Billionaire Peter Thiel and bitcoin mining giant Bitmain are headliners in a star-studded investment round for Block.one, the creator of the EOS cryptocurrency.
Block.one announced the conclusion of the funding round on Monday, but the firm did not reveal its size or at what valuation it was conducted.
In any case, the offering attracted a cadre of high-profile investors.
Thiel, a PayPal co-founder and hedge fund manager, is a bitcoin bull, though in public statements he has been less optimistic about the prospects of other cryptocurrencies.
Bitmain, the world’s largest producer of cryptocurrency mining hardware, is at least three times the combined size of its competitors, several of whom are themselves believed to be worth more than $1 billion.
Other investors included hedge fund billionaire Alan Howard, who first invested in cryptocurrencies earlier this year and has since made a “sizable” bet on the nascent sector, as well as Louis Bacon, founder of Moore Capital Management.
“As Block.one prepares to announce its future plans, we’re excited to welcome key strategic investors aligned with our values of creating a more secure and connected world,” said Block.one CEO Brendan Blumer, who was mum on what those “future plans” involve.
The funding round marked the second time that Block.one had raised capital through traditional avenues. A previous funding round attracted investments from Galaxy Digital founder Mike Novogratz, Apeiron Investment Group founder Christian Angermayer, and Lansdowne Investment Company.
The decision to seek outside funding has raised eyebrows, given that Block.one raised more than $4 billion in the year-long EOS initial coin offering (ICO), making it the highest-grossing token sale to date.
EOS launched last month amidst much controversy, but the cryptocurrency has nevertheless managed to retain its position as the fifth-largest cryptocurrency. As of the time of writing, the asset had a circulating market cap of $7.1 billion.
Block.one obtained 100 million of the 1 billion EOS tokens distributed in the cryptocurrency’s Genesis block, and these tokens are currently worth nearly $800 million.
However, all of those funds are denominated in cryptocurrency, and — particularly given the recent decline in trading volume — it’s likely difficult to convert them into fiat currency without placing severe downward pressure on the cryptocurrency market.
Moreover, Bloomberg reports that the ICO funds are earmarked to fund the development of a blockchain-based operating system, though public details on this venture are scant. Block.one has also allocated $1 billion toward a VC operation designed to support development on the EOS platform.
As CCN reported, Bitmain — likely the most valuable company in the cryptocurrency industry — has increasingly been spreading its wings through strategic investments in other sectors as it prepares to go public in the near future.
In addition to its investment in Block.one, Bitmain has been an active participant in the EOS ecosystem. AntPool, its mining pool subsidiary, currently counts itself among the 21 entities — called “block producers” — that verify transactions and enforce the EOS constitution on the cryptocurrency’s network, for which it earns a portion of all newly-generated tokens.
Earlier this month, the firm paid $50 million to obtain a controlling stake in Norwegian software company Opera Software AS, creator of the Opera web browser. Days later, the firm announced it was adding a native Ethereum wallet and decentralized application (dApp) viewer to the Android version of its web browser.
The firm has also been leveraging its ASIC development business to carve out a corner in China’s artificial intelligence (AI) market.
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