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Skilljar (www.skilljar.com), a Seattle-based online courseware platform, announced today that instructors using its course platform are now accepting payments in Bitcoin.
Skilljar is used by online education instructors to deliver classes directly from their own websites, with topics ranging from yoga to computer programming.
Bitcoin Comes to Online Courseware
Instructors on Skilljar’s platform are automatically enabled for Bitcoin payments, in addition to accepting credit, debit, and PayPal. Bitcoin payments are converted to fiat currency at time of purchase, so instructors are protected from currency fluctuation risks.
“We’re really excited to accept Bitcoin for our Food Startup Branding classes,” said Danielle Gould, CEO and founder of Food+Tech Connect. “Because our goal is to decentralize and democratize learning, it’s important for us to align ourselves with innovative technologies that share our ethos. Skilljar’s platform has made it very easy.”
“The decision to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment was simple,” said Sandi Lin, CEO and co-founder of Skilljar. “It was driven by instructor requests, ease of integration, and the international nature of our business. Since we already use Stripe for payment processing, their beta program with Bitcoin made it easy to integrate while also leveraging our existing payments infrastructure.”
Skilljar Investors See Promise in Bitcoin
Skilljar’s interest in Bitcoin extends beyond the executive chambers.
Will O’Brien, CEO of leading Bitcoin security firm BitGo and also an angel investor in Skilljar, said, “Skilljar is the easiest way to deliver online courses, and by adding Bitcoin as a payment method, the company has dramatically increased its addressable market and is furthering innovation in online education.”
Skilljar was founded in 2013 by three former Amazon colleagues. The company incubated at TechStars Seattle 2013 and subsequently raised $1.1 million in financing.
Finally the winner has been revealed.
Tim Draper, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, was the sole winner of the US Marshal Bitcoin auction. Mr. Draper purchased all 30,000 BTC, outbidding many other participants in the auction such as Barry Silbert’s SecondMarket.
Draper is an investor in Vaurum, an exchange platform for financial institutions.
In a statement, Vaurum founder Avish Bhama said that Draper’s new bitcoins will be used to provide liquidity to emerging markets through Vaurum.
“Bitcoin frees people from trying to operate in a modern market economy with weak currencies. With the help of Vaurum and this newly purchased bitcoin, we expect to be able to create new services that can provide liquidity and confidence to markets that have been hamstrung by weak currencies,” said Draper. “Of course, no one is totally secure in holding their own country’s currency. We want to enable people to hold and trade bitcoin to secure themselves against weakening currencies.”
Vaurum has launched trading platforms in emerging markets, and we will be partnering with Tim to leverage the pool of ~30,000+ bitcoins as a liquidity source. It’s still quite difficult to get access to bitcoin in these developing economies — and that’s exactly where it is needed the most. Our goal is to build reliable infrastructure and increase liquidity, which are two major challenges in the ecosystem.
This is a guest post by Daniel Friedberg of Riddell Williams.
Actions Speak Louder than Words; Feds Agree to Auction Bitcoin
Bitcoins seized in connection with drug trafficking were auctioned off by authorities on June 27. The auction took place on June 27 from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT. The property was sold in nine blocks of 3,000 bitcoins, and one block of approximately 2,656 bitcoins, for a total of approximately 29,657 bitcoins.
The winning bidder will receive a signed Bill of Sale from the United States Marshals Service in connection with the transfer of the bitcoins. By such Bill of Sale, the US will by its actions confirm that bitcoin may be sold to the general public, thereby finally endorsing the concept of bitcoin fungibility, albeit, ironically, for its own account.
This historic transaction is being cited as evidence that a bitcoin sale does not constitute a sale of securities under Federal law.
The bitcoin will apparently not be sold by the US Marshal in a registered securities offering, or one that expressly meets an exemption from registration, as the auction has been publicly advertised without typical required boilerplate securities contract provisions. Concerns that the SEC might take the position that bitcoin constitutes a “security” are not consistent with the Federal government’s proposed sale terms. It is noted that the bitcoin being sold in the auction is freely marketable by the purchaser, without resale restrictions that would be typically required after a sale of unregistered securities.
