched peer-to-peer wireless networks and quickly became interested in blockchain technology. When he landed on the Seattle campus of the University of Washington, he finally took time off to launch his own startup. And in 2021, he founded EigenLabs.
Kannan saw that the performance of Ethereum, a decentralized cloud computing network — or not owned by a tech conglomerate — paled in comparison to the centralized networks of servers run by companies like Amazon and Google.
Specifically, when developers on Ethereum run their code on the blockchain, they don’t have a choice of which servers, or Ethereum nodes, run their programs. This creates redundancy, as many servers are processing the same code.
According to Kannan, developers who rely on EigenLayer will be able to choose which nodes run which parts of an application’s code. This capability allows programmers to create a division of computing labor, a capability that has long been available to developers using, for example, AWS.
To show the utility of EigenLayer, he and his team are building a “data availability layer” on top of their product, or a faster way to write data to the Ethereum blockchain, whose capabilities Data entry, according to Kannan, is currently reminiscent of computers in the 1990s.
But that’s just a promise from EigenLayer, which Kannan now hopes to grow by adding staff, funding code audits, and supporting developers looking to build with his product.
“Our goal,” he said Fortune“will be exclusively about maximizing the surface area of innovation, which is the new things you can create, which are going to get into the next group of app makers, who then get into the next group of users .”