Tools for Humanity, the team behind Worldcoin, has raised $115 million in a Series C funding round led by Blockchain Capital with participation from a16z, Bain Capital Crypto and Distributed Global. Worldcoin, a decentralized open source protocol, was co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.
The nine-figure funding round is a rare sight during an extended crypto bear market that has slowed venture capital investments in the space to a trickle. The announcement comes as a black market for Worldcoin credentials emerges in China.
Currently in beta, Worldcoin is being built around the decentralized World ID and the Worldcoin token. The project has onboarded nearly 2 million people already, according to the company. The capital will help accelerate research and development and growth efforts on the Worldcoin project and the World App, the first crypto wallet for the Worldcoin ecosystem.
“As we embark on the age of AI, it is imperative that individuals are able to maintain personal privacy while proving their humanness. In doing so we can help ensure that everyone can realize the financial benefits that AI is poised to deliver,” said Alex Blania, CEO and co-founder of Tools for Humanity and Worldcoin contributor, in the press release.
Worldcoin has attracted controversy with its use of a biometric imaging device called the Orb, which verifies a person is a unique person and not a bot.
Blockchain Capital general partner Spencer Bogart noted on Twitter that Worldcoin is a widely misunderstood project that "appears to be a noxious combination of hardware, biometrics, crypto and AI." Bogart hmself thought Worldcoin was "some dystopian Orwellian nightmare" until the Blockchain Capital team spent hundreds of hours evaluating what Worldcoin contributors had actually built. The team found that World ID has a "unique opportunity to establish and scale a new privacy-preserving primitive" that can allow any application to distinguish between humans and bots.
"With an ability to easily distinguish between machines and humans, we can improve the UX of the internet, enable myriad new features and applications, and help restore trust in digital communities (knowingly conversing with real humans instead of bot armies)," wrote Bogart.
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Update (UTC 14:48): Adds context about the Orb and Spencer Bogart’s tweets.
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