Industry heavyweight Nasdaq has joined Citi and Mike Novogratz led Galaxy Digital in funding a $20 million Series-B round for blockchain startup Symbiont. This investment comes despite rumors that Wall Street’s interest in blockchain technology startups has cooled. Symbiont had previously raised $15 million during its seed round 2014 and Series-A in 2017.
“We are entering a much more realistic phase where people look at this technology and think seriously about where it makes sense to apply it and where it doesn’t,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Smith said in an interview. “We are leaving the peak of the hype cycle and entering the trough of disillusionment, especially for people who inappropriately applied this technology hoping it would become a panacea for solving all their problems.”
Smith also said Symbiont has used its funds wisely over the last few years despite the growing euphoria, and as the company’s accomplishments have grown, it was now time to take on a larger round.
Symbiont has developed a proprietary blockchain and smart contract platform, Assembly, which is designed to be used by financial institutions to share and verify data. As part of Nasdaq’s investment, Nasdaq Financial Network will integrate Symbiont’s Assembly platform to explore tokenization options. This is an important step forward for the proponents of securities tokenization as one of the countries largest exchanges starts using a toolkit to make this goal a reality.
“Symbiont will give Nasdaq the ability to originate a financial instrument and the smart contract to custody it on a blockchain, to allow trading to occur with their matching engine, to allow surveillance to occur across the network using Nasdaq technology and then to perform settlement on a blockchain,” Smith said regarding the utility that Symbiont offers the software arm of Nasdaq.
Symbiont has even developed a partnership with Vanguard, a frequent critic of cryptocurrencies, to provide a new approach to updating the data that fuels index funds. While several of its past partnerships have not worked out, Symbiont has forged ahead and has built exciting new opportunities for itself.
Symbiont may be the platform that many proponents of regulated tokenization are waiting for, and with hope, it will be able to change the landscape for the better. If Vanguard and Nasdaq like what the platform can offer, we may be closer to blockchain-based settlement and tokenization systems than most think.