Nillion, a Web3 startup building non-blockchain decentralized networks, today announced that it has raised $20 million in an oversubscribed round led by Distributed Global to focus on its peer-to-peer storage and computation technology.
The startup builds infrastructure for decentralized peer-to-peer networks that allow for truly decentralized processing by mathematically sectionalizing data into nodes so that it can be computed simultaneously without the nodes being aware of the complete dataset. Nillion’s cryptographic technology is known as Nil Message Compute and provides nodes with permissionless, decentralized networking with security and privacy.
Unlike blockchain-based computing, it does not require distributed ledgers that fully replicate all of the data and all computation doesn’t require all computation to happen on any single node. As a result, security and privacy can be achieved and the nodes themselves are “blind” to the complete dataset and are only aware of the small portion of data that has been handed to them to compute.
An important feature of the technology is that it doesn’t involve communication between the nodes. Once a node is done transforming the data it has been handed, it can be reconstituted into the full dataset by the original processor without the nodes being aware. This provides an additional layer of security.
The mathematical model for Nillion’s technology was developed by the company’s chief scientist, Miguel de Vega. In addition to Vega, the company has built a team of more than 40 since its founding in November 2021, including the founding engineer from Uber and former employees from Hedera Hashgraph and Coinbase.
The company’s team said the technology has applications for decentralized credit scoring, decentralized trusted execution environments, private nonfungible tokens and decentralized secure storage services. Other potential use cases could provide solutions for healthcare records or other situations where user records on the network required analysis but needed increased security to avoid compromising individual privacy.
Nillion is currently prioritizing the development of its ecosystem development from this early stage of its protocol development and has seen significant interest from both traditional Web 2.0 companies and Web3 companies.
“We’ve had expressions of interest from over 120 companies wanting to test applications or build on Nillion, which shows the need for a commercially viable private computation network,” said Nillion Chief Executive Alex Page. “Data stored on the Nillion network is not only safe, but it can be used for extremely fast, private computations.”
In addition to funds from Distributed Global, the round included investments from Big Brain Holdings, Chapter One, GSR, Hashkey, OP Crypto, Salt Fund and more than 150 other investors. Page mentioned that aiming for so many investors was a deliberate decision by the company to avoid “excessively concentrated holdings” and thus have any small number of venture capitalists any incentive “dump” the company in the long term.
“It’s very rare to have a truly novel math innovation being built by an elite ‘Avengers level’ team,” said David Gan, general partner of OP Crypto. “Nillion could open a new universe of use cases blockchain never imagined. What proof of work did for blockchain, I think NMC may do for multiparty computation as a technology.”