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VC roundup: PQShield clinches $37m, Renzo raises $17m

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VC roundup: PQShield clinches $37m, Renzo raises $17m

This week, blockchain startups and various crypto projects collectively raised more than $100 million in venture capital (VC).

Here’s a roundup of the funding activities between June 16 and June 22. The activity reflects a growing interest in diverse blockchain applications, from gaming and social networks to advanced cryptographic security.

PQShield raises $37m in series B round

Security startup PQShield emerged as this week’s biggest winner. It closed a $37 million Series B round to enhance its post-quantum cryptography solutions. 

Led by Addition, the funding round also included new investors such as Braavos Capital, Legal & General, and Chevron Technology Ventures.

PQShield’s technology is aimed at future-proofing cryptographic systems against quantum computer-based hacks, with notable clients including Nvidia and AMD. 

The company’s founder, Dr. Ali El Kaafarani, said that PQShield will use the new funds to hire more people and facilitate closer working relationships with its partners and customers. 

Renzo secures $17m in series A round

The second-highest amount of funding of the week went to the Ethereum (ETH) restaking protocol, Renzo.

It secured $17 million in a series A round led by Galaxy Ventures and Brevan Howard Digital Nova Fund. Earlier in January, the platform raised $3.2 million in a seed round led by Maven 11. 

Renzo enables users to restake various Ethereum assets, providing them with ezETH, a liquid restaking token usable across decentralized finance (defi) platforms. Data from DefiLlama shows that it currently has a market capitalization of nearly $115 million and a total value locked of more than $3.6 billion.

Particle Network bags $15m

Particle Network, a modular blockchain developer, also did well this week. The company raised $15 million in a series A round co-led by The Spartan Group and Gumi Cryptos Capital. 

The round, as reported by The Block, was structured as a simple agreement for future tokens and involved participation from SevenX Ventures, Flow Traders, and HashKey Capital, among others.

Previously, Particle raised $10 million in three funding rounds, bringing the total raised to $25 million. 

According to the company’s founder, Pengyu Wang, Particle will use the money to support its work on chain abstraction technology as well as expand its operations.

Sonic wraps up $12m series A round

Elsewhere, Sonic, a Solana (SOL) layer-2 network focused on gaming, raised $12 million in a series A round led by Bitkraft Ventures. Other VC firms that participated in the round included Galaxy Interactive and Big Brain Holdings. 

The project has raised $16 million in total, following a $4 million round in 2022, giving it a fully diluted valuation of $100 million. 

The funds will support Sonic’s mission to simplify Web3 gaming complexities and integrate with various gaming genres.

ZKX raises $7.6m

On June 19, ZKX, a pioneering social perpetual trading decentralized exchange (DEX), announced it had secured $7.6 million in total funding, including a recent $6.3 million seed round. 

Investors like Flowdesk, GCR, and DeWhales backed the initiative, which aims to enhance perpetual swaps through social trading features and cross-chain interoperability.

In its announcement, the company stated that it would use the fresh capital to introduce new features to the ZKX protocol, including social copy trade pools as well as expanding cross-chain interoperability to make perpetual swaps universally available.

The platform has also launched its native ZKX token on three major exchanges: Bitget, Gate.io, and KuCoin

Gudchain closes $5m investment round

Another gaming-focused project that won big in this week’s crypto VC action was Gudchain, an OP-stack-based layer-2 blockchain.

It secured $5 million in funding, led by Mechanism Capital. Other participants in the round included Manifold, Skyvision Capital, and Morningstar Ventures.

The blockchain aims to simplify web3 access for gamers and will serve as the foundation for Highstreet Market products. The platform has also reportedly signed five flagship games, with the team planning to launch them on-chain within six months. 

Other notable funding

Several startups also secured smaller, yet significant, funding rounds in the week:

  • Zeek, $3 million seed round: The decentralized social collaboration network raised $3 million from investors, including OKX Ventures and Animoca Brands.
  • Wasabi, $3 million in seed funding: The meme coin and non-fungible token (NFT) leverage trading protocol garnered $3 million, led by Electric Capital, to boost its defi offerings.
  • Bitwise, $2.5 million seed investment: Bitwise updated its S-1 form, revealing a $2.5 million seed investment for its Ethereum ETF, with Pantera Capital showing interest in further investments.
  • Farworld Labs, $1.75 million pre-seed round: The Farcaster-native gaming company closed a $1.75 million pre-seed round to advance its Farcade platform.
  • Ordinox, $1 million in pre-seed funding: The Cosmos-based automated market maker for BRC20s and Runes received $1 million led by DACM to support its development and security audits.