Last year was a record year for Bitcoin when it came to venture capital investment, at almost $350 million in 2014. It looks like Bitcoin is approaching that amount already, and we’re not even through the first quarter of 2015 year. Bitcoin startup 21 Inc. has announced that they have secured $116 million in venture capital investment, setting a record for not just a Bitcoin startup, but for any Bitcoin company in the technology’s six-plus years.
21 Inc. looks to invest in Bitcoin “mass adoption.”
This company has been working diligently, and secretively, for over a year on securing this cache of capital, and it’s origins go back to late 2013. This was when they declared under a regulatory filing that they had received $5 million in funding. The name 21 Inc. comes from the twenty-one million Bitcoins that will be produced in total by the year 2140, once all the Bitcoin blocks have been successfully “mined”.
“Bitcoin is going to change the way that people and businesses and even machines interact with each other,” Chief Executive and co-founder Matthew Pauker told the Wall Street Jornal. “But for bitcoin to realize that vision we need mass adoption. It can’t just be for Silicon Valley.” Beyond that, the tight-lipped execs only will say about the future that the public will hear “several interesting developments over the next weeks and months” about future proprietary products designed “to drive mainstream adoption of Bitcoin.”
Even though this may be the first time you hear of 21 Inc., it’s Rolodex of investors reads like a who ‘s who in the digital space. Major players affiliated with 21 Inc. include Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, co-founders of PayPal, Andreessen Horowitz and RRE Ventures. Qualcomm Inc., Dropbox Inc. CEO Drew Houston, Zynga Inc. co-founder Mark Pincus, Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and eBay Inc. co-founder Jeff Skoll are also onboard.
21 Inc. co-founder Balaji Srinivasan is also a partner at Andreessen Horowitz. Srinivasan compares 21’s work in building Bitcoin products for the general public to the early development of 56-KB Internet modems, international fiber cables, and wireless Internet towers. These innovations were integral in the mass adoption of the Internet, and 21 Inc. looks to follow the Internet’s model of growth for a generation ago.
Given the fact that the Bitcoin digital currency is just the first application of Bitcoin’s Block Chain technology, many in the mainstream mistakenly see the currency as a one-trick pony. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the Bitcoin technology has attracted investors from many industries who see the potential for increased security, lower costs, and higher efficiency with this cutting-edge digital technology. Anything from lawyer-less “Smart contracts” to final wills-and-testaments, to secure online voting systems are now feasible with the public Block Chain ledger as an enduring record going forward.
In January, Coinbase announced that they had raised $75 million in venture capital funding in January, for a total of over $106 million, and would start the first U.S.-based Bitcoin exchange.
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