Helium Inc., the company behind the fast-growing Helium blockchain, has rebranded as Nova Labs.
Nova Labs also confirmed earlier reports of a $200 million Series D funding round led by Tiger Global, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY) and others. The latest funding round brings the California-based company’s valuation to $1.2 billion.
The so-called “People’s Network” – a decentralized telecommunications network powered by crypto incentives – is growing fast. Over 680,000 mining “hotspots” are online, with approximately 75,000 new hotspots being added monthly, according to Nova Labs Chief Operating Officer Frank Mong. Hotspot owners provide spare bandwidth in exchange for HNT tokens, which currently trade at $24.68 a pop.
Mong said there are hotspots in over 50,000 cities around the world, with another 5,000 cities being added to the map each month.
“The flywheel has really taken off,” Mong told CoinDesk.
But such rapid growth hasn’t always been a smooth ride for the network. Supply chain issues and extensive shipping delays have plagued the project, slowing the expansion of the network and angering would-be miners facing wait times of up to a year for their equipment.
Mong denied that the decision to rebrand as Nova Labs was due to bad press.
Instead, he said the name change is meant to give a greater sense of separation between the parent company (which began as a non-crypto tech startup in 2013 and only made the switch to a crypto-powered network in 2019) and the network, which Mong said belongs to the Helium community.
“We wanted to make the distinction very clear,” Mong told CoinDesk.
The open-source technology will be governed by a new foundation, The Helium Foundation, which will oversee the rights to the brand, Mong said.
“It will be community-run, community-driven, community-owned and -governed,” Mong said. “And Nova Labs, the original creators, not only are we still participants but we’re still investing in driving growth and innovation.”
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