Nexus Laboratories raises $25 million from Pantera and Lightspeed to expand ‘zero-knowledge’ privacy tools

Nexus Laboratories, Inc. is a virtual machine (software that emulates a physical computer) that wants to strengthen trust in the Internet. To do this, Nexus is betting on a type of cryptography called “zero-knowledge proofs” or zk proofs, which allow one party to prove to another that a piece of data is true, without transmitting the underlying data. A simple analogy: a driver’s license scanner that reveals that someone is 21 years old without revealing her name or address. Nexus believes zk tests are powerful and wants to make them accessible to any developer.

Nexus took a step toward that goal on Monday by announcing that it had raised $25 million in a Series A funding round. The round was co-led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Pantera Capital. Faction Ventures, Dragonfly Capital and Blockchain Builders Fund also participated, bringing the company’s total funding to $27.2 million.

Nexus envisions “a new future for the Internet where the integrity of calculations and data is protected by evidence,” Daniel Marin, the company’s founder and CEO, said in a statement.

Whether it’s artificial intelligence, cloud computing or blockchains, virtually any data set can be verified with zk-proofs. For now, however, Nexus is focused on rollups, the term for a Layer 2 blockchain built on top of a Layer 1 mainnet, like Ethereum. Rollups are designed to help the underlying network scale by batching transactions and sending them to the main blockchain in a single transaction.

“We expect every decentralized network to see mission-critical applications of zk-proofs,” said Lauren Stephanian, general partner at Pantera Capital. “We believe there will be thousands of zk test-driven builds in the very near future, and they will all require test generation.”

So why should we care about the verified calculation? Marin said Fortune that in an increasingly on-chain and AI-driven world, the use cases are far-reaching. This could mean personality testing, verifying tax software, or even authenticating crucial but sensitive data in the defense industry. “Anything that requires a lot of security, you need proof of it,” he says.

What could hypothetically be the largest data set that can be verified in the future? The Ethereum blockchain, she responded. This would mean testing the entire calculation, from block zero to the present, and compressing it into a single test of perhaps 100 bytes. “So you could summarize the entire history of blockchain in a single proof,” he explains, which would be updated with each new block. But he admits we are still a long way from that.

Investor Haseeb Qureshi, managing partner of Dragonfly, said in a statement that the company first met Marin when he was a computer science and cryptography student at Stanford. “My company led the initial investment in Nexus when Daniel graduated because we were impressed with his experience and vision for how to improve performance and reduce barriers to using zero-knowledge proofs,” Qureshi said.

Earlier this month, the company announced Nexus 1.0, the first major release of its zk-proof virtual machine. The software uses cryptography to “compact proof aggregation” as well as “optimize and parallelize verifiable computation” across a network of machines.

With the funding, Nexus aims to expand its product offering, support early adopters and maintain its commitment to the scientific community. The company is also considering collaborating with financing. He is launching an open source developer community and the early phases of a new voluntary computing network, which he hopes can break the record for the largest calculation ever performed.

It’s complicated to understand the possibility of what verifiability and truth in calculus mean, Marin admits, “but there are a lot of possibilities here,” he insists.

Leave a Comment