The app’s main goal is to give users full control of their communities and private communications.
Web3 Startup Towns Raises $25.5M in a Seed Funding Round
Web2’s main idea is connecting people, and companies like Twitter and Facebook, now Meta, built their empires using this idea. The problem was a high price of service so users were commoditized to sell ads. Startup project Towns is willing to change that once and for all.
The project is based on the idea of moving messaging on-chain, and today its backers announced a $25.5 million investment led by Andreessen Horowitz.
Ben Rubin, co-founder of Here Not There Labs says: “The problem communities [face] is coordinating and collaborating and unlocking their collective mind share.The tools we’re using are, for the most part, owned by other organizations, whether it’s Discord, WhatsApp, or Telegram.”
“The team’s vision for creating a digital town square where members can define the borders, set the rules, and build the world they want is an ambitious goal that is uniquely achievable through the promise of decentralization and web3,” Sriram Krishnan, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, added in a statement.
Others companies like Benchmark and Framework Ventures also took part in a seed funding round. Here Not There Labs was co-founded in 2020 by Rubin—the former CEO and co-founder of Houseparty and Meerkat—and Brian Meek, former CTO for STRIVR Labs and former general manager of engineering at Skype. They position Towns as a group chat protocol and app designed for online communities to build better “hometowns” and communicate freely using end-to-end encryption.
Rubin also appointed: “Towns app aims to take the town square idea and put it on the Ethereum blockchain using smart contracts, which will also allow communities to trade NFTs and play games. The problem we’re solving beyond getting end-to-end encryption is portability. Everything is open-source, and in the long term, we think it’s really important.” He also added that he believes on-chain communication is the obvious next step in what is possible with blockchain technology: “It’s an evolution of what you can do with the ideas behind any blockchain technology. You start with storing value, then you move into computation, now it’s entering this idea of how can you secure coordination and collaboration.”
A DAO is a business structure where control is spread out rather than hierarchical. DAOs use smart contracts on a blockchain, with participants using governance tokens to vote on different actions. Technically, DAO can live on any platform that allows messaging, but most live on Discord and are subject to Discord’s terms of service. Now Towns is about to move Web3 projects away from platforms like Discord, and Telegram, including Dragonchain’s Den, Matrix, Console, and Nansen Connect.
“Any group can use Towns to assemble and chat freely in a space designed to their needs— without ever having to worry that some organization will change the rules, profit off their activity, or take away their rights,” according to the company.
Behind Towns will be the forthcoming Towns DAO, which will act as the governing body where each DAO or town has representation. Once Here Not There Labs transitions control to the DAO after initial stewardship, DAO members can vote on the protocol roadmap, technical upgrades, and how the DAO’s treasury will be managed.
“As a builder in communication, and somebody who deeply cares about how people come together online—which is what I’ve been doing throughout my entire career—I thought there’s something beautiful and magical about the idea of people owning and operating that kind of connection and those experiences,” Rubin said.
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