Forta launches with $ 23 million to bring better security to smart contracts – TechCrunch


Blockchain cybersecurity startup OpenZeppelin this morning announced a $ 23 million investment in Forta, a security service for smart contracts.

Andreessen Horowitz led the round, including CEO and co-founder of OpenZeppelin Demian Brener described as 3x oversubscribed. The investment has also attracted capital from Coinbase Ventures, True Ventures, and Blockchain Capital, among others.

According to Brener, OpenZeppelin will retain a stake in Forta.

Forta is a neat project that comes at an interesting time for the blockchain community at large. When bitcoin first hit the market, it sparked interest as a potential medium of exchange, or perhaps as a store of value. This latter use case ended up being the key bitcoin value offering. But as bitcoin matured, other blockchains were built that featured more native programmability, allowing developers around the world to take advantage of smart (self-executing) contracts for a multitude of use cases.

Ethereum is one of the most famous blockchains for offering smart contracts, which its foundation describes simply like “program[s] this [run] on the Ethereum blockchain. The question is more nuanced, but that will suffice for our needs today. Forta, in turn, wants to help secure smart contracts in the blockchain market.

We summed it up as an attempt to make Web 3.0 more secure using the DNA of Web 3.0 when we were chatting with Brener, and he agreed. By that, we mean that Forta isn’t precisely the kind of company TechCrunch tends to write about when it comes to raising venture capital funds; instead, Forta is almost an attempt to empower a community of developers to create the tools they need to secure their own projects.

The heart of Forta, Brener explained, is a community of “agent writers” or developers creating pieces of code that track down threats – on layer one or two and side chains – that fall under the jurisdiction of the community. one of the four main risk groups. , namely cybersecurity, financial, operational or governance. The other half of the Forta project is made up of nodes, or basically what runs the agents themselves.

According to OpenZeppelin, much of the code used to write Forta agents will be reusable, which could help code to be written once and then deployed with variations across many chains. That’s what Brener means when he thinks of Forta as helping developers in the larger blockchain world help themselves.

And the concept is not idle. According to a statement from Forta, the team behind the project believes the “pace of innovation on public blockchains” is fast enough that no “centralized solution can effectively respond to these evolving risks.” Thus, threats attacking the decentralized market will need to be addressed, according to Forta, through even more decentralized activity.

TechCrunch was obviously curious about how Project Forta would make money. Brener said in order for the project to become a business, he will first need to help his community thrive. Some of that is opening its doors a bit more today, allowing more developers than in its private beta to write agents.

Assuming Forta can attract as many developers as it hopes it will become a centralized source of smart contract security tools. From that point on, making money will no longer be impossible, although it will be interesting to see precisely which business model Forta ultimately chooses.

In terms of organizational centrality, Forta is now run by a group of people. Over time, the company could become a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, said Brener. If this is confirmed, the blockchain community will have succeeded in taking external capital and internal knowledge, merging the two into a development community, and not only building security tools for smart contracts, but it will have succeeded in doing so. under the auspices of its own smart contract. (DAO). So it’s both a venture capital story and a meta-moment on how far the crypto world has come in terms of taking charge of itself.

I’m sure at some point in the paragraphs above I got a little wrong. Such is the risk of covering the nascent efforts to build security tools at the forefront of the digital economy. But what matters more than any bickering is that the blockchain world is striving to create the tools it needs to keep smart contracts secure; in doing so, the use of smart contracts should become less risky. And less risk means more appetite for the market.

This is something that a16z, with its huge crypto-focused bets, and companies like Coinbase are more than supportive. The dollars flowing to Forta are a rounding error for its wealthy backers, even though its possible impact on their preferred market could be anything but.

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