Decentralized Rendering Engine Raises $30M as Metaverse Graphics Go Big

Multicoin, Alameda and the Solana Foundation are backing Render Network’s vision for a decentralized alternative to Pixar’s massive rendering farms.

Dec 21, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Dec 21, 2021 at 5:41 p.m. UTC

A decentralized alternative to Pixar’s mighty 3D rendering is poised to grow stronger after host protocol Render Network nabbed $30 million in financing, according to sources.

In a press release, Render Network, which allows digital artists to pay for pooled computer rendering power, said it will double its headcount, improve its “rendering engine” integrations and gear up for non-fungible token issuance as it looks to grow its community.

Rendering is the process of generating a photorealistic or non-photorealistic image from a 2D or 3D model by means of a computer program.

“We have only 10,000 out of potentially tens of millions of artists plugged in,” founder Jules Urbach told CoinDesk. He’s also the CEO of Otoy, a rendering software company closely aligned with the Render Network.

Facebook’s Meta rebranding has driven newfound interest in the future of virtual worlds, including who will own the metaverse. Against that backdrop, the Render project, which pools idle GPUs and pays their operators in RNDR tokens, is perhaps best understood as an infrastructure play.

That prospect captured the interests of key stakeholders in the Solana ecosystem, including lead backer Multicoin Capital, Alameda Research and the Solana Foundation. Sfermion, an NFT venture firm, also participated.

“The funding is essential for growing the Render Network,” Urbach said. “The things that we have to do are, frankly, pretty massive.”

Urbach said the round closed irrespective of Meta headlines. He declined to discuss financials. A representative at Multicoin confirmed the $30 million token deal.

Urbach said activity has “tripled” in recent months as more artists use the network to render complex artwork, such as 3D objects and animation, that their home computer can’t handle.

Render pools idle GPUs to create a peer-to-peer service network that Urbach said rivals Pixar’s massive rendering farms in power and is cheaper for artists than cloud services, like those offered by Amazon.

Its native RNDR, the payments token that node runners receive in exchange for their computing power, is already live on Ethereum and the layer 2 Polygon systwm. Superfast layer 1, or base layer, Solana is next, according to Urbach, who also has his eyes on Metaplex, that ecosystem’s NFT hub.

RNDR’s price spiked on the news and is up 34% over the past 24 hours, according to CoinGecko.

UPDATE (Dec. 21, 17:41 UTC): Adds price movement.

DISCLOSURE

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Danny is CoinDesk's deputy business editor. He owns BTC, ETH and SOL.