NEAR, a decentralized application platform that aims to build the open web, recently launched its early MainNet protocol after securing $21.6 million in their token sale. According to Coindesk, 40 investment firms joined Andreessen Horowitz in raising this substantial amount of money. NEAR also raised $12.1 million back in 2019, receiving investments from Metastable, Accomplice, Coinbase Ventures, and multiple other large companies.
NEAR was thrilled to announce their early launch and calls it ‘MainNet: POA’, with POA standing for ‘proof-of-authority’. MainNet POA is the first major release towards building a fully sharded and fully operational proof-of-stake blockchain platform. Sharding will enable NEAR to easily scale, grow, and manage its proof-of-stake blockchain. Sharding breaks the PoS blockchain up in multiple parts called ‘shards’. This requires node validators to only process a smaller number of transactions in the network, instead of all transactions. By doing so, nodes can process transactions much faster, and communicate with each other to still make it one functioning network.
This launch is said to be the first major update of a multi-phase rollout of the platform, that is expected over the upcoming months. The mainnet launch enables developers to create end-user-facing applications on top of the smart contract platform that runs on the NEAR blockchain, differentiating it from a TestNet release. This release is for early adopters and developers, that do not mind the restrictions that currently still apply to the POA. NEAR’s TestNet enables developers to build and test their applications more freely, until the final open MainNet release is there.
A Full Permissionless Blockchain
NEAR’s POA MainNet is not yet permissionless, meaning it currently still operates in a centralized way. NEAR aims to achieve a full permissionless PoS blockchain in the near future, after various stages described in their roadmap.
This first major update includes 4 foundation running nodes that validate the network. Token transfers are restricted to foundation tokens only. The Restricted mainnet is scheduled to launch June 2020. During this phase existing token holders and whitelisted validators will be able to join the network as early participants. The final phase will be a community governed mainnet, in which there will be no restrictions on transactions, normal inflation and rewards for helping to validate the network. In order to help validate the network and receive rewards, a sufficient (or delegated) stake in the network will be required. At the stage of a full permissionless, open-source network, anyone can contribute to the codebase.
Financial Support through Funding
The $21.6 million NEAR raised is not the first successful round they’ve had. Near also raised $12.1 million back in 2019, receiving investments from Metastable, Accomplice, Coinbase Ventures, and multiple other large companies. This kind of funding is not too uncommon in the blockchain industry. Various other projects have raised funds this way or are still looking to fund their developments. Examples of upcoming or ongoing token sales are Reality Gaming Group, Almond STO, and Alpha Gambling.
Reality Gaming Group and Almond STO have yet to announce when their token sale goes live, and how much they’re looking to raise.
Alpha Gambling is raising funding through a multi-stage token sale that is currently live with a $0.05 current price per token. They have already raised a soft cap of $300.000 and aim to raise $4.000.000 to fully build their decentralized gambling platform. Holders of Alpha tokens are making a profit as they are receiving 60% from the AlphaPlay revenue and from all of the following games.
By removing the human factor and by building the platform on the Ethereum Network, the team aims to build a fully transparent and fair gambling ecosystem. The Ethereum Network allows using smart-contracts to set game rules in advance and to automatically pay out prizes to winners to ERC-20 Wallet, making it possible to play anonymously. The first project is a betting platform Alpha Play where users bet on the movement of two crypto coins and double their bets in 5 minutes if they win. A coin that has gone up in price more or down in price less compared to the other coin brings a victory to a player. Before to play on real money, users can try with 1000$ demo money.
As we can see above, fundraising within the crypto space seems quite strong. Interestingly there has been a shift in the mode of raising funds with IEOs slowing down in 2020 after dominating the market in 2019 after raising over $1.7. Part of the reason why investors have lost enthusiasm in IEOs seems to be weak projects with poor ROI. However, this has created a demand for quality projects, and this is good for the crypto ecosystem. Also, there is increased attention being paid to venture capital with projects offering real-world problems or those that advance the development of the Web 3.0 being favored by venture capital firms.
That said, in the second half of the year, we can expect to see projects coming up with new creative fundraising ways as the financial markets recover for the recent downturn.