Andreessen Horowitz and Polychain Capital Lead $102 million Funding Round for DFINITY “World Computer” Project

News and Analysis

DFINITY, a Switzerland-based blockchain startup has raised $102 million in a private sale of tokens to accredited investors, in a round jointly led by Andreessen Horowitz and Polychain Capital.

Both were previous investors in a $61 million round DFINITY announced earlier this year. Founded in 2015, DFINITY has now raised just over $195 million.

Other backers include SV Angel, Aspect Ventures, and Multicoin Capital. Andreessen Horowitz said DFINITY is the biggest position in its two-month old cryptocurrency fund a16z crypto, but declined to disclose the exact amount it invested.

As reported by TechCrunch, DFINITY’s approach to the scalability problem is to resolve the dilemma between full decentralization (where every miner runs every instruction of every computation) versus delegating the mechanics to nodes or super nodes (so therefore more centralization). The project says it has tested its network to the point where it can finalize software computations in under 5 seconds. Bitcoin by contrast takes 3,600 seconds, and Ethereum 600 seconds.

DFINITY conducted an airdrop in May of 35 million Swiss Francs worth of tokens to DFINITY community members to help them become early users. Now DFINITY has followed this new approach of raising funds via a private sale for its token, rather than going to a public sale.

Tokens were sold for $4.18 each in this round, Dominic Williams, DFINITY ‘s president and chief scientist, told Bloomberg. Coins worth about $35 million were also distributed for free to members of the community in an airdrop. According to Williams, DFINITY hasn’t done an ICO because of regulatory uncertainty.

While a lot of blockchain projects are tied up with currency, what’s notable about DFINITY’s efforts is that it mostly focuses on building a platform that could be used across a significantly wider set of applications.

The Internet Computer, as described by Dominic Williams, “is a public infrastructure that aims to host the world’s next generation of software and services.” The DFINITY team also says that by making it open source and non-proprietary, it’s significantly more secure and less costly to maintain. For example, DFINITY claims that R&D on such an architecture is 90 percent lower.

A beta version of the network is slated to launch in the first half of next year, Williams said, adding that funding will be used to develop the technology and promote the protocol. The organization has 46 employees, including Timo Hanke as head of engineering, who created AsicBoost to increase the efficiency of Bitcoin mining, and Adreas Rossberg, ex-Googler who had co-designed the WebAssembly virtual machine, which is also used at DFINITY.

You can read more about the technology in DFINITY’s white paper.

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