Aave Companies, the tech company that develops protocols and applications that incorporate decentralization and blockchain technologies, announced today that $15 million in funding has been raised for Lens Protocol – the user-owned social layer of the Internet. The new funding will provide resources for the continued development of the Lens ecosystem that benefits web3 users, creators and builders.
IDEO CoLab Ventures led the round with participation from General Catalyst, Variant, Blockchain Capital, and Palm Tree among other prominent VCs such as A. Capital, Seed Club Ventures, Robot Ventures, and DAOs such as Flamingo DAO, DAOJones, Punk DAO, DAO5 and Global Coin Research. Prominent angel investors include Uniswap CEO Hayden Adams, OpenSea Co-founder Alex Atallah, Entrepreneur Balaji Srinivasan, Sandbox Co-founder Sébastien Borget, Emily Yang (pplpleasr), Denis Nazario (Mirror.xyz) and Polygon Co-founder Sandeep Nailwal, among others.
"It is more clear than ever that an open, interoperable, and decentralized social layer is needed to create a more creative, pluralistic, and human internet. We are excited about the new possibilities for connection and expression that these underlying technologies allow, and we are thrilled to support the Lens team on this journey,” said Joe Gerber, managing director at IDEO CoLab Ventures.
At the foundation of Lens Protocol are the key concepts of ownership and portability on the social web. Using web3 technologies such as blockchain, smart contracts, decentralized storage and NFTs, Lens reimagines the web as a social ecosystem of decentralized apps that users can access seamlessly through a universal profile rather than by logging into multiple, siloed sites. This profile holds the user’s data, including their social graph and follower network as well as the digital artifacts they create, which can include texts, images, videos and more. This is user social capital. By putting ownership and social capital into the hands of people, Lens aims to transform the way we create value, share and monetize on the Internet.
“Our vision at Lens is to accelerate the adoption of the next-generation of the internet powered by human connection – the people-powered social layer,” said Stani Kulechov, founder of Lens Protocol. “People are driven to connect and share with others – be it news, photos, entertainment, opinions, etcetera. Lens creates a more social, open, equitable and democratic internet – one that is secured by blockchain technology and governed by participants. By preserving digital identity and enabling portability, Lens alters the internet landscape. We believe user empowerment will lead us back to the open web, with the addition of ubiquitous social experiences, diverse content, novel monetization models and profitable new businesses that share revenue equitably with users and creators.”
With Lens, profiles, activities and followers are not merely numbers in privately-hosted servers but assets saved on decentralized storage and portable from one application to another. Creators are free from walled gardens and can establish direct relationships with their followers. With on-chain visibility into follower activities, creators can identify and develop effective engagement and custom monetization frameworks.
"Lens is working toward building a platform that empowers users, creators, and entrepreneurs," said Nick van Eck, partner at General Catalyst. "With their open technology, data, and algorithms, Lens is poised to transform social networking by driving more value to users and content owners."
"Stani and the team are bringing to life user-owned, publicly accessible social graphs - one of the unlocks for a more user-centered social networking paradigm,” said Li Jin, co-founder and general partner at Variant. “Lens has already attracted dozens of third-party developers building creative applications atop Lens Protocol - and that is just the beginning."
Launched as a technology stack without a front-end client, the Lens ecosystem has grown to become a network with third-party social networks launching novel clients and algorithms that tap Lens’ open data layer. Without the constraints of closed networks, open social benefits the entire ecosystem as it scales. To date, prominent apps, such as OpenSea and Stripe, have integrated with Lens.
“We share Lens’ vision of the open and decentralized social web based on user ownership,” said Nilesh Rathore, co-founder and CEO of Orb. “We are seeing user empowerment – based on web3 technology – enable new experiences, diverse content, and flexible monetization. It’s early days in web3 social and we’re just starting to understand what this vision and technology can deliver.”
About Lens Protocol – The Social Layer for Web3
Lens Protocol is founded on web3 technologies that preserves user ownership over their digital identity, activities and relationship. With an open technology stack, builders can create social front-ends or integrate Lens social capabilities into existing web3 applications. Launched in May 2022, Lens is in beta. To date, over 100 custom applications have been built on Lens, showcasing the flexibility of the protocol. Lens was developed by Aave Companies, developers of the Aave Protocol, one of the most widely used decentralized finance markets in the world.
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About Aave Companies
Aave Companies is a technology company founded by Stani Kulechov in 2017. The company builds smart contract-enabled protocols, applications and tools that incorporate decentralized blockchain technologies and token-based economies. Aave Companies is focused on developing technology and applications that increase access to financial and social markets, empowering people and creating human connection. Widely known for creating the Aave Protocol, one of the most widely used decentralized liquidity markets fully governed by AAVE token holders, Aave Companies continues to be active in DeFi and periodically contributes to the Aave DAO through proposing and building meaningful upgrades that benefit the Aave community.