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RISC Zero raises $40M to simplify zk-proof cryptography for blockchain developers

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The Seattle-based startup RISC Zero, the developer of a type of technology that allows blockchain developers to provide enhanced security for network transactions using zero-knowledge proofs, today announced that it raised $40 million in an early-stage round.

The new Series A funding was led by Blockchain Capital, a well-known venture capital firm in the blockchain market, and joined by existing seed round investor Bain Capital Crypto. Other investors also participating in the round included Galaxy Digital, Delphi Digital, RockawayX, Alchemy, IOSG, Maven 11, Fenbushi Capital, Algaé Ventures and Tribute Labs’ Zero Dao.

Zero-knowledge proof technology, or zk-proof, is a cryptographic method by which one party can provide information to another without revealing the underlying information. For example, it is a way that one person can show another person that a particular statement is true, such as they are who they say they are, without revealing their identity. This same technology can be applied to blockchain transactions to validate them without revealing the two parties transacting, the amount in the transaction or any other information.

“RISC Zero’s mission is to equip developers and infrastructure providers with novel cryptographic tools to power the next generation of trustless, scalable, and decentralized computation,” said Brian Redford, chief executive of RISC Zero.

RISC Zero develops virtual machines that implement zk-proofs, or zkVMs, that allow developers to build zk-powered applications without the need to know how to write the cryptographic code themselves. They can then build the apps themselves using conventional programming languages such as Rust and C++. Its technology is also blockchain agnostic, which means that it can be used arbitrarily on different blockchain networks.

Redford said that the company will focus on building what it calls its Bonsai computing platform. Using it, developers will be able to use its network to build massively parallel zk-proving functionality in any programming language, on any chain. “This funding round will enable RISC Zero to bring its Bonsai computing platform to market, supporting rapid application development and deployment in both cloud and decentralized environments,” Redford added.

The Bonsai computing platform is still in early development, but the company has already implemented a few use cases for it. At the moment it can be used for a core zero-knowledge proof service and an ETH Relay for accessing the network from the Ethereum blockchain. The former allows developers to use it as a standalone service to integrate directly with their distributed apps and the latter connects it to the Ethereum network so that it can be called as a service.

Image: Nepool/Shutterstock

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