21 Inc., a Silicon Valley startup, now has the backing of some big time investors to take the company’s bitcoin technology to the masses. The company has raised $116 million in its latest funding round, which is the highest amount raised by a bitcoin startup to date, according to Coindesk. Lead investors in the company include Andreessen Horowitz, RRE Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Data Collective, and Yuan Capital, a Chinese private equity firm. Even some top executives from companies such as PayPal, eBay, Dropbox, Expedia, and Zynga have invested in the company. Qualcomm, the chipmaker giant, has also acquired a strategic stake in the company through its venture-capital unit.
The involvement of Qualcomm will most likely help 21 in its mass-marketing and production efforts, as well as with developing a suite of consumer products around blockchain, bitcoin’s core technology. The blockchain technology showcases a digitized public ledger that is maintained by a decentralized network of independently owned computers. 21 Inc is a Bitcoin mining pool. It is working on specially designed chips that will allow for new equipment specifically aimed at executing this function more efficiently. 21 Inc. has yet to publicly reveal the exact nature of its operations.
The noteworthy thing here is the company’s massive amount of funding. 2014 was a record year for Bitcoin companies in terms of investments. Last year, Bitcoin companies raised a record $350 million as compared to 2013. This year, the first quarter has not yet ended and we are already seeing a Bitcoin company raise more than $100 million. Earlier this year, Coinbase, another Bitcoin company, had raised $75 million in a single funding round, the second largest funding round for a Bitcoin company yet this year.
Bitcoin, the popular virtual currency, is gaining traction in global markets as a new form of currency. An array of merchants supports Bitcoin including retailers, e-commerce sites, hotels, restaurants, and many more. We already wrote about Governments and financial bodies who legally approve Bitcoin and are helping it gain momentum. Investment firms are also looking at the Bitcoin opportunity from a wider perspective. Bitcoin is still far from mainstream adoption, but companies like 21 Inc. are making industry experts believe there is still hope.