One of crypto’s most cash-rich ecosystems just got a little richer as it prepares for a major DeFi push.
On Thursday, the NEAR Foundation announced the close of a $150 million funding round. Su Zhu’s Three Arrows Capital led the raise, with participation from major crypto-focused funds including Mechanism Capital, Dragonfly Capital, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Jump, Alameda, Zee Prime and Amber Group, among others.
According to Dragonfly general partner Ashwin Ramachandran, the raise was completed “end to end” in two weeks, reflecting a level of excitement for the up-and-coming chain.
“NEAR has done a great job from a technology standpoint, and we want to help them achieve a level of developer, user, ecosystem adoption which reflects their current level of technology innovation,” he said, noting that the raise was an opportunity to get more crypto-native investment firms involved in the ecosystem.
The valuation of the tokens was not disclosed, aside from having been priced at a one-month time-weighted average price (TWAP).
The raise is the latest ploy from a remarkably well-capitalized ecosystem attempting to position itself for an influx of users and DeFi protocols.
In October, NEAR’s Aurora, which will enable developers to fork Ethereum-based contracts and deploy Solidity code on the chain, raised $12 million.
Additionally, NEAR announced a $800 million ecosystem fund later in the month, with $350 million devoted to DeFi grants and liquidity mining.
“Before there was the feeling that you had to pull the ecosystem, but now the ecosystem is pulling you,” NEAR co-founder Illia Polosukhin said at the time. “Now it’s time for the DeFi money legos to spawn.”
Sources familiar with the matter told CoinDesk that at least two of the funds involved in the latest raise also made verbal commitments to provide liquidity to emerging DeFi projects on the chain as they launch.
“For a lot of people, NEAR has always been an interesting layer 1, but somewhat slept-on due to the lack of applications in the ecosystem,” Dragonfly’s Ramachandran added. “There wasn’t much to do, but once we helped people realize this is about to happen, they were excited because they’ve been aware of the team for a while.”
As is often the case before a major announcement, NEAR has been climbing in recent days, up 18% on the week to $18.30.