Sridhar Ramaswamy, Senior Vice President, Advertising and Commerce, Google
Christian Bocci | Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
top former Google An executive wants his new startup to make blockchain search easier.
Sridhar Ramaswamy, who headed the internet giant’s advertising business from 2013 to 2018, has launched a new company called nxyz. The venture will officially launch Wednesday after attracting investment from several top investors, he told CNBC exclusively.
Armed with prominent Silicon Valley connection Rolodex, Ramaswamy raised $40 million in funding in May to create nxyz as a separate entity from his own privacy-focused search engine, Neeva . The round was led by his Paradigm, a multi-cryptocurrency and “Web3” dealmaker, and Ramaswamy also invested in his Coinbase, Sequoia and Greylock partners. Ramaswamy said he will stay on as CEO of Neeva and also head up nxyz.
Nxyz was conceived earlier this year by a team of engineers at Neeva, an ad-free, online tracking tool blocking search engine. Ramaswamy founded Neeva in 2019 after a year ago he stepped down from his role as senior vice president of his $150 billion advertising business at Google. He says this was because he was disillusioned with the constant focus on sustaining growth at the expense of users.
A March blog post on Neeva’s website describes nxyz as “an experiment that brings the same user-first ethos of Neeva search to web3.” Web3 loosely refers to the idea of a more decentralized version of the Internet powered by cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens, and other technologies. Rather than being a big tech platform that uses people’s personal information to target you with ads, we encourage you to put data ownership in the hands of your users.
“For me, the big breakthrough in blockchain has been the introduction of the idea of distributed computation where you upload a piece of code to the blockchain and run the code there,” Ramaswamy said in an interview with CNBC. “No one is in charge. What the collective owns is decentralized storage. In addition, there is utility in the form of a native token currency designed to incentivize the system.”
Nxyz trolls blockchains and related applications for data such as how much money someone has in their cryptocurrency wallets and what NFTs they buy. We then use tools called APIs to stream this data in real time to developers. The platform currently supports Ethereum, Polygon, and Binance networks, and Ramaswamy said he is looking to include more networks over time.
unlike the neeba Google — The giant “Web2” Neeva is trying to confuse — nxyz’s Web3 search software isn’t aimed at consumers. Rather, it wants to provide clean blockchain data to large cryptocurrency companies in the same way Bloomberg sells access to financial data and news to Wall Street institutions with its terminal business. Ramaswamy has named cryptocurrency custodian BitGo as an early client it has partnered with.
He explained that parsing data from a blockchain is a messy process. Smart he contracts (programs that harden cryptographic applications) can be assigned specified tasks. But once you let it loose, it can be difficult to know what it’s actually doing. As an example, a major smart contract bug known as Blockchain Bridge left the bridge of Binance and Axie Infinity maker Sky Mavis with his nine-figure compromise, leaving the industry exposed to massive hacks. increase. A better understanding of the performance of these tools can improve security.
“Creating smart contracts that can do things is one thing, but we need a record of what they did and how they reveal it,” Ramaswamy said. “It all starts with ‘What’s in your wallet?'”
The launch of Nxyz comes amid crypto investors reeling from a significant drop in token prices. BitcoinThe world’s largest digital currency has fallen 70% from its all-time high. Key factors driving the current so-called “crypto winter” are the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes and the industry-wide liquidity crisis.
This has led to a tougher environment for crypto- and blockchain-focused startups looking to attract capital, with Pitchbook data showing VC investments in such companies fell by 76% in the previous quarter. billion down to $4.4 billion in the third quarter, down 37%. Valuations of some of the companies that have successfully raised are flat or declining. Nxyz declined to disclose the valuation.
Ramaswamy said the company was lucky to raise the money. Negotiations with investors he began in mid-April and were completed by mid-May. Around the same time, the so-called stablecoin terraUSD and its sister token luna began to crash. Asked about deteriorating investor sentiment towards cryptocurrencies, the entrepreneur said his company has “plenty of cash to survive the crypto winter” and he needs only about 20 employees. I added no. “I think it’s going to be a very different trajectory,” he said, from Web3 and the crypto companies that are in financial trouble. “We are very mindful of the current situation and want to build carefully and be profitable early on.”
The Nxyz team is currently split between Mountain View, Austin, and New York.
The share price of the crypto trading platform is coin base The infrastructure behind “Web3” remains a hot target. Companies like ConsenSys, MoonPay and Ramp have raised significant amounts of cash this year. Paradigm co-founder and managing his partner Matt Huang said: “Nxyz has a truly outstanding team who have built the best data indexing infrastructure for Web3 and Paradigm is thrilled to support them.”
Still, Web3 was a punching bag for some leaders in Silicon Valley. twitter With co-founder Jack Dorsey Tesla CEO Elon Musk. According to John Lee, the head of blockchain at an e-commerce company, the “common fear” people have about Web3 is the lack of “common terms and definitions.” Shopify.
“Every time the public has a conversation with someone in the industry, they get a different definition and a different explanation,” Lee said. “It confuses people.”
On the other hand, scams such as the infamous “rug pulling” are rife. A scammer flees his project with fake tokens when he has enough cash in his pocket. Ramaswamy admits that Web3 was “a lot of fraud”. But he hopes his cases of more practical uses, such as video games, his tickets to concerts, and money transfers, will eventually prevail.
Web3 is Google and meta, Ramaswamy said, “the dice are loaded” against start-ups like him. But more and more staffers at big tech companies are quitting to join roles in the crypto business. It seems that I did.
When asked about his previous employers, Ramaswamy said he believes the company fell victim to its own success. “I think Google is an incredibly successful company,” he said. “But that growth mindset combined with a monopoly position yields bad results.”
“Let’s say there’s only one toothpaste manufacturer in all of the UK and they’ll say £1 isn’t enough. We’ll raise that to £1.20,” he added. “Google is like, ‘Everyone is using Google for search, so it’s okay to keep raising prices.'” — Google’s Code of Business Conduct A reference to a certain “Don’t be evil” — “I think it’s a system that demands growth at all costs.”
By the time of publication, Google was not immediately reached for comment. The company previously told The Telegraph that its advertising “helps businesses of all sizes grow and connect with new customers.”