Cymbal Launches 'Human Readable' Ethereum Blockchain Explorer—A Social Etherscan – Decrypt

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Cymbal Launches 'Human Readable' Ethereum Blockchain Explorer—A Social Etherscan
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Crypto die-hards like to say “we’re early” amid the peaks and valleys of the market, but what really feels early much of the time is the tooling.
Cymbal, which bills itself as the first “human readable” Ethereum block explorer, aims to move that forward, launching in beta today.
Blockchain explorers like Etherscan are essential tools for builders and traders alike, but they’re densely packed with data and very difficult for the average user to navigate, let alone understand. That's where Cymbal sees an opening.
It takes the same kind of public blockchain data that’s flowing through standard explorers and turns it into a feed that’s not only visual and easily understandable at a glance, but also social.
“Today, tools like Etherscan are the best in class for looking at the blockchain—but they resemble command line interfaces. We want to get to the GUI,” Cymbal CEO and co-founder Eric Feng told Decrypt, alluding to the past computing shift from text-based navigation to graphical user interfaces.
Cymbal looks more like a social network than a pure data resource, serving up dashboards that take transaction details and wrap them up with NFT artwork—from the Bored Ape Yacht Club and other top collections—along with data trends, public information on known wallet owners, relevant news stories from media outlets, and more.
It also runs that data through an AI tool to generate a conversational summary of transactions and trends, to make things even more understandable for the average user. Feng said that Cymbal is running the tool through OpenAI’s GPT large language model.
Cymbal is launching with a focus on NFTs, but Feng said that richer data regarding cryptocurrency and token transactions will be added in time, as his team works to “build out a full Etherscan replacement.” Support for the Solana blockchain is coming in a matter of weeks, he added, with Ethereum scaling network Polygon not far behind.
Feng said that Cymbal started with NFTs for a couple of reasons. The tokens are often tied to artwork, which makes them visual in nature—ideal for this kind of platform. NFTs are also often the first way that people are onboarded into the crypto space these days, he added, and that accessibility layer also played a role in Cymbal’s decision-making.
“We consider NFTs to be the gateway to Web3,” he told Decrypt.
Cymbal looks like a social network, and it can be used like one too. Users can follow wallets and projects, plus wallet owners can claim their own page and then personalize it to become a “Web3 profile” of sorts, Feng said. He suggested potential messaging, content publishing, and other social features to come in time.
The startup has raised a total of $18.5 million to date with notable investors in the mix, including Coinbase Ventures, Solana Ventures, CAA Connect Ventures, UTA Ventures, Shima Capital, and Google Ventures (GV). Notable angel investors include Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr, Dapper Labs co-founder Roham Gharegozlou, and outgoing Polygon Labs president Ryan Wyatt.
Feng—a former CTO at Hulu and veteran of Meta and Microsoft—said that Cymbal sees revenue-generating opportunities with targeted advertising based on wallet data, along with selling its curated data to app builders via API access. He said it’s akin to business models used by other block explorers, as well as crypto price trackers.
Cymbal is positioned as a way to not only help the average NFT and crypto user better understand the blockchain space, but also help expand the industry as more accessible tools come online.
“There is a subset of hardcore crypto people that can read Etherscan, just like there's people in ‘The Matrix’ that could look at the green squiggly lines and understand what's going on,” Feng told Decrypt. “Great. This is not for them.”
“It's for the masses,” he added. “It's not the tens of thousands of hardcore crypto people right now. It's for the tens of millions of people that hopefully will come into the ecosystem if we can create better tooling for them.”
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