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Former Google Ads boss raises $40M for ‘Web3’ search startup

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 dealmaker in many cryptocurrencies and “Web3”, followed by Coinbase, Sequoia and Greylock. is a partner — also invested. Ramaswamy said he will remain 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 his Neeva in 2019 after stepping down as his senior vice president at Google. $150 billion advertising business He says he was too disillusioned with the constant focus on sustaining growth at the expense of users.

and March blog post 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, major smart contract bugs known as blockchain bridges include: Opened the industry to megahacksBridges From Binance And Axie Infinity Maker Sky Mavis Suffer Violation of 9 digitsA 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%.Several companies that have successfully raised funds have confirmed valuations stay flat Also autumnNxyz 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 started crashingAsked about deteriorating investor sentiment towards cryptocurrencies, the entrepreneur said his company “has enough money to survive the crypto winter” and needs only about 20 employees. added. “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 Consensis, MoonPay and Ramp raised a lot 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 is punching bag Like some leaders in Silicon Valley twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey When Tesla CEO Elon MuskAccording 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 staff at big tech companies Increasingly Reluctant to Participate in Roles in Crypto BusinessAmong them is Ramaswamy’s eldest son, who recently joined the Web3 company, according to his father.

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.Company previously told The Telegraph The company’s ad says it “helps businesses of all sizes grow and connect with new customers.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/10/12/former-google-ads-boss-raises-40-million-for-web3-search-startup.html Former Google Ads boss raises $40M for ‘Web3’ search startup

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