Jack Dorsey-Backed East African Bitcoin Miner Gridless Raises $2M

Dorsey’s Block and bitcoin venture-capital firm Stillmark co-led a seed funding round.

AccessTimeIconDec 6, 2022 at 7:45 a.m. UTC
Updated Dec 13, 2022 at 5:20 p.m. UTC
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Gridless, a bitcoin mining company that helps generate new sources of energy in rural communities in East Africa, said Tuesday that it secured $2 million in a seed investment round led by bitcoin venture-capital firm Stillmark and payments company Block, a firm that is led by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

The investment will support the company’s expansion of bitcoin mines across African markets. In its first year, Gridless started five projects in rural Kenya with African hydroelectric energy company HydroBox, three of which are operational. The company plans to expand to other East African regions in the near future.

Gridless designs, builds and operates bitcoin mining sites alongside small-scale renewable energy producers in rural Africa where excess energy is unused. Gridless serves as the anchor tenant, financing the construction and managing the operation of data centers in rural communities where traditional industrial or commercial customers are unavailable.

Gridless brings “a socially and environmentally conscious approach to bitcoin mining, one that provides tangible benefits by way of access to electricity for communities in rural parts of East Africa,” Alyse Killeen, managing partner at Stillmark, said in an announcment.

Thomas Templeton, bitcoin mining and wallet lead at Block, added: “Gridless represents a close strategic alignment with our vision of ensuring the bitcoin network increasingly leverages clean energy, in combination with bitcoin computational centers around the world.”

The funding comes as Africa experiences a grassroots crypto movement. It has the world's highest proportion of retail payments of less than $1,000 and more peer-to-peer transactions proportionally than any other region. Bitcoin miners, however, have been struggling to survive amid this year’s grueling market conditions, which have seen bitcoin (BTC) prices fall and energy costs surge, reducing profit margins.

In recent months, though, mining companies that have access to low-cost energy and more innovative business models have succeeded in raising capital.

In August, a new solar-powered bitcoin miner, Aspen Creek Digital Corp., raised $8 million in a Series A funding round, and Vespene Energy, a company that converts methane gas released from landfills into power for bitcoin mining, closed a $4.3 million funding round.

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George Kaloudis is a research analyst and columnist for CoinDesk.