Aave’s Lens Protocol, a Web3 social graph that can be used to build decentralized social media, has raised $15 million to expand decentralized social media.

The funding round was led by IDEO CoLab Ventures and saw participation from some major VCs including General Catalyst, Variant, and Blockchain Capital, as well as a few decentralized autonomous organizations, like Flamingo DAO, DAOJones, and Punk DAO, according to an announcement by the protocol.

The round also included a raft of well-known angel investors, such as Uniswap CEO Hayden Adams, OpenSea co-founder Alex Atallah, former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan, Sandbox co-founder Sébastien Borget, NFT artist Emily Yang (pplpleasr), Mirror.xyz founder Denis Nazarov, and Polygon co-founder Sandeep Nailwal.

“The new funding will provide resources for the continued development of the Lens ecosystem that benefits web3 users, creators and builders,” Lens Protocol said.

Lens Protocol is built atop Polygon, a popular Ethereum scaling solution.

Social media platforms built on Lens can use smart contracts and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to tokenize social data, making a user’s posts, preferences, and network both proprietary to that user, and transferable to any other social network built on Lens.

Lens Aims to Make the Internet More Fair and Democratic

Lens Protocol aims to integrate the best of the web as we know it with a focus on the new innovations of web3 to make the internet “more equitable, fair and democratic for social media networks,” Aave Companies CEO Stani Kulechov told TechCrunch in a recent interview.

Kulechov explained that when large entities like Meta own the infrastructure for the Internet and social media networks, it creates less say for users and less choice, not just in Web3 or on the Internet but in any industry.

Lens Protocol is trying to allow individual users to have more control over their data, and how it is shared.

“We want to build a social media network that doesn’t only benefit the users but everyone who contributes to it like developers as well,” Kulechov said.

Lens Protocol has been in beta since May 2022 and has granted access to only a handful of users thus far.

The team hopes to be a “neutral and flexible” protocol that allows developers to build a variety of use cases ranging from gaming to social media.

Developers Continue to Build Applications on Lens

Kulechov said that a number of developers, including Orb, Riff, and Enso Collective, are building Web3-native mobile applications.

The goal is to create a future where all applications and algorithms share monetization that comes from different use cases and features.

“We’re filling the ecosystem with applications that are familiar to traditional social media, [and] we envision a future where all these applications and algorithms share monetization that comes from different use cases and features,” he said.

While Aave’s Lens Protocol is not the first web3 product or even protocol of its type, it aims to create accessible options that can appeal to a larger, more diverse, and less crypto-insider group.

“What’s most valuable for us, we want to create a protocol that’s open for contribution,” Kulechov said, adding:

“A protocol where we can’t make all the decisions for users and developers, where we can have an open platform and discussion on how Lens Protocol can evolve in the future.”

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