Thirdweb raises $24M at a $160M valuation from Haun Ventures, Shopify and Coinbase for its Web3 development kit

There’s been a lot of hype about “Web3”, but the reality is that it’s still a largely nascent and fragmented concept, and that has led to Web3 startups building platforms to engage with it more easily getting a lot of attention. In the latest development, a startup called thirdweb — which has created a development toolkit to make it easier to build and launch Web3 products such as blockchain games, NFTs, DAOs, marketplaces and more — has raised $24 million, a Series A that values the London startup at $160 million.

Thirdweb plans to use the funding to continue enhancing its developer toolkit — which currently covers some 10 features spanning areas like smart contracts, decentralised logins, publishing tools and more — to expand support for a wider array of blockchains; to bring on more users; and to grow its team, both via hiring and potentially acquisitions — all in aid of getting Web3 to become more mainstream.

Thirdweb has been live for just nine months, but it’s been on a roll: CEO Steven Bartlett told TechCrunch that to date some 80,000 developers — which range from independent creators through to organizations like Afterpay and New York Fashion Week — have built a range of NFT items, DAOs, games and other applications using its framework, And as of this week, some 150,000 smart contracts have been deployed across six blockchains. (And in case you’re wondering, he said Polygon is currently the most popular: “Cheaper fees is the straightforward answer,” he said.)

Projects are collectively generating $1.5 million in revenue weekly, although thirdweb is not getting a cut of that. There are no charges or commissions on thirdweb at the moment, the one exception being some of thirdweb’s enterprise customers paying a fee as part of their procurement policies, Bartlett said.

The funding being announced today also speaks to some momentum. The round is being led by Haun Ventures (the firm founded by well-connected ex-a16z partner Katie Haun), with strategic participation also from Coinbase Ventures and Shopify.

Coinbase had already been working with thirdbase — for example the latter is providing a development platform for creators to build NFTs for Coinbase NFT — and this will tie the two closer together. Shopify, meanwhile, is “seeing us as an investment but also a partner,” Bartlett said. He added that there is an integration in the works in which thirdweb’s toolkit will be made available to Shopify customers that want to introduce web3 products to complement, or within, their Shopify-powered storefronts.

These three join an already-long list of investors who backed thirdweb in its $5 million seed round. (That list included Mark Cuban, Gary Vaynerchuk, and more.)

The gap in the market that thirdweb is addressing is one that Bartlett said he discovered with his co-founder Furqan Rydhan when they were working on building a blockchain application themselves.

“We saw what hard work it was to build the application from the ground up,” Bartlett said. He compares the dearth of tools available to speed up blockchain work to the earlier days of the web we know today, when people also had to code websites, and all of the features within them, from scratch, versus modern times where one can, say, integrate a payments flow by way of a few lines of code and an API that connects to tech built and operated by someone else.

The opportunity was clear: build the same kind of tools for Web3. “We realized we could release as a product what we’d built to work on our own app,” Bartlett said. “We wanted to provide blockchain developers with the same kind of easy-to-use infrastructure, and tools, that they have in Web2.”

The co-founders’ past experiences likely also played a role here. Bartlett likes to tackle opportunities when they’re only starting to emerge: was an early adopter and proponent of social media and specifically brands leveraging it to grow, long before brands came to recognize social media strategy as a must-have. Rydhan, meanwhile, has a lot of experience around API-based tools for developers. Among his many past roles, he was the founding CTO of Applovin, a major player in apps monetization.

Part of Web3 still being a nascent, idealised concept is that the actual world of Web3 as it’s unfolding is still full of a lot of bumps and bruises. Right now, it doesn’t feel like a day goes by that you don’t hear about how yet another blockchain project has been hacked, or how prices are tanking in the once much-hyped world of NFTs; and that’s before you even start to consider that the flip side often just feels like a lot of empty and very self-interested speculation.

Thirdweb is part of that ecosystem, even if it’s not a direct operator of any blockchain exchange or smart contract, but Bartlett claims that they unexpectedly found that it hasn’t seen a drop in its business by association.

“The surprising thing is that the builders have continued building,” he said. “Our weekly growth activity hasn’t slowed down and has continued to increase. Our hypothesis has been that although there are fluctuations people who are building projects in the long term will continue regardless of the crypto or macro outlook.”

That’s one of the things that’s also been compelling to investors, too, he added. “Our data showed that we had bucked the trend.”

“Our mission is to accelerate the next generation of the internet and we believe thirdweb will play a critical role in realizing that,” said Katie Haun, founder and CEO of Haun Ventures, in a statement. “As complexity to develop in web3 continues to increase, the experienced team at thirdweb led by Furqan and Steven have built an elegant solution that allows developers to build fast while avoiding costly mistakes. I’m pleased to see proven founders of this caliber dedicating their next chapter to crypto and look forward to supporting their efforts.”

