On December 7th, the renowned crypto venture capital firm a16z published a list of exciting trends in the crypto industry for 2024.
This report including the advent of a new era of decentralization, reshaping future user experiences, the rise of modular technology stacks, the combination of AI and blockchain, from play to earn to play and earn, AI becoming game makers, and crypto providing guarantees, formal verification becoming more accessible, NFT becoming ubiquitous brand assets, and SNARKs (succinct non-interactive knowledge proofs) becoming mainstream.
This article will list and analyze projects in the nine areas identified by a16z, focusing primarily on a16z's investment projects, selected based on project status, funding situation, and personal understanding.
Entering a New Era of Decentralization
Over the past few years, Web3's "living laboratory" has seen more anonymization practices begin, including the adoption of decentralized models that can accommodate apps with richer features and the utilization of Machiavellian principles by DAOs to design more effective decentralized governance models.
Party allows users to create on-chain groups on the Ethereum network, where they can initiate crowdfunding, on-chain voting and authorization within the group, execute Ethereum transactions as group individuals, and even play online games collectively.
According to official data, more than 9,000 groups have been created on Party, with 55,000 wallets participating, facilitating over 10,000 ETH in transactions. Party itself operates in a decentralized manner via PartyDAO.
PartyDAO completed a $16.40 million funding round led by a16z on June 10, 2022, with participation from Dragonfly, Uniswap Ventures, and others.
Fingerprints is a community and platform focused on digital art. It has a shared treasury and a collection of valuable NFTs curated by a community committee.
Fingerprints operates as a DAO, and any user can join and become a member by acquiring 5,000 PRINTS Tokens or one Voxelglyph NFT. Members are exposed to the economic value of the collections, can interact with leading blockchain artists, collectors, and curators, and can participate in governance through proposals and voting.
Fingerprints received a round of funding led by a16z in September 2021, but did not disclose the amount or valuation. The current market capitalization of PRINTS is $9.10 million, but trading is sparse.
Future User Experiences
Developers are keen to build front-end UXs that can reshape crypto applications, such as simplifying user login application passwords, programmable and easy-to-manage smart accounts, embedded wallets, multi-party computation (MPC), and advanced RPC endpoints.
Dynamic Labs is a multi-chain based identity verification and authorization platform. The platform offers features such as embedded wallets, Crypto-Native login, Profile, and multi-chain wallets, as well as authentication.
In addition, Dynamic Labs also offers a customizable integrated service that can put crypto wallet technology in the backend for beginner users or in the frontend for Web3 native users.
On December 13, Dynamic Labs completed a $13.5 million fundraise led by a16z and Founders Fund, bringing its total funding to $21 million.
Modular Technology Stack
The greatest advantage of open-source modular technology stacks is that it unleashes permisionless innovation, allows participants to specialize, and spurs more competition.
Stackr is a modular rollup SDK that introduces micro-rollups, enabling each function in dApps to be developed, optimized, and maintained as an independent state machine.
Stackr Labs is also developing pre-constructed state machines and cross-chain modules to allow micro-rollups from different language environments to interact.
Stackr Labs completed a $5.5 million seed funding round led by Archetype and attended by a16z CCS on November 9th. The project also made it to a16z's Crypto Startup School 2023 in May this year.
AI and Blockchain Joining Forces
Decentralized open-source crypto networks will democratize AI innovation and make it safer for users.
The Gensyn network is a machine learning computing protocol claiming to marshall the world’s computing resources into a global supercluster accessible to anyone at any time.
Gensyn plans to use blockchain to decentralize computing resources and use tokens to buy and sell processor cycles to lower costs and achieve trust-free access.
Gensyn completed a $43 million Series A funding lead by a16z on June 12, bringing its total funding to $49.50 million
Play to Earn Evolution
What the industry really needs are games that are fun and allow players to earn more value. P2E will transition to Play-and-Earn, significantly distinguishing between gaming and "work."
EthXY is a one-touch poker MMORPG game based on Telegram, with PvP and poker combat mechanics.
Proof of Play
Proof of Play is a blockchain game startup company aiming to create fun chain-wide games.
AI Becoming Game Makers
AI creates legends, terrain, narratives, and logic for games. Crypto provides the ability to understand, diagnose, and punish AI when problems arise.
Pahdo Labs is a game studio that's building an anime-styled action RPG game, Halcyon Zero, and launching a UGC platform.
CCP Games is an independent game developer, founded in 1997.
In software development, especially smart contract development, more accessible formal verification methods are needed to minimize the occurrence of security incidents.
Buildspace is a crypto developer community, providing live training courses for Web3 developers and a communication environment for Web3 developers.
Convex is a global state management platform for full-stack TypeScript development and Web3 developers.
NFT Becoming Ubiquitous Brand Assets
More and more well-known brands are bringing digital assets to mainstream consumers in the form of NFTs.
Sound xyz is a music NFT platform aimed at becoming the new home for music discovery on the internet and is open to all artists.
Ready Player Me
Ready Player Me is a metaverse identity platform that allows users to establish virtual identities in the metaverse through NFTs.
SNARKs Becoming Mainstream
SNARKs allow untrusted "provers" to compute "cryptographic receipts" for certain computational workloads that cannot be forged.
zkSync is a L2 protocol based on the ZK rollup architecture.
Manta Pacific is a L2 network driven by zk-SNARKs and supported by the Manta Network, providing programmable ZK and developing ZK applications with Solidity.