November 22, 2023
Web3
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0xScope

Web3 Data Industry Spotlight: Web3 Database Companies

This spotlight article on Web3 database companies is part of the 0xScope team's ongoing series about the Web3 Data Industry.

Web3 database companies provide decentralized peer-to-peer data storage and indexing services that power Web3 apps. These companies function as the Web3 version of the databases that traditional tech companies use. What sets them different from Web2 databases is the capacity to replicate stored data across multiple nodes on a decentralized network, making them more reliable and secure.

In the 0xScope Web3 Data Industry Report, we classified Web3 database companies under the Raw Data sector. Companies in this sector, which also includes social graph and oracle companies, provide data services that are more on the technical side, as the output they generate typically requires developer know-how to properly process and integrate into actionable insights.

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As providers of back-end solutions, Web3 database companies do not get the same hype as oracles or social graphs, two other subcategories of the However, Web3 database companies pull in considerable venture interest, to the tune of $65.7M in funds raised across the six companies we listed in this category.

Web3 database companies face an uphill challenge in terms of balancing scalability and decentralization. They also have to find ways to lower the cost implications of storing data on-chain, especially given that 1 MB of data storage on Ethereum can cost thousands of dollars.

Ceramic Network

Ceramic Network is a provider of protocols for decentralized data applications. Specifically, Ceramic is an event streaming protocol that creates a verifiable data ledger used by a network of composable applications, services, and users. The platform functions as an open network that’s designed for Web3 apps to store data that can be accessed by anyone.

On Ceramic, event streaming starts with users cryptographically signing data events and then submitting them to the network. Ceramic then organizes these data events into streams, which enable data to be published, consumed, exchanged, and reused by any app or device connected to the public internet.

The Ceramic protocol has been described as the Web3 version of the Apache Kafka platform for handling real-time data feeds, due to the similarities of their methods for managing events and data. Ceramic is built for data that doesn’t need to be stored on a blockchain, but that Web3 apps may want to access.

Progress and Advantages

Ceramic Network was created by Web3 software studio 3Box Labs. In June 2019, Ceramic raised $2.5M in a seed round to jumpstart its Web3 database service. About three years later, in February 2022, the project brought in an additional $30M in a Series A round.

In 2022, months after Ceramic's fundraise, the company launched ComposeDB, a composable graph database that allows developers to quickly build decentralized apps (dapps). Ceramic has emphasized servicing social and DAO apps through ComposeDB, particularly for processing user verification and user-generated content, among other functions.

According to Ceramic's proponents, its event streaming database platform, with the addition of ComposeDB, has made it easy for Web3 developers to create, manage, and deploy dapps without focusing on compatibility. To date, Ceramic has processed 350M events and 10M streams for its client base of 1.5M decentralized accounts and 400 apps.

Challenges

Web3 database companies like Ceramic Network differentiate themselves through how they process Web3 data. Critics have pointed out that while event streams done on Ceramic can be used to function as a database, they neither have the queryability nor scalability of a database.

Kwil

Kwil is a protocol for designing, building, and deploying decentralized, community-owned SQL databases used for building advanced dapps. Kwil combines the permissionless nature of blockchains with the capabilities of Web2 data storage methods.

Kwil databases are permissionless by default, allowing app builders to define and deploy rules for interacting with their tables. Kwil makes it possible for developers to create programmable data sets with custom rules dictating how and when users can write to the database.

Progress and Advantages

Kwil released the first version of its decentralized SQL database in early 2022. In October of the same year, the company raised $8.9M in a seed funding round co-led by FTX Ventures and Polkadot investor Blockchange Ventures.

In March 2023, Kwill debuted its second version as a public alpha release, containing new features such as Web 3.0-native tools and a new query pricing system.

Some of the advantages offered by Kwil include Byzantine Fault Tolerant networks, designed to continue operating even if some nodes fail or act maliciously, the use of popular query language SQL, and the ability of Kwil users to run their own blockchains. Kwil positions its SQL usage as an incentive for Web2 developers to dabble on Web3 using its database services.

Challenges

Compared to its rivals in the Web3 database industry, Kwil is at the lower end of the fundraising scale, although not by much, given the relatively small valuations being given to companies under this sector. In addition, Kwil's use of SQL for data storage and retrieval means that the platform is also susceptible to some of the challenges related to using SQL, including its advanced difficulty level, its lack of compactness, and other issues.

KYVE

KYVE is a Web3 database company that takes a more on-chain approach to data management compared to its peers in the industry. In May 2022, the company launched its own Layer 1 blockchain, built on the Cosmos SDK, for managing data infrastructure. The company's core feature is the KYVE data lake, which enables decentralized data validation and immutability for all forms of on- and off-chain data sets

The KYVE Network operates as a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that allows providers to standardize, validate, and permanently store blockchain data streams. Kyve’s decentralized data storage solution also helps in reducing dependency on centralized servers for Web3 companies.

Progress and Advantages

KYVE has raised a total of $12.8M from three fundraising rounds, the most recent of which happened in June 2022 to the tune of $9M.

