A16z Leads $14M Funding Round for New E-Commerce Platform from Twitch Co-Founder

The crypto arm of noted venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) led a $14 million funding round for Rye, a new e-commerce application programming interface (API) that lets merchants, stores and customers transact openly and with minimal fees. Rye plans for the API to eventually be fully decentralized on the Solana blockchain. The funding will be used to build out the product and engineering teams and to start the decentralization process, according to the announcement blog post.

A16z crypto, which broke industry records with a new $4.5 billion fund in May, participated with the support of its Cultural Leadership Fund. Other investors in the round included Solana Ventures, GOAT Capital, L Catterton, Electric Ant, Electric Feel Ventures, Andre Iguodala, Javale McGee, and James Beshara.

Rye came to life after the pandemic drove a Cambrian explosion of new online shopping experiences, which in turn led to new types of e-commerce that were built on the go.

“After weeks of researching the market and talking to brands and sellers, my co-founders and I started to sketch together what the future of eCommerce should look like: an open and free network that could hold the collection of all products — where any brand can plug in their inventory, and any seller could pull from. This network should allow sellers to spin up an eCommerce experience in minutes, similar to how Stripe enabled payments in minutes,” wrote Rye co-founder and CEO Arjun Bhargava.

The Rye API includes an integrated one-click checkout, Amazon and Shopify product data, and connections to affiliate programs. The platform aims to benefit shoppers with a unified checkout experience that allows for shopping from multiple stores in one cart. The checkout will also include Web3 features, such as the ability to receive cash back rewards in the USDC stablecoin and purchase non-fungible token (NFT) releases.

The path to decentralization will involve Rye collaborating with merchants, sellers and developers. Rye has started by open-sourcing the reference apps that use the API, such as the Rye store builder.

Rye’s team of founders includes former Reddit engineersBhargava and Saurabh Sharma, Twitch co-founder Justin Kan, Scribd co-founder Tikhon Bernstam, Robin Chen (former head of Zynga China) and Jamie Quint, former head of growth at Notion.

Read more: What Is a Decentralized Application?