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The NFX Team · @NFX · Nov 2021



Lido solves the problems associated with staking: illiquidity, immovability, and accessibility – making staked ETH, SOL, and LUNA liquid and allowing for users to participate in staking with any amount of ETH, SOL, or LUNA.

When using Lido to stake your ETH, for example, users will receive a token (stETH), which represents their ETH on a 1:1 basis. It effectively acts as a bridge bringing ETH 2.0’s staking rewards to ETH 1.0.

Users can use Lido’s stETH in all of the same ways that they can use ETH: sell it, spend it, and since it is compatible, you can use it in DeFi as collateral for on-chain lending. Lido is adding liquid staking to more networks with Aave’s release to be announced soon.

Lido was founded in 2020, subsequently raising $51M in an ICO on May 5, 2021. They also raised a $22M venture round on May 5, 2021.

Lido’s stETH coin is currently valued at $6.46 Billion.


SushiSwap is a type of decentralized exchange called an automated market maker (AMM), which lets users trade cryptocurrencies without the need of a central authority. It was founded in August 2020 by a pseudonymous group of developers.

SushiSwap’s Founders forked Uniswap to create a more community-oriented automated market maker (AMM). It technically mirrors Uniswap in many ways, but it added community features like a governance token and staking rewards in response to concerns about Uniswap being too centralized.

To attract users to the new protocol, SushiSwap promised token rewards if they locked up funds in a special pool on Uniswap. This is referred to as a “vampire attack,” since it led to liquidity being drained from Uniswap and added to SushiSwap. However, to the surprise of many users, before the funds were moved to SushiSwap, its Founder Chef Nomi removed $13M.

Several days later, Chef Nomi returned the funds to the pool and apologized to users. However, this early incident apparently did little to deter SushiSwap users. It’s now valued at a $1.57 Billion market cap.


1inch is a DEX aggregator that searches for deals across multiple decentralized exchanges, offering better rates than any individual exchange. It searches over 60+ liquidity sources on Ethereum, 30+ on Binance Smart Chain, 30+ on Polygon, Arbitrum, and Optimistic Ethereum.

It was founded in July 2020 by Russian developers, Anton Bukov and Sergej Kunz. In December 2020, they raised a $12M Series A. They are now valued at a $815M market cap.

Yield Guild Games

Yield Guild Games (YGG) is a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that invests in NFTs used in virtual worlds and blockchain-based games. YGG enables “play-to-earn” gaming, allowing gamers to earn tokens by playing blockchain-based games, most notably Axie Infinity.

They also lend in-game assets (NFTs) so gamers can participate in blockchain-based games, which often require some initial investment to start playing. Gamers can then pay back the loan after they’ve played more of the game and earned assets of their own.

YGG has raised a total of $22.4M since its founding in the Philippines in 2020. It’s now valued at $528M.


Syndicate is using crypto to expand access to venture capital. They are creating a decentralized investing protocol and social network, enabling new models for investing. Their first product allows anyone to start an investing syndicate on the blockchain for less than $100, 120x less expensive than traditional methods.

Founded in January 2021, they’ve already raised $21.8M from a16z, Kleiner Perkins, Coinbase, Balaji Srinivasan, and others since their founding in January 2021.


Royal is building a music marketplace where you can buy ownership in songs directly from your favorite artists. You can then earn royalties with them as their music gains popularity.

Led by Justin Blau, an EDM artist known as 3LAU, and JD Ross, a Co-Founder of home-buying startup Opendoor, Royal is squarely in the music and startup worlds. Blau said that he’s been exploring NFTs full-time since Covid has kept him from touring. He’s been very active in the NFT community, working on various projects to help musicians better monetize their work.

In August 2021, Founders Fund and Paradigm led a $16M round in Royal. Still in the early stages, Royal is poised to grow, hopefully following a similar growth trajectory to Audius, another web3 music startup.


Mirror is a decentralized publishing platform owned by its writers and content creators. It’s built on top of Ethereum and mints essays published on the platform as NFTs, which lets content creators monetize and crowdfund from readers.

Launched in 2020 by former a16z partner, Denis Nazarov, Mirror raised from Union Square Ventures at a $100M valuation in May 2021 with earlier participation from a16z.


XMTP is building a crypto-native communication protocol that connects communities, applications, and users. It’s a network where users control their identity, reap economic benefit from participation, and one single entity isn’t in control. “It’s basically just a new way to email using wallets,” according to Co-Founder and President, Shane Mac.

Mac and his Co-Founder, Matt Galligan, are well-connected serial Founders with previous exits. They’ve already raised $25M in funding from a16z, Coinbase Ventures, and others since their founding in 2021.


Axelar is the interoperability protocol and infrastructure aiming to connect all blockchain ecosystems, applications, assets, and users. Its network makes cross-chain communication as simple as using http(s) protocols on the web.

Platform developers can plug-in their blockchains to other ecosystems, and application builders and users can leverage a simple protocol and API to access global liquidity and communicate with the entire ecosystem.

Founded in 2020 by Sergey Gorbunov (PhD MIT) and Georgios Vlachos (MSc MIT), who previously worked together on the founding team at Algorand, Axelar has raised $28.8M from Polychain, Coinbase, DCVC, and others.

Anchor Protocol

Anchor is a savings protocol offering low-volatile yields on Terra stablecoin deposits. Its ​rate is powered by a diversified stream of staking rewards from major proof-of-stake blockchains, and therefore can be expected to be much more stable than money market interest rates.

The protocol defines a money market between a lender, looking to earn stable yields on their stablecoins, and a borrower, looking to borrow stablecoins on stakeable assets. Any third-party application is free to connect and earn interest without restrictions — no minimum deposits, account freezes, or sign up requirements.

Anchor Protocol raised $20M on March 17, 2021 from Galaxy Digital, Pantera, and others.

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