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Ingonyama Seed Funding Announcement

Published on: 
Jan 23, 2024

A breakdown of our recently closed seed round led by Walden Catalyst Ventures, Geometry and IOSG Ventures

At Ingonyama (“Lion” in Zulu), we combine chip design with mathematics and advanced algorithms to deliver unmatched performance for compute-intensive cryptography.

Our journey began with a clear vision: to create the foundational layer for applications that demand exceptional Zero-Knowledge Prover performance. Since day one, our focus has been to enhance the speed and scalability of this important technology. We take pride in curating a team of dedicated experts driven by a shared goal — to democratize the use of Zero Knowledge Proofs (ZKPs). We strive to make them not only accessible and fast, but also cost-effective, ensuring their availability to all.

The Lion King, once Google’s #1 result when searching Ingonyama, now in 9th place. Sorry Disney! Next time try not to kill Mufasa

From our inception it was clear that to succeed we would need a coalition of world-class backers, unafraid of long term commitment; true leaders, who see decentralization and privacy as core principles to shape our society.

Our seed round totalled $21M in funding and was led by IOSG Ventures, Walden Catalyst Ventures and Geometry, with the participation of many other valuable partners. We are excited to introduce our incredible investors and their role in our story.

Avengers Assemble!

ZK is a fundamental technology with latent influence across markets and industries. We are deeply grateful to Kobi Gurkan and Tom Walton-Pocock for helping us, long before incorporation, to recognize the significance of ZKPs as “the technology that underwrites truth and value in the virtual world”. While at Geometry, Tom and Kobi not only contributed their profound industry acumen but also a deep-seated friendship rooted in shared principles. We would also like to thank Justin Drake for his exceptional guidance and all the phenomenal people who have been with us since the very beginning.

One man bought me a book that was a hundred years old.
Another built a violin — with music in it.
A good woman gave me her name
Since then I am on my way, singing ….

-Naomi Shemer, Good People

Creating a new chip company is tremendously difficult. Our funding round was an opportunity to onboard world class experts to mentor and help us navigate our ship in the silicon waters. We were fortunate to gain early support from David Byrd of Blue Yard and Francis Ho of Walden Catalyst. Young Sohn, a titan of the semiconductors industry, joined our board of directors.

Chaotic Good… does what is necessary to bring about change for the better, disdains bureaucratic organizations that get in the way of social improvement, and places a high value on freedom; not only for oneself, but for others as well.
-Alignment, Dungeons & Dragons, 1974

Our investors are natural partners on this journey to a freer society. They are the builders, thinkers and visionaries of our space. Our low-level focus and chaotic good alignment helped us onboard teams that often take opposing viewpoints on technical matters but understand what is at stake for the greater good. These bonds have been immensely valuable for our critical thinking on product development and strategic planning. Early on, we were privileged to have the support of:

Our Investors Map

We believe that Zero-Knowledge technology should be universally accessible, a principle reflected in both our investor base and the qualities we value. Embracing this ethos, we welcomed IOSG Ventures, a prominent Web3 venture capital firm from the Asia-Pacific region known for their extensive global network and community-research-oriented approach. The forward-thinking perspectives of Jocy and Gökhan aligned perfectly with our vision, making them natural long-term partners.

With the help of IOSG Ventures we sought other like-minded VCs, focusing on the value they bring to the table. RockawayX is precisely such an example: an EU-based firm with operational experience in data-centers with whom we have collaborated on ZKContainers, our product for ZK-Cloud companies. Maven11, IOBC and Mirana fit this model as well. We appreciate their long-term support and out-of-the-box thinking. Finally we’d like to recognize Samsung Next, a major force in networking and ecosystem building, especially in our home base of Israel.

"Ingonyama is a giant, amazingly powerful protective being" Evan Winter, The Rage of Dragons

The Age of Hardware-Accelerated ZK

As a result of engineering breakthroughs, in March 2023 Ingonyama launched ICICLE, our library for accelerating ZK on GPUs. ICICLE allows developers with zero GPU experience to exponentially accelerate their ZK applications. In line with our commitment to transparency, ICICLE is an open source, MIT-licensed repository, enabling a host of applications with smooth integration to run GPU-accelerated ZK more efficiently than ever before.

A number of innovative teams have incorporated ICICLE into their project’s backends, resulting in significantly faster proof generation times and greatly reducing costs. Currently, ICICLE boasts a growing ecosystem, representing a broad spectrum of users, from large corporations to projects with individual developers.

Today we are celebrating the release of ICICLE v1.0.0 which offers developers easy onboarding, documentation, examples and full support. Our ecosystem supports ZK researchers and provides free GPU access.

The end of Moore’s law means we are not guaranteed more compute; hardware will have to earn it. To improve efficiency, there is a shift from task agnostic hardware like CPUs to domain specialized hardware that tailor the design to make certain tasks more efficient”

Hooker, The Hardware Lottery, 2020

We are always on the hunt for state-of-the-art technologies that push performance further. Over the last few months we have been working on designs, system engineering and experimental implementations of ZK tech on AMD AI Engine and Intel FPGAs. This is in addition to our full IP suite, targeting Xilinx FPGAs, which is accessible using Rust. This year we plan to ship our first IP core, marking a major step to building our own hardware. Our benchmarks for all of our products can be found online in the ZK Benchmark ToolKit.

Ingonyama will continue to push the boundaries of compute intensive cryptography and develop open source tools that lower the barrier of entry to ZK for developers, builders, dreamers and doers. 2024 is the year ZK goes mainstream.

Every night is game night


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Ingonyama is commited to developing hardware for a private future using Zero Knowledge Proofs.

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