A16z Leads $25M Round for Web3 Startup Building Online Towns

Here Not There also received backing from Benchmark and Framework Ventures.

AccessTimeIconFeb 23, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:08 a.m. UTC

Here Not There has raised $25 million in a Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) to build out Towns, a Web3 group chat protocol and app that lets online communities build blockchain-based gatherings in a fully decentralized way, according to press materials shared with CoinDesk. The startup also received backing from Benchmark and Framework Ventures.

The announcement comes during a harsh crypto winter for venture capital investments, though Web3 was one of the most-funded sectors in January.

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  • Towns offers an end-to-end encrypted chat protocol that lets communities create programmable, self-governed “town squares” where users can assemble and chat without worrying about whether the app owner will decide to prevent access, profit from the activities or change user rights. Communities can control settings like administration, privacy and roles, and create tailored experiences that can include rewarding member participation or allowing members to sell non-fungible tokens (NFT) in the chat. Any community can build new clients or application programming interfaces (API) on the protocol for control and customization.

    “The team’s vision for creating a digital town square where members can define the borders, set the rules, and build the world they want is an ambitious goal that is uniquely achievable through the promise of decentralization and web3,” a16z general partner Sriram Krishnan wrote in a blog post draft shared with CoinDesk.

    Here Not There Labs was founded by Ben Rubin, co-founder of group video chat app Houseparty and livestreaming app Meerkat, and Brian Meek, former chief technology officer of virtual reality training company STRIVR Labs and former general manager of engineering at Skype. Here Not There Labs plans to decentralize the Towns network and transfer governance and control to the Towns DAO, or decentralized autonomous organization.

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    Brandy Betz

    Brandy covered crypto-related venture capital deals for CoinDesk.