The Mina Ecosystem, which operates the "lightweight" Mina blockchain, announced today that it has raised $92 million to help attract world-class developers through grants. The goal is to advance the design and development of the Mina Protocol, a cryptocurrency protocol with a fixed, succinct, blockchain sized at 22 kB -- about the size of a few tweets. That makes it possible for users to quickly and directly access it from their smartphone and other blockchains.
The $92 million financing was led by FTX Venture and Three Arrows Capital, with the help of hedge fund Brevan Howard (and its co-founder and billionaire Alan Howard), Amber Group, Blockchain.com, Circle Ventures, Finality Capital Partners, Pantera, and five unnamed Mina backers. The proceeds from the credit raise will help finance grants to attract developers and drive Mina's adoption as the leading zero-knowledge platform within Web3, the company said.
"Our main goal right now is to give out grants to people who are doing effective work for Mina; this will help us do that much more effectively," Mina Foundation CEO Evan Shapiro told ZDNet. "We've given out more than a thousand grants so far to people who are running block producers, building tools, developers, and others that build community… this [funding] will help us like really double down and grow what we're able to do."
What is Mina?
Like many of the major movers and shakers in the crypto universe today, the Mina Protocol saw its genesis in 2017. That year, a team at O(1) Labs, headed by Shapiro and Izaak Meckler, developed the Mina Protocol with the intent to use cryptographic computing as a means to give users greater control over their digital lives. Four years later, in March 2021, the Mina mainnet was born with the objective of giving anyone using a smartphone the ability to participate, build, exchange, and thrive in the blockchain -- securely and privately.
Privacy and individual control are paramount to Mina and in line with the objective of Web3 -- the third iteration of the World Wide Web in which individual users, not corporations like Google or Facebook, have control over their online presence, especially their financial and social data.
The Mina Protocol enables a more secure and private Web3 where users own their data through the deployment of so-called "zero-knowledge proof"-based applications or smart contracts. A zero-knowledge proof, or ZKP, is a method that verifies the truth of data without giving up the data itself. It gained notoriety recently as a result of zk-rollups as a scaling solution to Ethereum's high gas fees, Mina notes.
Blockchain for -- and by -- everyone
Mina says that it takes ZKP-based technology to a new level by putting it in the hands of people using Mina's ZKP smart contracts known as "zkApps." The ease of zkApps's programmability allows Web3 applications that preserve user data privacy to be securely verified by smartphones and browsers as well as securely bridged to other blockchains.
ZKPs are ingrained into the core design of Mina, enabling encapsulation of the entire chain's history in a single ZKP. This is why Mina's blockchain is able to maintain a small, fixed size of 22kB (Bitcoin is currently around 380 GB). "Zero-knowledge proofs are super exciting because they open up a lot of possibilities for cryptocurrency… particularly around privacy and security for the crypto space," Shapiro said.
For Shapiro, this latest financing is a giant leap toward Mina's goal to become the go-to privacy and end-to-end security layer for Web3, while remaining powered by its users. "We project that zero-knowledge proofs will become increasingly important in Web3, as it will need real user privacy and good security to become more real. And as that happens, we want to be able to use these grants to engage more with the ecosystem and help grow what's happening there," he said.