Bitcoin startup Circle lands $17 million

March 26, 2014: 9:00 AM ET

The Bitcoin exchange business also launches its first consumer-focused product today.

"My perceptions is that 95% of the users are alpha-geek types who want to own a bitcoin and say they own a bitcoin. They think that hopefully it'll go up in value and so forth," says Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire. Photo: Circle.

FORTUNE -- Circle Internet Financial has just raised another $17 million, Fortune has learned.

The Bitcoin exchange startup, founded and run by serial entrepreneur Jeremy Allaire, closed its Series B financing round, bringing Circle's total funding to $26 million. Oak Investment Partners led the round, joining other new backers such as Pantera Capital and the Bitcoin Opportunity Fund of Barry Silbert, CEO of SecondMarket. Previous investors Breyer Capital, Accel and General Catalyst also participated in the round. According to Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire, the startup will use its new funding to grow from 20 employees to around 45 by the end of 2014, as well as invest in areas such as security and compliance.

"My perception is that 95% of Bitcoin users are alpha-geek types who want to own a bitcoin and say they own one," says Circle CEO and founder Jeremy Allaire. "We're trying to take a mid- to long-term view on what the opportunity is, which is to provide consumer financial services that are acceptable to a much more mainstream user base than where the market is today."

MORE: One more reason not to spend your bitcoin

To wit, Circle's first consumer-focused product also launches today: a feature that allows users to open a new, secure account, deposit traditional currency, and have that automatically converted into a digital equivalent. Allaire hopes this feature offers a simple user experience not unlike how Skype enables its members to easily conduct voice and video calls.

While it's still early days for cryptocurrencies, Ifty Ahmed, a partner with Oak Investment Partners, led Circle's latest round of funding because he sees huge market potential, which in turn, means huge potential for ventures like Circle. Says Ahmed: "Jeremy has been extremely proactive about compliance and policy, and that already makes Circle head and shoulders more competitive than others in the space."

  • Banks can now work with marijuana companies, but is Bitcoin better?

    Even with permission, banks aren't eager to work with marijuana companies.

    FORTUNE -- Late Friday the U.S. government released new rules that allow banks to work with licensed marijuana businesses. Banks have been reticent to provide services to companies in the burgeoning marijuana industry because the legality is murky. Marijuana is legal for recreational use in Colorado and Washington, and for medicinal use in 18 other states.

    The new guidance asks banks MORE

    - Feb 17, 2014 5:00 AM ET
  • Marc Andreessen: Tech is recovering from a depression

    The venture capitalist disputes arguments of another Valley bubble. Also: why Bitcoin is a breakthrough technology that's likely here to stay.

    FORTUNE -- Contrary to arguments that Silicon Valley is repeating the same process that led to the dotcom bust in the early 2000s, Marc Andreessen argues tech is doing something entirely different: emerging from an industrywide depression.

    "I think we're recovering from a depression, and I think we felt the MORE

    - Feb 12, 2014 7:00 PM ET
  • 7 tech questions for 2014

    To hell with resolutions. I want answers.

    FORTUNE -- Some people think of a new year as a time for resolutions, others for predictions. Me? Everywhere I turn, I find myself asking questions.

    For example, I recently wondered why Jeff Bezos's wife, MacKenzie Bezos, so hated the book about Amazon (AMZN) by Bloomberg Businessweek writer Brad Stone, The Everything Store, enough to give it a one-star review. I answered that question here, MORE

    - Jan 5, 2014 11:59 AM ET
    Posted in: , , , ,
  • Native ads? Bitcoins? 5 tech buzzwords explained

    What some of the trendiest words in tech actually mean.

    By Kurt Wagner, reporter

    FORTUNE -- Buzzwords are an unfortunate side effect of a burgeoning tech sect0r. The general public can't be blamed for being unfamiliar with the phrases tossed around Silicon Valley. Here are five of the most prevalent -- and often times misunderstood -- tech terms in vogue now:

    Native Advertising: Native ads are meant to blend in. The point is to create MORE

    Jun 10, 2013 6:43 AM ET
  • Why PayPal is bullish on Bitcoin

    President David Marcus tells Fortune why he embraces digital currency, how he thinks the trend will play out, and when Americans can reasonably expect to go wallet-less.

    FORTUNE -- The way PayPal President David Marcus sees it, wallets are on the way out. The question isn't "if" they become antiquated, but instead "when."

    To wit, the payments company released a study this week that revealed that 83% of people polled in five countries, MORE

    - May 23, 2013 12:47 PM ET
  • The clock is ticking on Bitcoin

    With recent exposure bringing the online currency to the attention of wary lawmakers, expect to see Bitcoins disappear. But it may take a while.

    By Daniel Roberts, reporter

    FORTUNE -- If you want a chicken pita from Meze Grill in midtown Manhattan today, you can fork over $8.75 or give them about half a Bitcoin. The restaurant began accepting Bitcoin Tuesday and its owner is excited, although a manager on Wednesday said MORE

    Jun 17, 2011 12:29 PM ET
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by VIP.