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Web3 startup Towns raises $25.5M led by Andreessen Horowitz

The new app will give users full control over their communities and private communications. Prepare for additional metaverse news.

Web2 was founded on the concept of connecting people, and companies such as Twitter and Facebook, which are now a part of Meta, built global enterprises on this concept. However, the connectivity they provided came at a price, as users were commoditized in order to sell advertisements. The new project Towns by Here Not There Labs intends to alter this.

Today, the project’s backers announced a $25.5 million investment led by Andreessen Horowitz, which is centered on the concept of moving messaging on-chain.

“The problem communities [face] is coordinating and collaborating and unlocking their collective mind share,” Ben Rubin, co-founder of Here Not There Labs, told Decrypt in an interview. “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.

Benchmark and Framework Ventures also joined Andreessen Horowitz in the Series A funding.

Rubin, the former CEO and co-founder of Houseparty and Meerkat, and Brian Meek, the former CTO for STRIVR Labs and former general manager of engineering at Skype, co-founded Here Not There Labs in 2020. They define Towns as a group chat protocol and new app designed for online communities to construct better “hometowns” and communicate freely using end-to-end encryption.

Rubin says that the Towns app wants to take the idea of a town square and put it on the Ethereum blockchain using smart contracts. This will make it possible for communities to trade NFTs and play games, just like a DAO.

“The problem we’re solving beyond getting end-to-end encryption is portability,” Rubin says. “Everything is open-source, and in the long term, we think it’s really important,”He also said that he thinks on-chain communication is the next obvious step for what blockchain technology can do.

“It’s an evolution of what you can do with the ideas behind any blockchain technology,” Rubin said. “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. A DAO is a business structure characterized by decentralized rather than hierarchical control. DAOs utilize smart contracts on a blockchain, and participants vote on proposed actions utilizing governance tokens. A DAO can technically live on any messaging-enabled platform, but the vast majority live on Discord and are subject to its terms of service.

Towns joins a growing number of projects aiming to move Web3 projects away from platforms such as Discord and Telegram, including Dragonchain’s Den, Matrix, Console, and Nansen Connect from the analytics platform Nansen.

“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.

Rubin explained that Towns will be governed by the Towns DAO. Members of the DAO can vote on the protocol roadmap, technical enhancements, and the DAO’s treasury once Here Not There Labs passes control to the DAO following initial stewardship.

“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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About MahKa

Web3 startup Towns raises $25.5M led by Andreessen HorowitzMahKa loves exploring the decentralized world. She writes about NFTs, the metaverse, Web3 and similar topics.

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