The auction comes on the heels of IRS guidance regarding the taxation of bitcoin transactions. It appears that the US government has finally accepted that there will be no stopping bitcoin sales anytime soon.
Most States Still on the Fence
As the Federal government has clarified its position, most states have reacted slowly to the bitcoin phenomena. Under Federal law, a company that is in the business of exchanging fiat currency for bitcoin is required to register as a Money Service Business (MSB). However it remains unclear in most states whether a state money transmitter license will also be required for such activity.
While New York is working on its BitLicense regime to license virtual currency exchange businesses, Maryland has indicated that virtual currency remains unregulated in its state. Montana and South Carolina do not register money transmitters at all. Other states have issued their own pronouncements about bitcoin but most states have remained silent on whether exchange businesses are required to be licensed as money transmitters, although applications are often nonetheless considered by regulators on a “case by case” basis.
About the Author – Daniel Friedberg of Riddell Williams PS is a business attorney specializing in payment matters, including bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bitcoin Security Pioneer BitGo Raises $12 Million in Series A Financing from Redpoint Ventures, Stratton Sclavos and Syndicate of Leading Bitcoin Investors
Former Verisign CEO and Other Online Finance Luminaries Join Forces With BitGo to Shape Future of Digital Money
BitGo™, the leading Bitcoin security platform, today announced it has raised $12 million in Series A financing led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Redpoint Ventures. Previous investors Bridgescale Partners, Jeff Skoll, Bill Lee, and Eric Hahn participated in the round. New investors include Radar Partners, Founders Fund, Barry Silbert’s Bitcoin Opportunity Corp., Liberty City Ventures, Crypto Currency Partners, Ashton Kutcher & Guy Oseary’s A-GRade Investments, and a number of top Bitcoin industry executives and angel investors. This financing makes BitGo one of the most well-funded companies in the Bitcoin ecosystem and positions the company for significant growth.
BitGo also announced that Jeff Brody, founding partner of Redpoint, and Stratton Sclavos of Radar Partners will join its board of directors. Mr. Sclavos was the CEO of Internet security firm Verisign from 1995 to 2007, and has served on the boards of public companies Intuit, Juniper Networks, and Salesforce.com.
“Bitcoin has opened a new frontier much like the advent of the commercial Internet in 1994,” said Stratton Sclavos, Partner at Radar Partners and former CEO of Verisign. “This new industry simultaneously promises endless possibilities while facing meaningful security threats. We believe that Bitcoin’s inherent advantages over existing financial services infrastructure, combined with BitGo’s best-in-class security platform, will accelerate the adoption of digital money as fundamentally as the Internet changed global communication and publishing.”
BitGo (www.bitgo.com) operates a Bitcoin security-as-a-service platform based on its patent-pending multi-signature technology. The company currently offers the world’s most secure online Bitcoin wallet for individuals, and BitGo Enterprise™ (bitgo.com/enterprise), the first multi-sig, multi-user solution for corporations and financial institutions to manage their Bitcoin holdings with enterprise-grade security. The company also enables exchanges, marketplaces, and e-commerce players to use its platform to facilitate secure, multi-party transactions that are secured with BitGo.
BitGo’s founding team is comprised of financial technology, online security, and digital currency veterans Will O’Brien, Mike Belshe and Ben Davenport.
Given a sufficient level of security, Bitcoin is a game-changing technology for global commerce and capital markets. With its decentralized, peer-to-peer ledger of transactions and clearing system, Bitcoin is poised to disrupt traditional payments and money transmission by reducing transaction fees and eliminating fraud and chargebacks. In the developing world, Bitcoin is being adopted as a viable alternative to legacy currencies for storing and transferring wealth.
