Kaito, an AI-powered search engine for crypto, raised $5.3 million in a seed round led by Dragonfly Capital, the company exclusively shared with TechCrunch.
“There’s constantly people fighting against information overload,” Yu Hu, founder and CEO of Kaito, said. “We are shortening the path to finding answers from 30 minutes or an hour into 10 seconds.”
Participants in the round include Sequoia Capital China, Jane Street, Mirana Ventures, Folius Ventures and Alpha Lab Capital, among others. The capital will be used to scale the team and accelerate development of the product, Hu shared. “We’re talking with OpenAI, Binance and Dragonfly for our next round,” he said.
Hu is an ex-Citadel manager who spent almost a decade working in traditional finance. He started researching crypto and investing in 2017, but in 2021 noticed that information was “so fragmented in crypto.” “While I had so many amazing tools in traditional finance, there were virtually none in crypto.”
The crypto industry doesn’t have a cohesive way for people to search for information across channels in a way that traditional search engines like Google do for mainstream information. “I read the other day that Google was no longer relevant for the access of crypto information and that one person was using Twitter to search for information,” Hu said. “That’s obviously a one-silo situation but highlights the need for a search engine in crypto to navigate information for sources.”
“Anything that lives on the blockchain, a generic search engine is not looking at today.”
In general, it’s hard to find information surrounding the ecosystem, given how much is tucked away on platforms that aren’t aggregated onto a general search engine like Google. For example, if there’s a Twitter space or conversation on the platform, when you Google keywords surrounding it, it’s highly unlikely that those exact pieces of information will pop up. But through Kaito that information will be aggregated in a way that makes it accessible, which can be extremely valuable.
People are looking at trending topics, which of course can change on a daily — if not hourly — basis in crypto. “Every day there’s millions and billions of tweets and through topic mining and topic clustering you can actually figure out what’s trending in the space,” Hu said. “There’s major topics people search for and a huge overlap in what people are interested in.”
Kaito’s MetaSearch aims to address this issue through a one-click product that enables users to search across the entire social crypto landscape through platforms like Twitter, Discord, governance forums, Mirror, Medium, podcast transcripts and research, to name a few.
Aside from aggregating information, Kaito leverages AI to optimize its search engine through ranking, topic mining, personalization, recommendation, speech-to-text transcription and AI-generated content. It’s also integrating ChatGPT/GPT-3 to provide an additional search experience for crypto users.
The startup’s search engine was in private alpha mode for its institutional investors since December and is now available to the public. A retail investor-focused search engine will be live in the second quarter of 2023, Hu said. The retail product will be free to everyone, while the institutional one will run a subscription-based model, he said.
The platform separates searches by “facts and opinions,” Hu showed TechCrunch during a demo. Users can search keywords like “Bitcoin” and it will show trending topics or general off-chain information around the phrase. Right now, Kaito is focused on aggregating off-chain information and will eventually implement on-chain content, just like Glassnode or Dune Analytics.
“The blockchain will become a parallel universe versus the web,” Hu said. “While Bing and ChatGPT serve the web, we serve as a search engine for web3.”
Eventually, the platform will also roll out a token-based community that will leverage a similar model to Wikipedia where users can contribute to the platform through a tiered system, Hu said. “Users will need to level up and work their way up in the rank to contribute to the data knowledge.”
“Today we will be a vertical search engine serving the crypto users because they all need one that’s tailor-made for the community,” Hu said.
In the future, Hu sees blockchain technology becoming something that not just crypto investors use.
“There will be a lot of other average people posting their work on chain, artists will publish NFTs on chain, it will become a space like a web space in the future and we’ll be in parallel to Bing and become a search engine that indexes everything for blockchain,” Hu said.
Correction: This story was updated to correct the name of Sequoia Capital.