Partnering with Privy: Bridging the Gap for Web3

Henri and Asta are helping developers protect off-chain data — with just a few lines of code.

By Josephine Chen and Shaun Maguire

Published April 20, 2022

Privy Co-Founders Asta Li and Henri Stern.

When we first started talking with Privy co-founders Henri Stern and Asta Li last year about how to merge on-chain and off-chain user data, we noticed something unusual: nearly every potential customer we asked told us it was a solution they desperately wanted. We had expected that reaction from the seed-stage and other early crypto companies we knew — especially because Henri and Asta were fiercely committed to validating the problem and had already had dozens of conversations with potential customers. Once we introduced them to FTX and other larger players, though, we realized how universal the pain point truly was. Again and again we heard, “We needed this yesterday.”

Because it takes a massive investment of resources to handle customers’ private information safely in a web3 environment, most companies today simply ignore that data and rely on on-chain identity (crypto addresses) instead. But without access to off-chain information, developers are missing out on opportunities to build better, more customized products. From missed notifications to login headaches, customers pay the price.

That’s where Privy comes in. Using simple APIs, web3 companies can merge crypto addresses with emails, names and more — without putting their customers’ private information at risk. With three lines of code, developers save countless hours they would otherwise spend on compliance and infrastructure, and can focus on creating incredible user experiences. 

Our relationships with Henri and co-founder Asta Li started long before Privy, and even before they met each other. Shaun knew Henri through his work at Protocol Labs (PL), maker of Filecoin, one of Sequoia’s first crypto partnerships in 2017. With previous experience as a founder in the consumer space and a passion for privacy — before PL, he worked on cryptography research at Stanford with the likes of Dan Boneh and David Mazières — Henri marries technical and web3 knowledge with a deep understanding of how to delight users. The idea for Privy came out of his firsthand frustration with the status quo — and his conviction that good UX and keeping users safe shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.

Then Henri met Asta Li, whom Josephine had known through early-stage infrastructure founder communities. As one of the first engineers at Aurora, another Sequoia portfolio company, we always knew Asta was exceptional technically, but we quickly got to see what a deep product thinker and empathetic leader she was as well. Henri and Asta shared an excitement about the data infrastructure space and immediately clicked after meeting through a mutual friend. As we have worked with the two of them over the last few months, we have been incredibly impressed by how well they balance each other out while pushing the team, the product and themselves forward at breakneck speeds. In this founding team we have a web3 zealot and a convert who together bring a unique understanding of how to build and shape a product, borrowing the best from both worlds.

Just a few months in and Privy is already live and in beta, refining its APIs with a delighted set of early customers. We are excited for their self-serve launch to enable more web3 developers to build incredible user experiences. Privy is working on bringing users to the forefront of their data decisions, empowering them to take control of their own data — just as web3 was designed to do.

As the crypto space continues to expand at an incredible pace, we believe infrastructure like Privy will play a key role in the next evolution of the internet, and we couldn’t be more excited to lead this seed round and support this exceptional team as they tackle the massive opportunity of reshaping how user data is handled on the web. They are hiring now, so please reach out if you’d like to join them in building infrastructure to power delightful user experiences in web3 — safely and privately. And if you’d like to try out the Privy APIs or learn more about the product, visit privy.io.