The database company's on-chain approach consists of a consensus layer run by independent validators and a protocol layer that enables KYVE's use cases, such as data pools, funding, and delegation. This way, data is stored and validated in a decentralized way.

In 2022, KYVE hosted more than 23.7M on-chain events and facilitated the creation of 182,000 data bundles. KYVE's blockchain partners include Polkadot, Arweave, NEAR, Cosmos, Avalanche, and Solana.

Challenges

KYVE's on-chain approach to Web3 database management includes the utilization of its blockchain's native token $KYVE. Launched in June 2023, $KYVE started at $0.33 and briefly skyrocketed to $2 before plummeting to its current $0.04 level. While this valuation does not affect the token's use case, it could be indicative of the uphill climb that KYVE is facing to grow its user network. On the other hand, the low value of the KYVE token means that fees on the KYVE network are also low, giving the company another selling point for its prospect clients.

Polybase

Polybase is a ZK-rollup protocol with native support for pluggable data storage and indexing. The company claims that its approach is better than using a centralized database like Firebase or Postgres, as developers can encrypt data using wallets for self-sovereign data and verifiably query Polybase from smart collections.

The Polybase platform uses zero-knowledge proofs to secure permissions and transactions, making it possible for users to read and verify data in dapps or smart contracts simply and cheaply. The company also uses separate indexing and storage modules to complete the database functionality.

Progress and Advantages

So far, Polybase has raised $2M thanks to a pre-seed round in February 2023, plus an undisclosed amount from a previous pre-seed round in 2022. Other than those rounds, the company has quietly been building its solutions.

Some of Polybase's key advantages include its emphasis on privacy, as well as a design that allows for the inclusion of several data storage and indexing providers. According to some observers, Polybase is the Web3 equivalent of Firebase or Supabase.

Challenges

Polybase has generally positioned itself as a rival to Ceramic, with quite a few Web3 observers making comparisons between the two Web3 database companies. Most of the time, distinguishing between these companies' services can be an apples-to-oranges kind of comparison. But in at least a few head-to-head reviews, Ceramic's ComposeDB client outperforms Polybase in terms of speed and write times. Polybase had promised to release other client versions to support other coding languages and compete better with its rivals.

Tableland

Tableland is a decentralized Web3 protocol for structuring relational data. The platform, an open-source, permissionless cloud database built on SQLite, supports Ethereum and EVM-compatible Layer-2 networks. The company aims to create native relational tables on Web3 and to enable its users to read and write tamper-proof data from apps, data pipelines, or EVM smart contracts.

Tableland is a SQL database that divides a traditional relational database into two major components: an access control mechanism, handled by an on-chain smart contract that uses EVM, and an off-chain permissionless network of relational database nodes. Each database is issued as an NFT (ERC-721 token) on an EVM-compatible base layer.

Progress and Advantages

In total, Tableland has raised $9.5M, with $8M coming from a funding round that closed in April 2023 and the remainder coming from a seed round in July 2019.

A key advantage of using Tableland is that it is a fully-featured relational database built on the SQLite engine, which the company says is way faster than SQL. The platform is also live on Ethereum, Optimism, Arbitrum, Arbitrum Nova, and Polygon, with integration on Filecoin and zkEVMs coming soon. In addition, Tableland's hybrid method has the benefit of protecting data on-chain while still enabling native composability through off-chain queries.

Challenges

Developers using database solutions that are more on the on-chain side, such as Tableland and KYVE, face cost-based challenges depending on the base blockchain they're building on. If network fees are high, the cost of writing to the Tableland database can be restrictive. Given this dilemma, Tableland is more suitable for use cases with lower write frequency and less emphasis on performance, restricting its growth potential.

Source Network

Source Network, a decentralized data management infrastructure ecosystem that claims to "extend the ethos of blockchains to off-chain data management," is one of the newer players in the Web3 database sector.

The platform has two main products: the DefraDB global peer-to-peer database and SourceHub, a Cosmos SDK-based trust layer protocol.

Progress and Advantages

As an emerging Web3 database service, Source Network has yet to reveal any fundraising details, instead going the community route as its source of initial support for its rollout. However, part of the company's plans include the launch of the SourceHub blockchain and its corresponding OPEN token. The company is also running a community quest program that encourages people to explore the platform and become its ambassadors.

Aside from its association with Cosmos, Source Network also counts Chainlink as one of its partners, following the recent inclusion of the Web3 database company in the Chainlink BUILD program. The company also claims that its DefraDB allows users to deploy databases in any environment, including edge, user devices, IOT, cloud-native environments, and decentralized infrastructure.

Challenges

Using a newer database service such as Source Network has its advantages, such as lower costs compared to its more established competitors. However, the company's current lack of track record and information on funds raised, among other problems inherent in younger companies, could make it a less-than-ideal Web3 database choice for some developers.

If you think your company or project should be included in this report or our bigger report on the industry, please fill up this form or email us at community@0xscope.com.

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