Move over, Solana: Aptos becomes the new crypto unicorn

The most recent funding round brought Aptos valuation to over two billion, highlighting investors’ still-present appetite for L1 blockchains.

Aptos logo from the company's website.

As reported by Bloomberg, Aptos Labs, the web3 startup behind the Aptos blockchain, has raised $150m in the last funding round held on Monday, bringing its total valuation to over two billion. The round was led by FTX Ventures and Jump Crypto, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Apollo, Franklin Templeton, Griffin Gaming Partners, and Circle Ventures.

Founded less than a year ago, Aptos so far scored $350m of funding, a stunning performance in the wake of crypto winter. But what is even more surprising is that venture capital is still flowing to L1 protocols, as investors’ attention has long shifted to GameFi, tokenization, and metaverse. What perhaps attracted such money to Aptos was its team and promising tech stack.

What is Aptos?

Aptos is a standalone Layer 1 blockchain that bills itself as a faster, more secure, and more scalable alternative to any other L1 chain such as Solana, Ethereum, and Avalanche. The project was launched by former Meta engineers Mo Shaikh and Avery Ching. The duo of founders first worked together on Zuckerberg’s failed crypto projects, Diem blockchain and Novi wallet.

“The decentralization movement struggles to reach escape velocity because reliability, safety and usability can not be taken for granted,” Mo Shaikh wrote in The Genesis of Aptos, explaining why the crypto industry needs another L2. “We are the original creators, researchers, designers, and builders of Diem, the blockchain that was first built to serve this purpose. While the world never got to see what we built, our work is far from over.”

Aptos inherited the main technical feature of Diem, which is Move programming language, originally developed to make transactions cheaper and more efficient. Move was used to implement all the key elements of Aptos, such as accounts, transaction fees, a standard library, validator node management, and configuration.

As explained by Twitter user @tracecrypto1, Move was built for secure smart contracts. “Like Rust, it’s memory-safe – it prevents dangling references, provides referential transparency for immutable references, and prevents memory leaks. These properties reduce the attack surface area of Move code.”

Aptos’s features

Aptos uses a consensus mechanism dubbed “DiemBFT v4,” derived from the protocol initially developed for Diem. The network is intended to be Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT), which refers to the Byzantine General Problem, where decentralized parties have to collectively agree on a certain truth despite the presence of dishonest members. The blockchain is expected to run on the proof-of-stake or similar consensus model, as its documentation mentions the role of validators.

Apart from BFT protocol, Aptos also boasts of numerous security features protecting its users from being hacked. The network supports the ability for any account to safely recover its private key, as well as key rotation systems for validators.

Although the project is still in the testnet stage, its performance is already impressive. Aptos’s time to finality (TTF) is less than one second, placing it among the fastest chains like Fantom and Avalanche. The current TPS is 1,000, but the team plans to reach 10k in the nearest future, with 160k being the final goal.

A comparative table of most popular L1 blockchains and Aptos.

The future of Aptos

Currently, the crypto community’s sentiment about Aptos leans toward skepticism. From the technical point of view, Move is an important innovation, but Solidity is still the backbone of DeFi, as Ethereum rivals rush to introduce EVM compatibility to attract developers. The language structure of Move and Solidity is too different for the seamless migration of existing DApps to Aptos.

So far, Aptos won the initial recognition, securing funding from the most renowned crypto VC funds, but it doesn’t mean that the project is predetermined to be successful. Terra’s meltdown, 3AC bankruptcy, and Celsius collapse all proved that having billions in assets under management doesn’t automatically guarantee a miraculous ability to distinguish between Ponzi schemes and quality projects. The key determinant of Aptos’s future is whether the new blockchain will be able to attract developers willing to build on it. And that task may be quite challenging given Aptos’s unique language and ecosystem.