Startup Spice AI Inc., which works to facilitate the development of blockchain applications, today announcement that it secured a $13.5 million seed round led by Madrona Venture Group.
More than half a dozen other investors participated in the round alongside Madrona. The group included Thomas Dohmke, managing director of Microsoft Corp.’s GitHub subsidiary, as well as several institutional investors.
Seattle-based Spice AI offers a cloud platform that promises to simplify the task of building blockchain applications. Additionally, the platform allows developers to equip their software with artificial intelligence features.
Blockchain implementations generate data that can be useful for application projects. The Ethereum blockchain, for example, provides access to data on cryptocurrency transactions. Ethereum transaction records can be used by cryptocurrency applications for tasks such as monitoring the prices of digital assets.
Embedding blockchain information into an application typically requires a significant amount of manual work. Developers must collect the information, disseminate it in a centralized data environment, and organize it in a form that facilitates processing. Each step in the process often requires a separate software tool.
Spice AI’s platform, which is currently in preview, promises to automate the task of adding blockchain data to applications. The platform collects data from popular blockchains such as Ethereum and makes it accessible through relatively simple application programming interfaces. According to Spice AI, its APIs are easier to use than the tools developers typically rely on to get the job done.
APIs make it possible to interact with blockchain data using the widely used SQL query language. According to the startup, developers can not only access information, but also combine disparate records and perform other operations on data. Spice AI claims its platform can query millions of records in seconds.
Spice AI makes blockchain information collected by its platform accessible in the Apache Arrow data format. The format includes optimizations that speed up some parsing tasks. Developers can also instruct the platform to organize data in JSON format, which is also widely used by analytics applications.
Some applications that process blockchain data include machine learning features. To facilitate the development of such software, Spice AI has created an open source tool called Spice that automates some of the tasks involved in implementing machine learning algorithms. According to the startup, the tool can be deployed as a software container and supports several popular AI development frameworks.
Spice AI was launched last year by chief executive Luke Kim and chief technology officer Phillip LeBlanc. Kim previously co-founded Microsoft’s Azure Incubations unit, which develops new technologies for the company’s Azure public cloud. LeBlanc has held engineering positions at Microsoft and GitHub.
“There is no more data-rich ecosystem than Web3 and blockchains, but this area is currently hampered by lack of data access and infrastructure,” Kim said. “Troubleshooting the data problem in Web3 requires deep domain knowledge, and Spice AI builds the infrastructure, so developers don’t have to deal with the complexity of the build themselves.”
Spice AI has reportedly signed up 10 customers on its platform since its launch last year. These customers include companies in markets such as the financial services, fraud detection, and retail segments. To increase its market presence, Spice AI plans to hire more employees and expand its operations in Asia and Australia.