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Katie Haun’s New Fund Joins $10M Round for Polkadot Lending Protocol Moonwell

Sam Kessler - Coindesk
2022-03-17 16:00
As Polkadot brings its hub-and-spoke vision for the future of crypto to the fore, investors are pouring money into the network’s decentralized finance (DeFi) building blocks.
Lunar Labs is the latest team to emerge, announcing Thursday a funding round of $10 million to fuel the development of Moonwell Artemis, a collateralized lending protocol for Polkadot’s Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)–compatible Moonbeam parachain.
The funding round, which was co-led by Hypersphere Ventures and Arrington Capital, is one of the first to feature participation from ex-Andreessen Horowitz General Partner Katie Haun’s new venture fund. Big names like Lemniscap, Robot Ventures, Signum Capital and others were involved.
Moonwell Artemis will work similarly to lending products like Aave, MakerDAO and Compound by allowing users to lend crypto and take out over-collateralized loans. The formula has proven successful in DeFi, with Aave, MakerDAO and Compound attracting $12.06 billion, $15.84 billion and $6.89 billion in crypto deposits, respectively.
Polkadot, which describes itself as a Layer 0 network, makes it easy for Layer 1 parachains like Moonbeam to securely communicate. This means users of Moonbeam – and therefore Moonwell Artemis – can easily transfer value across Polkadat networks without relying on problem-prone cross-chain bridges.
Since Moonbeam is EVM-compatible, users of Ethereum, Fantom and other EVM-compatible chains will be able to interact with Moonwell Artemis using familiar tools like Metamask.
As for why one might want to borrow crypto against high collateral, Luke Youngblood, who left Coinbase to co-found Lunar Labs, gives the example of paying rent.
“It’s great to be able to take out stablecoins and pay bills in the real world without having to sell some of your crypto,” Youngblood told CoinDesk, “especially if you have the long-term view that crypto is going to be worth more tomorrow than it is today.”
Moonwell Artemis is not set to launch until April, but Lunar Labs is already piloting its lending protocol on Moonbeam’s Kusama-based sister chain, Moonriver. (Polkadot projects typically launch first on Kusama, Polkadot’s canary network, which is used to test out new features but has emerged as a valuable ecosystem in its own right.)
The pilot lending protocol, Moonwell Apollo, launched on Moonriver on Feb. 10 and has already amassed $230 million in total value locked (TVL).
Over time, Lunar Labs says it plans to decentralize Moonwell product development via the Moonwell DAO, whose WELL governance token will be distributed to Lunar Labs investors, Moonwell users and other Moonwell community members. WELL won’t come with voting rights when Artemis launches, but holders will be able to stake it with the protocol in exchange for rewards.
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