The privacy-centric bitcoin wallet Wasabi, launched by zkSNACKs Ltd. in 2018, just raised its first equity investment from Cypherpunk Holdings, a publicly-traded Canadian firm.
Cypherpunk Holdings CEO Dominic Frisby said the firm invested $337,500 in exchange for a 4.5 percent stake, valuing the wallet startup at $7.5 million.
“It’s extraordinary for a tech company, this early in its evolution, to have the revenues that Wasabi already has,” Frisby said. “It’s one of the only forms of a crypto wallet that have a revenue model.”
Although the zkSNACKs team didn’t respond to requests for comment, co-founder Adam Fiscor previously told CoinDesk the company’s mixer transaction fees earned 14 bitcoin in July 2019 alone (roughly $112,000 by current prices). It appears Wasabi Wallet processed at least 5,373 mixed CoinJoins in July, August and early September. If that trend continued for 12 months, it would put revenues at over $1 million.
This newest addition rounds out Cypherpunk’s holdings, which include roughly 2,000 monero and 180 bitcoin, Frisby said, in addition to equity in the rival privacy project Samourai Wallet (valued at $6.6 million, based on Cypherpunk’s $100,000 investment for 1.5 percent equity) and the blockchain startup Chia, founded by cypherpunk legend Bram Cohen.
“Both wallets, and privacy-enabling services, have very impressive network effects in that the more participants there are, the more private each participant is,” Cypherpunk’s CIO Moe Adham said. “Wasabi is well-positioned to capture much of that market … not only for personal use but also for enterprises."
Frisby said the fund was initially focused on providing exposure to privacy coins, but found scant traction among assets like zcash and quickly pivoted to projects that boost privacy for the bitcoin network.
“We want to make two or three more privacy-tech investments, looking at things like VPNs, messaging systems, that type of thing,” he said, adding the firm is looking to deploy a large chunk of its $1.4 million in fiat holdings by mid-2020.
In a press release, zkSNACKs CEO Bálint Harmat said these new shareholders as strategic partners helping “make Bitcoin fungible.”
All things considered, this round proves an open-source product can go from a bootstrapped volunteer project that paid contributors with donated and earned bitcoin, all the way to VC-backed startup in roughly two years, pioneering a bitcoin-centric business model.
“You just can’t underestimate the network effect of bitcoin,” Frisby said.
Dominic Frisby image via Cypherpunk Holdings