Longer term, I wonder if thirdweb will continue to pour resources into building all of its own tools, or whether it will open up, marketplace style, to bring in third-party developers including those that will emerge as specialists in specific categories. For now, Bartlett said that plan is to continue pursuing a full-stack approach on its own steam — aided potentially by acquiring teams and tech — not least because it’s still an early mover and has the opportunity to do so. It’s also why it’s opting not to introduce fees: do as much as you can to pick up critical mass as early as you can.

“We believe this particular play is winner takes all,” he said. “Our objective is to acquire as much of the base as we can. in future we will take a small fee for enterprise level clients, or a small fee for certain toolsets.”

Equity Monday: Crypto hacks and a scuttled AI IPO

Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines.

It finally happened, ladies and gentleman and our non-binary friends. The Holiday News Slowdown has arrived. Late, I might add, but still here at last. But that did not stop Grace and Alex from making you your weekly kickoff show!

Welcome to the final Equity Monday of the year. Here’s what we got into:

  • The Indian PM’s Twitter account was hacked, and used to promote bitcoin. Not a great look for the crypto world.
  • The SenseTime IPO is on hold after the US government “added SenseTime Group Limited to the Non-SDN Chinese Military-Industrial Complex Companies List,” per the company. The AI listing’s delay is not a great look for Chinese tech market liquidity.
  • Fuse added $25 million to its Series B, helping bring insurance products to Southeast Asia.
  • Thirdweb raised $5 million to bring together no-code and Web3, which we think is pretty cool.

Don’t forget that Equity is back Friday for a final news roundup, and that we have two holiday eps coming during the last two weeks of the year! Talk soon!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 a.m. PST, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.

Gary Vaynerchuk, Mark Cuban back web3 project tool Thirdweb

Thirdweb, a software startup for web3 projects, closed on $5 million in funding from a group of high-profile business leaders, entrepreneurs and creators, including Gary Vaynerchuk and Mark Cuban.

The company launched its free tools three months ago for developers to build, launch and manage their web3 projects without writing any lines of code. Thirdweb was created by Social Chain founder Steven Bartlett and Furquan Rydhan, who was founding CTO of Bebo and AppLovin.

Thirdweb, with offices in London and San Francisco, enables the addition of features, including NFTs, social tokens and currencies, marketplaces for buying and selling tokens and NFT loot boxes and drops, in a few clicks.


Thirdweb co-founders Steven Bartlett and Furqan Rydhan. Image Credits: Thirdweb

Bartlett told TechCrunch that he had been intrigued by web3 and cryptocurrency and followed the space for over four years. When Bartlett met Rydhan, who said he was an early investor in crypto, they clicked over web3.

“We knew that builders would want to build in this space and that they would need a tool,” Rydhan said. “We started with a base set of ideas, and over the course of a year, built out Thirdweb and now have hundreds of customers integrating SDKs. Like the way Stripe made it easy to plug in, our code is similar, but we wrote it to give to everyone.”

They’ve been working with the early adopters on features, some of whom have been using Thirdweb for over a year. They also say companies like Nike, Disney, Bumble and Meta are already itching to begin building apps and products, like blockchain games, NFT platforms, DAOs and creator projects, for the metaverse, web3 and NFT spaces.

While it’s still early, the company just crossed over its 500th unique project built using its tools. Some of the immediate use cases have been with art, but now Bartlett and Rydhan are seeing more complex web3 apps being built and gated communities that want to create a space.

Thirdweb’s goal is to get to over 1,000 developers, teams and companies using the tools, and Rydhan said the company is “well on our way to doing that.”

The new capital will be used to hire both on the technical and growth teams and will focus on marketing and video assets to educate users on its tools. Thirdweb will continue to be free to use until royalties and fees are programmed into the sales of NFTs that are launched. At that time, the company will take 5% of the royalties of secondary sales, which means the company’s compensation is in direct proportion to the success of its customers, the co-founders said.

Web3 is happening and NFTs are here for the rest of our collective lives,” Vaynerchuk said via email. “Look at what happened from 1995 to 2000 on the ‘internet’ and use that history lesson to deploy how much will be ‘fixed’ in web3 over the next half decade. I’m excited to see Thirdweb accelerate this shift. Fifteen years ago, no one believed that the world would be full of social media creators and artists. Web3 is now giving them the opportunity to own their creations and get a fair share of the profits, and I think that’s something you don’t want to miss. I believe in this space, I believe in this team, I believe in their vision, I believe in the opportunity and I believe in their execution.”