Bitcoin going mainstream with startup raising record $116M?
According to Wall Street Journal, secretive bitcoin startup 21 Inc. raised $116 million in funding from high-profile investors on Tuesday, a record amount by a startup in the digital-currency sector. For the past year and a half, 21 Inc. has convinced some of the biggest names in venture capital to back its effort to turn the technology behind bitcoin into a mass-marketed phenomenon. 21’s lead investors include U.S. venture-capital heavyweights Andreessen Horowitz and RRE Ventures, along with Chinese private-equity firm Yuan Capital, with a strategic stake going to chipmaker Qualcomm through its venture-capital unit.
Mr. Pauker, Chief Executive and co-founder of 21 Inc, said Qualcomm’s involvement is key. He hopes to exploit the San Diego company’s mass-marketing and production capabilities in the development of a suite of consumer products that integrate with bitcoin’s core technology called the “blockchain.” This technology takes the form of a public, digital ledger that’s maintained by a decentralized network of thousands of independently owned computers.
Qualcomm’s involvement could spur speculation that 21 has its sights on the so-called “Internet of Things.” That’s the idea that a myriad of smart, Internet-connected appliances will in the future communicate with servers, networks and each other to optimize their operation, maintenance and energy usage without direct human involvement.
Some developers believe that the underpinning blockchain technology of bitcoin could play a key role in transparently managing the vast flow of information generated by these smart gadgets. The decentralized blockchain ledgers are free from the control of any one party, so smart appliances can in theory connect with computers built by other entities safely without worrying that the information was manipulated.
Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Matthew Pauker indicated “several interesting developments over the next weeks and months” that will deal with products designed “to drive mainstream adoption of bitcoin”, the Journal reported.