April 1, 2022

NEAR in March: Unchain Fund, SailGP, and DAOs

The NEAR community’s extraordinary momentum continued into March, with a number of exciting launches, partnerships, hackathons, and more happening across the ecosystem. 

While the events unfolding in Ukraine had a profound effect on many of the teams in the NEAR ecosystem, projects continued to deliver on their roadmaps as a testament to the community’s resiliency and borderless collaboration. 

For a first hand account of what this experience was like, check out Maria Yarotska’s Medium post on her experience working on MetaBUILD II while fleeing the conflict. 

Let’s have a look at what happened throughout the NEAR ecosystem in March. 

NEAR and SailGP Partner on new DAO for sports teams

NEAR announced a multi-year partnership with SailGP, one of the world’s fastest growing sporting events, to explore the sale of a new team to a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) to be built on NEAR. The SailGP DAO will combine professional sports with community-focused engagement, bringing together sports fans and crypto users alike. 

This new DAO team could join the SailGP starting line-up for Season 4 in 2023. SailGP and NEAR will partner on a number of exciting new projects to inspire Web3 developers building on the blockchain, as well as collaborate on NFT and gaming, events ticketing, mobile app integration, and more. 

“We welcome NEAR to the SailGP family and we are looking forward to them participating in the most exciting racing on-water, featuring the world’s best sailors,” SailGP Founder Larry Ellison said.

Orange DAO selects NEAR as web3 startup partner

Shortly after partnering with Sail GP, NEAR Foundation announced another exciting project—this one with Orange DAO, a crypto collective created by Y Combinator alums that backs web3 startups. 

Orange DAO selected NEAR as its preferred layer 1 blockchain for web3. In return, NEAR Foundation will invest $15 million into Orange DAO to help support the founders who are building web3 companies on the NEAR blockchain.

“We are thrilled to have been selected by some of the brightest minds in the world as the preferred layer1 chain on which Orange DAO members will want to build,” said Marieke Flament, CEO of the NEAR Foundation. “We know that community-driven innovation benefits everyone, and this partnership is simply another example of our mission in practice.”

Orange DAO will leverage NEAR’s strengths to back past, present, and aspiring Y Combinator founders. The DAO will do this by helping founders apply to and get accepted into YC; funding pre-and post-YC projects; as well as mentoring founders and helping with recruitment and customer acquisition where possible.

NEAR Foundation’s funding of Orange DAO will vest over four years, and the Foundation will also support YC founders with time and resources. 

Unchain Fund launches DAO to collect donations for Ukraine

On February 25, Unchain Fund, a new DAO fund, launched on the NEAR ecosystem to help collect crypto donations for citizens caught up in the conflict in Ukraine. 

Created on AstroDAO, a DAO-launching platform built on NEAR, Unchain Fund raises funds for humanitarian purposes in Ukraine, including evacuation, shelter, food, and more. 

In under a month, Unchain collected over $7 million USD and counting across a range of cryptocurrencies including, BSC, ETH, Harmony, NEAR, and Polygon. 

Over 700 volunteers are currently helping out with Unchain Fund in one way or another, and the effort continues to grow.

“Crypto became the largest driver for humanitarian help as well as some of [the] military help for Ukraine,” said Illia Polosukhin, co-founder of NEAR. “You can create a full system, an NGO system in days. Instead of [the] months it would take to create a new nonprofit, set up bank accounts, get all the legal structure, make sure that people can wire money to it without problems.”

MetaBUILD 2 hackathon winners

Over the last three months, NEAR developers and entrepreneurs from around the globe have been building projects for the MetaBUILD 2 hackathon. This virtual-physical event was a great opportunity to witness the NEAR Community’s creativity and innovation. 

By building on NEAR’s simple, scalable, and secure blockchain, the MetaBUILD 2 hackathon projects are helping lay the foundation for a better future. A future in which millions of new users and developers create and share completely new journeys.

Like the first hackathon, MetaBUILD 2 offered a total of $1 million in prizes. Nearly 4,000 participants joined, submitting over 356 projects—of which, 186 were eligible—for NFTs, DeFI, Gaming, DAOs, infrastructure apps and tools, and EVM apps. 

For the NEAR MetaBUILD 2 hackathon, there were Welcome and Natives tracks, as well as 35 Sponsor Challenges.

Check out the list of winning MetaBUILD 2 projects. 

NearPay debit card bridges crypto and fiat

Earlier this month, NearPay, the NEAR ecosystem’s first debit card and payments widget, announced its waitlist. NearPay had hoped to attract 1,000 users but the wait list grew to 18,000 in less than a week. 

Built by Switzerland-based Kikimora Labs,  NearPay bridges fiat and crypto in a single seamless user experience. Slated for a late 2022 release, NearPay debit will be both a physical card and mobile-based app, with feature sets designed for consumers, developers, and merchants, allowing individuals, businesses, and other organizations to make instant transactions and payments using their preferred cryptocurrency, including NEAR. 

“The cards will be NEAR-oriented but support other cryptocurrencies as well,” says Ivan Ilin, Chief Operating Officer at NearPay. “For businesses, we support two scenarios: fiat-to-crypto to a user’s wallet and fiat-to-crypto to a merchant’s wallet for a certain order. We work with NFT marketplaces, DeFi projects, and many others.”

“For developers, we provide a simple API with an SDK,” he adds. “The integration is possible with a website or a mobile application. We provide a merchant dashboard where one can see all the transaction statistics.”

A Deep Dive into DAOs

If 2021 was the year of the NFT, then 2022 is the year of the DAO. As Web3’s popularity continues to grow amongst end-users and developers, so has the interest in and launches of DAOs. And it’s easy to see why: these decentralized autonomous organizations empower communities instead of centralizing data, power, and money in the hands of big Silicon Valley firms. 

To capture the explosive growth of DAOs on the NEAR ecosystem, the NEAR Foundation published a 5-part series on these unique Web3 creations, including a DAO primer, a spotlight on NEAR’s DAO launchpad Astro, life-changing DAOs, and more. 

Capsule.Social’s Blogchain launches writer program for Ukrainian migrants

Capsule.Social’s Blogchain, a decentralized publishing platform for writers, launched this month and quickly followed this up with a new writer program designed for Ukrainian migrants. Through this program, a number of Ukrainian writers have been sharing their personal stories, experienced during Russia’s war on Ukraine. 

Blogchain gives these Ukrainians and many other writers a user-friendly interface, created with powerful decentralized functionality, that also includes censorship-resistant content hosting, payment to creators in either crypto or fiat money, and community governance. 

Follow the Capsule.Social Twitter for stories from Ukrainians and other writers publishing on the decentralized Blogchain platform. 

ICYMI: NEAR’s Road to Decentralization

In early March, NEAR Foundation published a 4-part series “Road to Decentralization”, in which it explore the various ways in which the network is being decentralized to the community. 

Since launch, NEAR Foundation has been committed to decentralizing the network as part of the larger effort to build a fast, secure, and scalable blockchain.

For the full details on this process, read “Road to Decentralization” parts:

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