The world’s best-funded bitcoin startup, 21 Inc., which received $116 million US dollars in funding earlier this year, has revealed plans to market a line of bitcoin mining chips to embed in consumer devices, allowing smartphones and other internet connected devices to continuously mine bitcoin via their embedded bitcoin mining chip, named ‘BitShare’.
In March, the company said it had stealthily received $116 million in funding– a record for bitcoin companies and startups. Companies and individuals that funded 21 Inc. include venture-capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and RRE Venture, chipmaker Qualcomm, and other individuals such as Dropbox CEO Drew Houston; eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll; Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi; PayPal co-founders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin; and Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus. 21 Inc. kept its business plans secret, although rumors were circulating that the company was planning to enable bitcoin mining in household electronics.
21 Inc. Co-Founder Balaji Srinivasan has stated in a blog post various uses for 21’s embeddable mining chip, mostly aimed at what it sees as “consumer uses” in the future for bitcoin rather than treating mining as a means “simply to get rich.” He also announced that he is taking over from Matthew Pauker as Chief Executive Officer at 21 Inc. and that 21’s board will now include Ben Horowitz, the founding partner at Andreessen Horowitz (a venture capital firm).
In addition to serving enterprise and large clients, 21 confirmed it will seek to use its chips to onboard consumers to the bitcoin network. As stated in its 2014 company overview, this would be accomplished by signing consumers up for a mining pool that would split the proceeds from any payouts received.
Among the potential consumer use cases for the ‘BitShare’ chip were micropayments on mobile devices. Srinivasan said the chips would resolve the difficulties consumers face in the developing world when needing to “dig out their credit cards” to make online purchases. This means that every mobile device would essentially have a bitcoin wallet built in.
Investors in 21 Inc., such as Nagraj Kashyap, Senior Vice President at Qualcomm Ventures, have praised 21 Inc.’s technologies and developments:
“We think 21’s technology has the potential to span across a wide variety of industries and look forward to working with Balaji and the team.”
21 Inc’s announcement sparked a heated discussion over at Bitcointalk and Reddit, where users debated how feasible the chips would be. However, Mr. Bajali made seven points for their success:
- A new approach to micropayments.
- Decentralized device authentication.
- Machine Twitter.
- Devices that can pay for associated services.
- Devices that can pay your channel partners.
- Bitcoin-subsidized devices for the developing world.
More announcements from 21 Inc outlining details of their plans are anticipated.