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$102 Million: A16z, Polychain Back Blockchain Project Dfinity's Funding Round

Decentralized cloud startup Dfinity just raised $102 million to further its work in developing an “internet computer,” TechCrunch reported Wednesday.

Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz’s new a16z crypto and Polychain Capital lead the funding round for the Switzerland-based project, which is working to build a decentralized cloud computing platform. Dfinity also saw investments from Multicoin Capital, Scalar Capital, SV Angel, Aspect Ventures, Village Global, Amino Capital, KR1 and, according to TechCrunch, contributions from members of the Dfinity community.

Dfinity claims to have now raised nearly $200 million toward its goal, including through a $61 million fundraising round in February which also saw Andreessen Horowitz and Polychain invest.

The company wants its platform to be publicly accessible, as previously reported. It is scheduled to launch its network later this year, though the company is already running a testnet for its platform.

The company announced earlier this year that it was airdropping roughly $35 million in its DFN tokens to its community, though individuals will not receive any tokens until the mainnet is live.

Dfinity hopes to launch a world computer, referred to as the “cloud 3.0,” by creating a scalable network that is more efficient than proof-of-work but more decentralized than a system with nodes or super nodes, according to TechCrunch.

This network would be capable of hosting the “next generation of software and services,” founder and chief scientist Dominic Williams said. To that end, the network will be open source, which should make it both more secure and cheaper to operate.

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A16z Leads $45 Million Raise for Blockchain Startup Oasis Labs

Cloud computing startup Oasis Labs successfully raised $45 million in a private token pre-sale to develop a blockchain platform aimed to rival Amazon Web Services

The sale, led by Andreessen Horowitz’s new “a16z” crypto fund, saw Accel, Binance, Pantera, Polychain, Metastable, Foundation Capital, Electric Capital, DCVC and Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam all contribute, according to a press release. Most notably, this was a16z’s first investment, Oasis CEO Dawn Song told CoinDesk.

The startup is now focusing on developing its core features, Song said, which will be deployed to the company’s private test network – slated to be opened to the public “soon.”

It’s the startup’s blockchain itself that may be garnering all the investor attention. According to Song, its architecture allows transactions to be verified with “far less duplication while providing the same level of integrity and security guarantees.”

She added:

“In our experiments we see performance orders of magnitude greater than Ethereum. This architecture also supports far more computationally intensive tasks like machine learning and AI, which are not possible with today’s blockchain technologies.”

“Security and privacy [are] built into every layer of the network,” she continued. As a result, the blockchain is built “top-to-bottom” with those two features in mind, ensuring that transactions can be verified without nodes seeing sensitive data and smart contracts will not leak private information.

The applications built upon the network will also differ from those currently being developed for existing platforms, Song explained. “For example, our machine learning framework enables smart contract developers to perform training and inference directly in the smart contract, while preserving privacy of data.”

“Our platform is also backwards compatible with Ethereum, making the transition easy for any developer that is already comfortable with existing tools,” she said.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Bitcoin Mining Behemoth, Bitmain, Reaches Stratospheric Valuation After Latest Funding Round

Bitmain, the largest cryptocurrency mining company in the world continues to attain even greater heights. The number one manufacturer of application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) bitcoin miners is now valued at $12 billion. This new valuation follows the recently concluded series B funding round which realized $400 million for the company. There are also reports that Bitmain plans to buy a majority stake in the upcoming Opera Ltd. IPO.

Worth $12 Billion

Local Chinese media outlet, Caixin, reported that a conglomerate of investors was able to raise $400 million in a new funding round for the mining giant. China-based Sequoia Capital, U.S.-based Coatue hedge fund, and Singapore government-owned EDBI were the primary investors in the funding drive. Sequoia Capital was also involved in Bitmain’s series A funding back in July 2017 which raised $50 million.

According to reports from the company, Bitmain might be conducting an IPO soon. Inside sources reveal that Hong Kong would likely be the location for the offering. If the company does go through with such a plan, it will join fellow mining company Canaan Creative which announced its IPO earlier in the year.

Bitmain is also gearing up to invest in the upcoming Opera Ltd. IPO. Opera is the company behind the eponymous web browser – Opera internet browser for desktop and smartphones. According to reports, Bitmain wishes to invest $50 million in buying the company’s shares during its $115 million IPO.

In a matter of four years, Bitmain has made itself become one of the most successful companies in the blockchain industry. The company reportedly made profits of about $3 billion to $4 billion in 2017. Bitmain controls the market for Bitcoin mining as the largest manufacturer of mining rig hardware.

Approaching 51 Percent Control of the Bitcoin Hashrate

Bitmain’s monopoly of the Bitcoin mining scene isn’t restricted to the manufacture of ASICs alone. The company also owns AntPool and BTC.com, the two largest BTC mining pools as well as a controlling stake in ViaBTC, the third largest mining pool. Together all three allow Bitmain to approach nearly 51 percent control of the Bitcoin mining hashrate. With such a level of control, the company could theoretically manipulate the BTC network. Bitmain has, however, maintained that it has no incentive to carry out such an attack, considering the sweeping financial ramifications.

The company also recently became a member of the 21 EOS block producers (BPs). EOS had faced a multitude of issues since its mainnet launch last month. There are widespread concerns about a lack of decentralization in the project. Reports emerged recently that stakeholders were trying to create a new constitution for the project.

Will Bitmain be able to control 51 percent of the Bitcoin network hashrate? Do you think Bitmain will be able to dominate the EOS mainnet? Keep the conversation going in the comment section below

Image courtesy of Blockchain.com.

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Andreessen Horowitz Has Launched a $300 Million Crypto Fund

Silicon Valley investment powerhouse Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) has launched a new $300 million fund focused on cryptocurrencies.

