Block.one Announces Investment Round Led by Peter Thiel, Bitmain
Block.one, the company behind distributed blockchain network EOS, has announced a new funding round led by Peter Thiel and Chinese ASICs manufacturer Bitmain. Few details about the deal were released by the company, leaving unknown the terms of the investments.
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Thiel, Bitmain and Two Hedge Funds Invest in Block.one
Investing alongside Thiel and Bitmain were two hedge fund managers: Alan Howard of Brevan Howard Asset Management LLP and Louis Bacon of Moore Capital Management LP. Thiel is the most prominent investor yet to take a stake in Block.one, which just completed a year-long ICO that raised $4 billion USD.
Thiel, who is reportedly worth $2.6 billion, has a long history of technology investing, including being the co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook. According to reports, he began investing in bitcoin in the last year. He also co-founded Palantir Technologies, a data analytics company that works with U.S. government agencies such as the CIA, Homeland Security, and local police departments, as well as financial institutions. Wired recently reported that Palantir has attracted criticism from police departments in the United States for complaints such as failing to keep sensitive information about criminal cases confidential, high prices, and difficult-to-use software.
Bitmain is one of the world’s largest makers of ASIC chips for cryptocurrency mining. It received a funding round of around $400 million in July that brought the value of the Chinese company to $12 billion, news which Bitsonline reported on in June. Now it, in turn, is making investments of its own in the crypto space. The Paradise Papers, which are leaks of confidential data related to offshore investments that occurred in November of 2017, showed some business connections between Bitmain and Lei Jun, the billionaire head of Chinese smartphone make Xiaomi.
Of the new investment, Jihan Wu of Bitmain said:
“The EOSIO protocol is a great example of blockchain innovation. Its performance and scalability can meet the needs of demanding consumer applications and will pave the way for mainstream blockchain adoption.”
Block.one Courting Employees, Investments
Block.one has been busily adding personnel and courting investment in 2018. Earlier this month, it hired Michael Alexander, the CEO American bank Jeffries Group to head its venture capital arm. And in May, the firm hired Rob Jesudason, the former CFO of Commonwealth Bank to be its COO and President.
Back in January, Block.one and former hedge funder manager Mike Novogratz together created a $325 million joint fund that would be used to fund EOS projects. Block.one also said in a statement that it previously took investments from Christian Angermayer of Apeiron Investment Group and Lansdowne Investment Company Ltd.
A Winding Road for EOS
Block.one has courted its fair share of criticism since it began its ICO for EOS. In March, it ended its long-standing relationship with actor-turned-crypto-enthusiast Brock Pierce after a segment on the John Oliver show highlighted a past legal controversy that Pierce was involved in.
After the completion of the ICO in June, it took two weeks for the EOS mainnet to go live, after a drawn out voting procedure. Though Block.one funded and created the EOS software, the firm left it to quasi-independent “block producers” to set up the 21 nodes which run the network. Though it is currently up and running, the network was briefly taken offline shortly after launch due to a technical glitch.
Following that, there has been an ongoing debate regarding control of the network after a supposedly independent entity called the EOS Core Arbitration Forum began banning accounts and seizing EOS tokens. This led to Block.one CTO Dan Larimer to propose a modification to the EOS Constitution, a process which is still under discussion.
Finally, last week, Block.one also decided it would be begin using its large stash of EOS tokens to vote for block producers, a step it had up till then avoided taking. This attracted criticism from crypto investors like Arianna Simpson of Autonomous Partners, who commented to the press that Block.one involving itself in EOS voting “undermines their role as a neutral third party and affords them a significant amount of influence over the network.”
Have your say. Is EOS going places with such big backers? Let us know where you stand in the comments below.
Images via Pixabay, Fortune