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Venture capital investors are virtually falling over each other to invest vast sums in Bitcoin technology startups, many of which are led by seasoned and experienced private equity moguls.
2014 was the year in which Bitcoin’s image turned full circle from being a highly risky, volatile, un-backed fringe currency whose progress into the mainstream was stunted by the demise of digital currency exchanges, security issues and seizures by government authorities as a result of illicit trade in anonymous marketplaces into a bona fide alternative payment method which is recognized by regulators in some of the world’s most prominent financial centers, and full backing to develop technological infrastructure.
During last year’s progression into the mainstream, venture capital investors backed a series of Bitcoin ventures, however this week, a milestone has been reached in the $116 million round of funding secured by San Francisco-based 21 Inc.
A remarkable factor is the amount of funding received by the firm, which is still in its start up stage.
21 Inc’s lead investors include U.S. venture-capital top names Andreessen Horowitz and RRE Ventures, along with Chinese private equity firm Yuan Capital, with a strategic stake going to technology firm QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) through its venture-capital unit.
Additionally, Khosla Ventures and Data Collective have invested in 21 Inc, as well as chief executives and founders from various technology companies, including PayPal co-founders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, eBay Inc. co-founder Jeff Skoll, Dropbox Inc. CEO Drew Houston, Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Zynga Inc. co-founder Mark Pincus.
Chief Executive and co-founder of 21 Inc Matthew Pauker explained to the Wall Street Journal that there will be “several interesting developments over the next weeks and months” about software and hardware products designed “to drive mainstream adoption of bitcoin.”
The investment in what has until now been a relatively quiet start up venture represents a new precedent in funding for such companies, outstripping the $75 million round of funding provided to Coinbase recently, itself a well-known entity in the Bitcoin industry.