Space and Time, a Web3-native data platform that leverages business logic through a cryptographic protocol called Proof of SQL, announced it has raised $20 million in a strategic funding round led by Microsoft’s M12 fund.
Other participants in the round include crypto investment firm Framework Ventures, HashKey, Foresight Ventures, SevenX Ventures, Polygon, Avalanche, Stratos, Hash CIB, and Coin DCX, as well as several Web3 communities and angel investors.
Launched as part of Chainlink Labs’ "Startup with Chainlink" initiative that supports the development of Web3 startups, Space and Time uses the Chainlink price oracle platform along with other sources to pull data from blockchain protocols, decentralized applications (dApps), and off-chain systems with a goal of delivering enterprise-grade use cases to smart contract applications.
Startup with #Chainlink project @SpaceandTimeDB has raised $10 million from @hiFramework, @DCGco, @SamsungNext, @stratosxyz, and others to build a decentralized data platform.
Explore the protocol and how the team navigated the funding process 📺👇https://t.co/d5mWyeieho
— Chainlink (@chainlink) July 28, 2022
Earlier this year, Space and Time raised $10 million in a seed funding round led by Framework Ventures, with participation from Digital Currency Group (DCG), SamsungNext, and IOSG Ventures, among others.
According to the team, the fresh funding will be used to accelerate engineering and product development, with over 90% of the funds to be dedicated to the product and customer adoption of Space and Time.
“The really interesting thing as an innovator and a company like Microsoft is the portfolio,” Microsoft's blockchain lead Yorke Rhodes told Decrypt during last week’s Mainnet 2022 conference.
According to Rhodes, when investing in projects, “you think about it from a portfolio perspective; you are not focused on one thing, you are focused on a portfolio whenever there’s an interest, and you help them to understand, help them to learn and figure out how to do proof of concepts, and just push the bar forward.”
Unpacking Space and Time
As Space and Time CTO Scott Dykstra explained, Proof of SQL is "a novel cryptographic protocol that allows the decentralized data warehouse to not only return query results but in parallel also return a SNARK cryptographic proof that the data was untampered and the query was executed in a verifiably accurate way.”
“This allows an external verifier, such as a smart contract or oracle network, to 'double-check' that the data warehouse has not been tampered,” Dykstra told Decrypt.
According to the CTO, the protocol can be applied to various areas of the fast-evolving Web3 space, including decentralized finance (DeFi) and GameFi, opening up a whole new set of use cases.
“For DeFi, Proof of SQL promises new, complex financial instruments to be created on-chain. As DeFi protocols become more advanced, they often must access large data volumes and complex computation off-chain, but bring the results of that computation back on-chain for trade decisioning,” he told Decrypt.
For gaming, Proof of SQL allows end-game results and in-game events to be directly queryable by smart contracts. This means, for example, that with Space and Time as a trustless intermediary, developers can offer incentives to players on-chain and build new interactivity between smart contracts and gaming servers.
As for which blockchains the project will serve, Dykstra said that for now, its "popular EVM chains" like Ethereum, Avalanche, Polygon, and BNB Chain. "We are working on Sui support at the moment, and Solana is on the roadmap as well," he added.
Additionally, Space and Time will allow the business logic in centralized systems to be automated and connected directly to smart contracts. This is an important focus area for Microsoft as blockchain technology finds applications in a wide range of industries.
"As blockchain technology finds applications in a wide range of industries, Space and Time is building the foundation to shape this work in a Web3 environment. M12 looks forward to partnering in that journey,” Michelle Gonzalez, Corporate Vice President and Global Head of M12, said in a statement.
Space and Time will also integrate with Microsoft’s cloud computing service Azure to provide its customers with an easy on-ramp to access, manage, and perform analytics on blockchain-native data.
According to an announcement shared with Decrypt, thanks to seamless integration between major blockchains and vastly greater volumes of off-chain data, this partnership will help Azure to become a ”go-to cloud service for building Web3 projects.”