“We are still in the early innings of the Bitcoin revolution,” said Will O’Brien, chief executive officer and co-founder of BitGo. “BitGo’s mission is to secure the world’s Bitcoin. By solving Bitcoin’s early security concerns for our customers and industry partners, BitGo is excited to help the Bitcoin industry grow with what we believe will be a speed and scale comparable to the Internet itself.”
ENTERPRISE-GRADE BITCOIN SECURITY WITH MULTI-SIG
BitGo offers a complete platform featuring enterprise-grade security, multi-signature wallets, transaction signing policies, private key generation and management, and robust authentication.
Prior to BitGo’s market entry in 2013, Bitcoin wallets were backed by one private key, creating the single point of attack that led to many of the well-publicized security breaches in recent years. BitGo developed a “2-of-3 key” multi-signature wallet in which three keys are issued and any two are required to sign a transaction – the digital equivalent of a bank safe deposit box.
The company has created a range of innovative security products that leverage and strengthen emerging industry standards, including BIP16 (P2SH) and BIP32 (hierarchical deterministic wallets).
ABOUT BITGO, INC.
Silicon Valley-based BitGo launched the first ever multi-signature Bitcoin wallet in 2013, and continues to create innovative security services on top of emerging industry standards. The company operates a security-as-a-service platform that powers the industry’s most secure, online Bitcoin wallet and enterprise solutions for corporate treasury and key management.
BitGo was founded by veterans in online security, digital currency, and financial technology. Investors and advisors include elite Silicon Valley venture capitalists and angels, and Bitcoin industry insiders who have backed successful companies like PayPal, Netscape, Red Hat, Proofpoint, Verisign, Juniper Networks, Yammer, and Tesla.
BitGo, BitGo Enterprise, Secured with BitGo, and BitGo Cold Key are the trademarks and service marks of BitGo, Inc.
To learn more about BitGo, visit: https://www.bitgo.com.
Follow BitGo on Twitter: twitter.com/BitGoInc.
Follow BitGo on Facebook: www.facebook.com/bitgoinc
Access BitGo press resources: bitgoinc.com/press
Visit BitGo’s blog: bitgoinc.com/blog
BREAKING NEWS – In a landmark move, Apple has updated its developer guidelines to officially allow apps that transact in Bitcoin and other virtual currencies.
According to the Developer Guidelines section 11.17:
Apps may facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions
This means that developers can now build iOS apps for Bitcoin wallets. And Coinbase, Blockchain, and Fancy can all return their apps to the store.
A Change of Heart by Apple Concerning Bitcoin
Until today, Apple has not been a supporter of Bitcoin apps, and in the past, the company has rejected any app that transmits bitcoins.
News apps like ZeroBlock and BlockStreet were approved for distribution in the App Store, but apps that traded Bitcoin like Coinbase, Blockchain and Fancy were rejected or removed from the store.
These actions led to an uproar by the Bitcoin community in February of this year.
Blockchain.info published a blog post called Blockchain’s Response to Apple, in which they said: “On Wednesday February 5th, Apple attempted to strike a devastating blow to the bitcoin ecosystem on iOS by removing “Blockchain”, the last remaining bitcoin wallet app, from the App Store.” The company criticized Apple for being anti-competitive and practicing censorship.
“By removing the blockchain app, the only bitcoin wallet application on the App store, Apple has eliminated competition using their monopolistic position in the market in a heavy handed manner,” wrote Blockchain.info.
There were dozens of articles that piled on this news, positioning this issue as a Bitcoin v. Apple deathmatch. One Bitcoiner even shot his iPhone with a rifle out of protest.
Blockchain was not the only one impacted by Apple’s former policies.
Coinbase, the popular US-based Bitcoin exchange, launched an iPhone app that was taken down by Apple after a few weeks.
Popular iPhone app Fancy removed Bitcoin payments due to Apple’s request.
It looks like this feud has come to rest. We are excited to see the innovation from Bitcoin entrepreneurs that will come to iOS.