Digital Asset (DA) has raised $35 million in Series C funding, signaling a comeback for the enterprise blockchain startup a year after the sudden departure of former CEO Blythe Masters.
The funding came from a combination of new and existing investors led by Jefferson River Capital, the family office of former Blackstone president Tony James, and the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), which is working on a partial conversion to blockchain settlement using DA’s technology.
The stock exchange’s participation in the round represents a vote of confidence in the startup following a steady contraction of the market for bespoke distributed ledger technology (DLT) and the loss of several high-profile staffers at DA.
“Unlike other enterprise blockchain projects, we haven’t missed a deadline to date with ASX,” said Yuval Rooz, Digital Asset’s CEO, who succeeded Masters. Industry-wide testing of the new ASX system starts in Q1 of next year, a process which could take about a year, said Rooz.
The new funding round brings the total amount raised by Digital Asset since its establishment in 2014 to $150 million. For now, DA is not sharing the names of the new investors.
The company plans to use the proceeds to grow the community around its Digital Asset Modeling Language (DAML) and spread the technology to new platforms and across a broader range of industries.
A long and winding road
DA initially billed itself as a builder of private blockchains for banks and financial infrastructures, but shifted its focus to DAML, an open-source system for dealing with smart contracts. The protocol can run on top of a number of blockchain and non-DLT distributed architectures and has been integrated with Hyperledger Sawtooth, Hyperledger Fabric, Corda, Amazon’s QLDB and the cloud-native Aurora database.
Still, Rooz argues that the company kept close to its original mission.
“From my perspective, this is not a new direction. This is the right extension to what we have done,” he said “I don’t think there are many startups that haven’t changed direction at least once. Look at Slack – it started out as instant messaging for gamers.”
Rooz said the company would be hiring the applicable staff (the current headcount stands at roughly 140), but not any more than normal.
“I’m not saying because we have raised some funding we need to hire another 30 people or something,” he said. (Through a spokeswoman, he later added: “The funds raised by our series C will be used for hiring talent, enabling new integrations, community development and partner enablement.”
Rooz acknowledged the tough conditions in the enterprise blockchain market.
“I think there has been such a hype in the enterprise blockchain space and now some people cannot deliver on the hype,” Rooz said.