According to Bloomberg, as digital asset funding gains momentum once more, venture capitalists are casting their gaze toward companies founded by professors, affectionately dubbed “professor coins” within the industry.

Among the recent success stories are Sahara, CheckSig, and NEBRA, all of which have secured fresh capital in the past two months. However, two startups have particularly captured the spotlight: EigenLayer and Babylon. Founded by former University of Washington associate professor Sreeram Kannan and Stanford University Professor David Tse, respectively, these projects have garnered significant attention and investment.

EigenLayer, which raised an impressive $100 million from Andreessen Horowitz in February, and Babylon, which secured $18 million in December, are both focused on the burgeoning field of “restaking.” This innovative concept allows new projects and blockchains to leverage the security infrastructure and resources of established networks like Ethereum or Bitcoin, providing them with a jumpstart in the competitive crypto landscape.

As Hannah Miller and Muyao Shen reported for Bloomberg News, the expertise of Kannan and Tse in restaking technologies has not gone unnoticed. Riad Wahby, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University and CEO of crypto startup Cubist, emphasized the significance of their research, stating, “They’ve thought about a lot of these kinds of restaking technologies. I mean, that’s sort of their baby, so it kind of makes sense. And I think more and more of this technology is going to come from research.”

However, the path to success for professor-led crypto projects is not without its challenges. Kate Laurence, CEO of Accelerate VC, noted that an academic background could sometimes be perceived as a detractor when it comes to entrepreneurship. “Professors tend to be focused on academics and the theory, not as much on the practice and business application,” she explained.

Despite these potential hurdles, the collaboration between Kannan and Tse, as evidenced by their extensive joint research and publications, has instilled confidence in investors like Bloccelerate VC. The firm invested in both EigenLayer and Babylon, recognizing the unique value proposition each project brings to the table.

Babylon’s focus on bringing restaking to the Bitcoin ecosystem presents an even more complex challenge, as Bitcoin utilizes a different validation mechanism than Ethereum. If successful, Babylon’s platform could address the long-standing issue of yield generation for Bitcoin holders, unlocking new opportunities for investors.

EigenLayer, despite attracting more than $15 billion in crypto assets to its platform, faced its own setbacks with the launch of its Eigen token. Critics argued that the startup misunderstood the broader digital asset market, raising concerns about potential self-enrichment and sell-off pressure.

The Bloomberg report goes on to add that supporters like Ayesha Kiani, chief operating officer of crypto hedge fund MNNC Group and an adjunct professor at New York University, believe that projects like EigenLayer and Babylon are more than just get-rich-quick schemes. She asserted that Kannan and Tse are at the forefront of efforts to improve the industry as a whole.

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