The fund, as explained in a blog post published Monday, will be named “a16z” and will notably feature former federal prosecutor and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Haun as one of its co-leads.

That the investment firm would move to vastly expand the scope of its activities in the industry is unsurprising, given the millions it has poured into projects and protocols built around a range of use cases. Andreessen Horowitz has also invested in a number of notable startups, including crypto exchange Coinbase.

General partner Chris Dixon indicated in the post that the crypto-fund would take a decidedly long-term tack in its investments.

“We’ve been investing in crypto assets for 5+ years,” he wrote. “We’ve never sold any of those investments, and don’t plan to any time soon. We structured the a16z crypto fund to be able to hold investments for 10+ years.”

Dixon went on to add:

“We plan to invest consistently over time, regardless of market conditions. If there is another ‘crypto winter,’ we’ll keep investing aggressively.”

In another hint at the fund’s overall thesis, Dixon said that a16z would focus its efforts on projects with a “non-speculative use case.”

“We want services powered by crypto protocols to be used by hundreds of millions and eventually billions of people,” Dixon wrote. “Crypto tokens are the native asset class of digital networks, but their value is driven by the underlying, practical uses cases.”

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Origin Token to Raise $6 Million in CoinList Investor ICO

Decentralized marketplace startup Origin Protocol is looking to expand its audience, as well as raise more capital, through a compliant token sale.

Announced Monday in a press release, Origin has set a target of $6.6 million for the offering, with SEC-registered CoinList Capital acting as its investment adviser and issuing platform.

Origin co-founder Josh Fraser said that, more important than the money, will be the opportunity to grow its network with endorsement from CoinList, an AngelList spin-off. The startup wants “as many people to participate as possible,” he told CoinDesk.

Fraser continued:

“There’s so many scammy projects out there, so anything you can do to set yourself apart is [great] … We’re really excited for a chance to work with CoinList and to be able to be the recipient of a very anticipated sale. If you look in our Telegram, you see people asking every single day to be a part.”

That being said, only accredited investors will be able to buy into Origin on CoinList’s platform at the moment. The co-founder explained that “while not everyone can participate yet, it goes a long way to allowing more people to participate.”

Origin will use the funds to further flesh out its blockchain. And while it isn’t in urgent need of new funds – having already raised $28 million in a SAFT sale and $3 million in a prior venture capital round – the startup still intends to make good use of the sale proceeds, according to Fraser.

“We’re going to continue building as we said we’re going to do, and we’re on schedule to launch [in the third quarter] like we said we would,” he said.

Fraser noted that the fundamental question the company is asking is whether open-source protocols could replace “not one, not two, but dozens of major companies.”

“We’re creating a platform for sharing economy type marketplaces … looking at how you can build decentralized Uber, decentralized AirBNB – these marketplaces where we can use a blockchain to create peer-to-peer marketplaces rather than using giant corporations and monopolies,” he said.

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Ripple Pumps $50 Million Into Academic Research on Blockchain

Ripple has announced it is setting aside millions of dollars to fund university-based research into blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

According to a news announcement published Monday, the University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI) will see the distributed ledger payments startup collaborate with 17 universities from across the globe to boost academic research within the industry.

Ripple says it will put over $50 million, as well as its own expertise and “technical resources,” into funding the initiative’s first group of university partners. The institutions will be able to set their research topics independently, according to the announcement.

The payments firm, which offers several blockchain-based products that are seeing growing adoption within the banking and money transfer industries, aims as part of the effort to collaborate on R&D that will “stimulate understanding and innovation” around blockchain, and also to help set up new curriculums to open up the technology to students.

The initiative is already getting off the ground at some universities, with the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton creating a program to study the policy impact of cryptocurrencies and blockchain in the U.S. and globally.

And, among others, UBRI is also participating in a fintech initiative at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab to work with researchers on topics including blockchain, cryptocurrencies, cybersecurity and international payments.

Outside the U.S., the project’s 17 universities include institutions in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Europe, India and South Korea.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Ripple (XRP) Xpring Financial Backing for Innovators Announced

Ripple [XRP] cryptocurrency, known for being focused on delivering better solutions and improvements when it comes to cross-border money transfers, has announced a new project called Xpring which will act as a financial supportive ground for developers that plan to contribute to Ripple’s network.

When it comes to Ripple, its original goal of being the leading international money remittance service takes shape and form even more every time a partnership is declared or its solutions undergo trials [tests] by various platforms.

Xpring will fund projects that do seem promising for XRP and its future, functioning as a hybrid accelerator/incubator project that will engage “serious” concepts and companies being developed by “proven” entrepreneurs.

In the Xpring related press release, it was mentioned that the plan for the project is to make sure that projects of interest to have what is needed essentially to grow and develop even further.

Ethan Beard – Senior Vice President is running the show for the fund together with a just-made team. On the matter, Mr. Beard gave center-stage on how important it is for the use cases of Ripple’s platform to spread even more:

“I love helping startups leverage new technologies and developments to grow. At Facebook, we saw companies in areas like gaming, music, and news use our platform to become big businesses. Blockchain and digital assets have the ability to solve important problems and XRP – with it’s speed, scalability and demonstrated real-world use case – is a great tool for startups and entrepreneurs to build businesses around.”

Latest – The intention to find use of Ripple’s distributed ledger technology for showcasing international money transfer has been declared by Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.

Utilizing the solutions that the blockchain based tech firm is offering has come as an idea keeping in mind that it will lower time and costs of transaction settlement – according to Mitsubishi Corporation.

“We aim for practical use within a few years,” the statement highlights.