Crypto exchange FTX, led by Sam Bankman-Fried, has received a lot of press this year for acting as a lender “of last resort”, launching bids for distressed companies such as BlockFi, as the contagion crisis spread across the crypto markets.
Today, it was announced that the venture arm, FTX Ventures, is co-leading a $20 million strategic round into Coral, the makers of Anchor, the most popular Solana development framework.
The funds will be used to launch Coral’s first flagship product, named Backpack. The premise for Backpack is intriguing – an interactive wallet that delivers crypto-native experiences through executable NFTs (xNFTS). The idea is that users can access all of their assets and decentralised apps in one place.
It seems simple, but that’s kind of the point. I have written many a time about how one of crypto’s biggest problems remains how clunky the wallet experience can be. Additionally, jumping between browsers, tabs and wallets is a nuisance. Backpack, therefore, aims to help smooth out these issues.
Backpack is designed to be a flexible tunnel, allowing users to land at applications, games or assets across blockchains – again, something which crypto has not been very good at to date. This problem is possibly why FTX Ventures had their heads turned by this investment, alongside other participation from Jump Crypto (co-leaders as well), Milticoin Capital, Anagram and K5 Global.
This is potentially the ‘iPhone launch moment’ for Web 3 with xNFTs as apps, xNFT marketplace as the App Store, and CoralOS as the iOS. It is surprising that Backpack hasn’t been built in Web3 until now
Ramnik Arora, Head of Product at FTX
Of course, this is a crypto startup and, like any startup, poses a healthy degree of risk. Add into the mix the turbulent macro climate, where financial assets across the sphere are getting hammered, and it is definitely a nervous time to be a start-up.
Nonetheless, the raise is a powerful signal of intent and some welcome good news, something we are getting precious little of these days.
For FTX, they’ll be hoping that Coral’s Backpacker will deliver on its potential and provide returns that only crypto startups can. Backpack has been launched recently into Private Beta, and – purists will be delighted to know – the code is open-source.
I wrote recently about how well run FTX has been, alongside Binance, when compared to most exchanges. The company has been led prudently by Sam Bankman-Fried, and as the bear market has arrived, the gulf between FTX and Binance and some of the other more aggressive players in the space has become glaringl obvious.
As is the nature of the game, this is a longshot investment. But FTX continues to expand their portfolio and grow their influence on the cryptocurrency industry. It will be hoping that someday down the line, the money mentioned in this article is peanuts compared to what it is worth.
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