Coinbase announced yesterday that it has raised $75m in VC funding – the biggest investment in a bitcoin company so far.
The funding came as part of a Series C round that attracted a range of financial heavyweights such as the New York Stock Exchange, Fortune 500 financial services group USAA, and Spanish banking group BBVA, as well as Japanese telecoms giant DoCoMo.
While the bitcoin services company has spent the last year building out new services and expanding to Europe, venture capitalists have remained active in the ecosystem. Funding for bitcoin startups soared in 2014, showing a three-fold increase to $314.7m, up from $93.8m the year before
In this article, CoinDesk looks back at the previous largest investment rounds in bitcoin-focused startups.
Amount raised: $30.5m
Closing date: October 2014
Investors: Lightspeed Ventures, Wicklow Capital, Mosaic Ventures, Prudence Holdings, Future Perfect Ventures, Rafael Corrales, Amit Jhawar, Nat Brown and individual investors.
What it has done since: Blockchain said that it would use the funding to grow its product and engineering teams, and expand and invest in developing markets. As well as its popular wallet, Blockchain provides software tools for merchants to accept bitcoin and owns bitcoin price and data provider ZeroBlock.
Amount raised: $30m
Closing date: May 2014
Investors: Index Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Founders Fund, Horizons Ventures, RRE Ventures, Sir Richard Branson and TTV Capital.
What has it done since: BitPay continues to sign up big merchants like Microsoft and promote bitcoin with high visibility projects like the Bitcoin Bowl. The payment processor also launched a beta version of its open-source, multi-signature bitcoin wallet Copay onto the Windows Phone app store earlier this month and partnered with global charities such as Save the Children to enable bitcoin donations.
Amount raised: $25m
Closing date: December 2013
Investors: QueensBridge Venture Partners, Anthony Saleh, Nasir 'Nas' Jones, Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures and Ribbit Capital.
What it has done since: It has signed a number of billion dollar merchants including TV service provider Dish, Expedia and Dell, hired a former Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Advisor and added a series of new features including multi-signature vault storage, and an API called ‘Toshi’. The wallet and merchant services provider also said that it had teamed up with Aon, one of the world’s top brokers, to protect its users’ bitcoin wallets.
Amount raised: $21m
Closing date: November 2014
Investors: LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Khosla Ventures, Real Ventures, Crypto Currency Partners, Innovation Endeavors, Future\Perfect Ventures, Mosaic Ventures, Ribbit Capital, AME Cloud Ventures, Nicolas Berggruen, Max Levchin, Ray Ozzie, Danny Hillis and Embrace.
What it has done since: Blockstream said that the funding would be used mostly to realise its 'sidechains' proposal on the bitcoin network, which would enable assets to be exchanged across multiple blockchains via a tw0-way pegging system. The MIT Technology Review has reported that Blockstream is now working on a new technology that will use the code that underpins bitcoin to secure other kinds of assets, like contracts or ownership of stock.
Amount raised: $20m
Closing date: October 2014
Investors: Bill Tai, Bob Dykes, Georgian Co-Investment Fund and Lars Rasmussen.
What it has done since: CEO Valery Vavilov discussed BitFury's long-term strategy in the bitcoin market with CoinDesk, saying that he sees the company as one that could potentially extend its reach beyond the industrial mining and business-to-business hardware markets.
Amount raised: $20m (raised as the second half of Xapo's bigger $40m A round)
Closing date: July 2014
Investors: Index Ventures, Greylock Partners, Emergence Capital Partners, Yuri Milner, Max Levchin, Jerry Yang, Winklevoss Capital, David Marcus and Crypto Currency Partners.
What it has done since: Xapo launched its bitcoin debit card in August last year, amid speculation from some of its global customers. It is currently working to bolster its security offerings by locating elements of its security architecture within a low Earth orbit satellite.
Amount raised: $17m
Closing date: March 2014
Investors: Breyer Capital, Accel Partners, General Catalyst Partners, Oak Investment Partners, Pantera Capital, Bitcoin Opportunity Fund and individual investors.
What is has done since: In September 2014, Circle announced that its digital money platform was available worldwide. Although it initially launched US-only mobile apps in November last year, the firm said that international versions were "imminent", along with support for more languages and currencies. More recently, the bitcoin-based consumer finance company integrated near-field communication (NFC) into its wallet payment system, enabling users to transact with its Android app wherever bitcoin and NFC are available.
Amount raised: $14.5m
Closing date: October 2014
Investors: Highland Capital Partners, Rakuten, James Pallotta, Stuart Peterson, Bill McKiernan, Stephens Investment Management, Bitcoin Opportunity Fund, Commerce Ventures, Webb Investment Network and Buchanan Investment.
What it has done since: CEO John McDonnell, speaking at a Bloomberg's Bitcoin event in New York, said: "the answer to consumer protection, money laundering, criminal activity or any other regulatory issue can be automated", calling it the "recurring theme" and the "recurring answer". McDonnell spoke of the value of multi-signature transactions and challenged the debate about regulation, saying: "Give us the regulation, give us the thing you need and we'll figure out how to collect it – and we’ll do it in an automated fashion. It’s all about the technology, it’s all about automation, and it’s all about eliminating that human element".
Amount raised: $14m
Closing date: September 2014
What it has done since: KNCMiner unveiled a new cloud-mining service in September last year, offering six-month contracts from its bitcoin mine in the Arctic. The mining industry as a whole is facing trouble with bitcoin's recent decline in price, with some mining companies such as CEX.io suspending its cloud mining activities earlier this month. In spite of this, KNCMiner continues to expand its bitcoin and blockchain-empowering processing units in northern Sweden. The cryptocurrency mining hardware designer also said it was planning to deploy its next generation bitcoin ASICs in early 2015.
Amount raised: $12m
Closing date: June 2014
Investors: Redpoint Ventures, Bitcoin Opportunity Corp, Radar Partners, Liberty City Ventures, Crypto Currency Partners, A-Grade Investments, Jeffrey S Skoll, Bill Lee, Founders Fund, Eric Hahn and Bridgescale Partners.
What it has done since: The American startup has received extra funding, most notably from BitFury Capital which donated an undisclosed amount. Its notable deployments include the Bitcoin Foundation's decision to use BitGo's Enterprise product to manage its financial operations.
Amount raised: $10m
Closing date: March 2014
Investors: Ceyuan, Mandra Capital, VenturesLab, PreAngel and individual investors.
What it has done since: The exchange, which is China's largest by trading volume, announced that the funds would be used to expand the team, fund product research and development, expand security enhancements and to spread OKCoin's operations beyond China. OkCoin has since launched and improved its app, added advanced features for traders and introduced a peer-to-peer lending service.
Disclaimer: CoinDesk founder Shakil Khan is an investor in BitPay.
Cash image via Shutterstock
Correction: A previous version of this article wrongly stated that BitGo was based in Canada. This has been corrected to reflect that it is based in the United States of America. The article also wrongly stated that BitGo had held an additional series A round in December, raising $3.5m.