Diem team members raise $200M to launch blockchain derived from it

Former Meta employees and key players behind the firm’s defunc stablecoin project Diem have raised $200 million to expand a new project dubbed “Aptos.”

Aptos was cofounded by former Novi — Meta’s crypto unit — strategic partnerships lead Mo Shaikh and tech lead Avery Ching. The duo arenow serving as the CEO and CTO for the new firm. Both left the company in December, prior to Diem being sold to Silvergate Capital in February this year.

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The team is building a decentralized Layer 1 blockchain that is partly based on Move, the coding language initially developed for Diem. The company is now in the process of growing its developer ecosystem and attracting projects to the blockchain, which it touts will be a cheap, secure and scalable network.

According to a March 16 announcement, Aptos’ $200 million strategic funding round was led by capital venture giant Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), along with backing from top firms such as Three Arrows Capital, FTX Ventures, Paxos and Coinbase Ventures.

The funding will be used to hire new staff and to support “companies, brands and builders” who are looking to develop projects on the Aptos blockchain, with the startup teasing that several DeFi, NFT, Web3, social media and payments projects are already in the works.

Speaking with TechCrunch, Aptos refused to disclose a specific valuation but suggested that it is “well off into the unicorn territory” of around $1 billion.

Alongside the funding announcement, Aptos has also launched a public devnet with an open-source codebase. The team told the publication that big names such as Anchorage, Binance and Coinbase have been providing guidance and contributing code for the devnet. The announcement stated:

“Later in Q2, there will be an incentivized testnet to help scale the network and stress test it as it marches toward mainnet. We invite validators and other infrastructure providers to join our community now in anticipation of that.”

Aptos expects Mainnet to launch in Q3 later this year, giving developers roughly six months to build projects before the network is live to the public.

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Related: Vale Diem: How Facebook’s ambitious stablecoin project came to an end

In a blog post late last month, Aptos emphasized that the focus of its blockchain is based on “absolute safety, extensible scalability, and credible neutrality,” while being able to work on its ideas without intense scrutiny from regulators like in the case of Diem:

“Since departing Meta (formerly Facebook) we have been able to put our ideas into motion, ditch bureaucratic red tape, and build an entirely new network from the ground up that brings them to fruition.”

“Aptos is using Move, the safe and reliable language originally developed for Diem. The ideas we conceived then are still relevant and will serve as an important foundation for a safe, scalable, upgradable Web3. Our plans for decentralization and permissionless access are progressing quickly and will be developed in the open,” the post added.