- Aligned is the latest startup to offer crypto infrastructure as a service
- The startup is founded by a veteran of Consensys
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As the crypto industry booms, the infrastructure it sits on has become evermore complex—spurring the rise of picks-and-shovels companies that help crypto firms deploy everything from nodes to staking to validation to computation to zero-knowledge proofs.
The latest to offer crypto infrastructure as a service is Aligned, a startup founded by Sam Cassatt, who made his name as Chief Strategy Office at the Ethereum incubator Consensys.
In an interview with Decrypt, Cassatt explained that Aligned offers the full gamut of infrastructure service but with a special focus on customized hardware that will help crypto projects run and optimize a wide variety of applications.
On Thursday, Aligned announced it raised $34 million from firms GSR, Altium Capital, Cavalry Fund, and Ninja4, and private investors who include the film producer and sports agent Happy Walters.
"Aligned delivers a robust suite of product offerings, including solutions for mining and high performance computing, staking and liquidity provisioning, while supporting decentralization through an immutable, full-stack infrastructure for DeFi. Aligned is designed to support a future built on natively decentralized technologies," said the company in a release announcing the funding news.
Cassatt says hardware is a capital intense business and that Aligned, which is already generating revenue, will use the funding primarily to build specialized equipment for its clients. Aligned's customers include the decentralized investment fund NeptuneDAO.
The market for crypto infrastructure providers has grown enormously, and is led by Consensys-aligned Infura and rival Alchemy, which has raised staggering amounts of money in the last year. Both firms likewise bill themselves as "AWS for crypto"—a reference to the cloud provider Amazon Web Services, which provides computing services to everything from tech giants to banks.
The emergence of infrastructure giants like Infura and Alchemy has been a source of contention in some corners. Most notably, the privacy hawk and founder of Signal, Moxie Marlingspike, published a widely-read blog post in January that suggested the widespread reliance on these firms amounted to a form of centralization that cut against the ethos of Web3.
Cassatt told Decrypt that he considers Marlingspike's concerns to be valid, but that some areas of crypto where decentralization is particularly important—such as block validation—have safely achieved this. "There will be multiple waves of centralization and decentralization," he said as the crypto industry evolves.