Consensys launched in 2014 as a home for startups seeking to tap the potential of a then-new blockchain called Ethereum, and earned a reputation for both innovation and a chaotic work culture. In the last two years, the company appears to have its stride thanks to the emergence of two flagship products: the Web3 wallet MetaMask and the crypto infrastructure platform Infura.
These days, ConsenSys has two divisions: ConsenSys Software Inc (CSI) and ConsenSys Mesh, which funds and incubates crypto startups. (ConsenSys Mesh funds the editorially independent Decrypt.) According to founder and CEO Joe Lubin, ConsenSys will use the funding to further build out MetaMask and Infura, as well as other Ethereum software tools it supports.
“It’s about growing the company organically and bringing the best and brightest into our ecosystem,” Lubin told Decrypt in an interview last week about the new funding. “There’s a lot of people from the world of Web2 technologies and traditional finance who are dying to get in.”
MetaMask has grown dramatically in the last year—recently hitting 30 million monthly active users—and so has Infura, but they are very different products. The former is primarily a wallet used by consumers to navigate Web3 while the latter is a suite of developer tools for building and maintaining crypto applications.
It creates a potential strategic challenge for one company to be serving both consumers and enterprise at once, but Lubin says he views MetaMask and Infura as complementary, in part because the wallet relies heavily on Infura to stay up and running, and will do so even more as it grows.
Lubin added that MetaMask will be ramping up its efforts to serve institutional clients and to provide more tools to link it to credit cards and other elements of the traditional finance industry. Part of this will entail MetaMask launching a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) and issuing a token to support new features of the wallet, though ConsenSys has provided few details about when this might take place.
In the meantime, ConsenSys—along with much of the crypto industry—will be watching closely to see when Ethereum will pull off its long-anticipated “merge” to proof-of-stake, which entails updating the blockchain to no longer use energy-intensive proof-of-work mining.
According to Lubin, who is also a co-founder of Ethereum, early indications suggest the proof-of-stake transition is set to go smoothly, and will occur later this month or in early April. As Decrypt reported last week, 10 million ETH is already staked in Ethereum 2.0.
At ConsenSys, Lubin says he remains committed to the ethos of decentralization that animates Ethereum. His top priorities include the “progressive decentralization” of MetaMask, and expanding Infura to serve “20 or 30” different blockchain protocols.
On a personal level, Lubin says he has learned to adapt as ConsenSys has evolved from a chaotic extension of Ethereum’s early days into a big company whose backers include the likes of JP Morgan and Microsoft. Asked whether he tries to model his leadership style after any prominent CEOs like Elon Musk or Tim Cook, Lubin replies: “None of them. My model for the ideal CEO is a chameleon who can agilely adapt to the environment and move quickly.”
Also investing in ConsenSys’s new funding are Temasek, Anthos Capital, Sound Ventures, C Ventures, Third Point, Marshall Wace, TRUE Capital Management, and United Talent Agency’s venture fund, which also invested in the Series C round.
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