The rate at which venture capital has been entering into the bitcoin ecosystem this year has been quite impressive. More interesting is the fact that this is happening in spite of the drop in the cryptocurrency’s value from an all-time high, 4-digit level to about a couple of hundred dollars currently.
The fall in bitcoin value over the last two or so years has been quite tremendous – from an all-time high price in excess of $1,200 to a value between $200 and $300 for the most part of this year, according to the Business Journals. Yet, the amount of bitcoin startup funding witnessed in the first half of this year has exceeded the total funding generated the whole of last year.
Bitcoin startups were able to raise about $375 million in a total of 52 deals from January to June this year, as reported by CB Insights. That figure eclipsed the total capital raised in 79 deals in 2014 by around 11 percent.
What could be responsible for this increased interest in bitcoin startups? From the discussions the Business Journals had with some venture capitalists, it was discovered that the cryptocurrency’s underlying technology Blockchain is the main attraction. This technology eliminates the need for a central authority, relying instead on cryptography. It holds the potential of virtually eliminating current main actors in a financial system such as governments and banks from involvement in transactions. From this perspective, one can easily explain the upsurge in bitcoin startup funding.
Below are the top five Bitcoin deals this year, as compiled by CB Insights:
The San Francisco-based 21 Inc develops a chip that can be embedded into numerous types of Internet-connected devices, giving users ability to generate a continuous flow of cryptocurrency. The company, whose co-founders include Andreessen Horowitz partner Balaji Srinivasan, has raised $116 million in funding. Investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Cisco Investments, Qualcomm Ventures and RRE Ventures as well as Khosla Ventures.
This bitcoin wallet and exchange service provider is a popular name in the bitcoin community. Coinbase allows users to create bitcoin wallets than can be linked to their bank accounts to enable easy purchase and sale of bitcoin. Investors in the company, which is also based San Francisco, include Andreessen Horowitz, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, NYSE Euronext, BBVA Ventures and NTT DoCoMo Ventures.
Founded by ColdFusion investor Jeremy Allaire, Circle assists customers with digital storage of funds and transfers to merchants and other users. Accel Partners, Goldman Sachs, Breyer Capital, IDG Capital Partners and Digital Currency Group are some of its investors.
Headquartered in San Francisco, this startup is the developer of the Ripple Protocol, a currency remittance and settlement system. Investors in Ripple Labs, whose CEO Chris Larsen was honored as a “Technology Pioneer” recently by the World Economic Forum, include IDG Capitals, Seagate Technology, China Growth Capital, Liquidity Ventures and AME Cloud Ventures.
Established by some Wall Street professionals, ItBit is a global bitcoin exchange with headquarters in New York. Investors include RRE Ventures, Liberty City Ventures, private equity fund manager Jay Jordan II and hedge fund manager James Pallota.