VC Firm Block26 Makes First Bitcoin Bet on Airbitz Wallet

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Los Angeles-based venture capital firm Block26 has completed its first investment, contributing $450,000 to the ongoing seed round for bitcoin wallet provider Airbitz. Launched in June, Block26 has indicated it plans to focus specifically on blockchain and digital currency ventures, contributing to seed to later-stage rounds. Calling the funding the company’s “first big announcement”, Block26 principal Ni’coel Stark indicated that Airbitz is representative of the kind of companies in which her new venture firm is looking to invest. Stark told CoinDesk: “We’re really looking for nuances in the technology. Airbitz is an amazing wallet, it solves problems for consumers, but it’s so much more than that. We see opportunities beyond the wallet, the ability that they have to go into security, their contributions to the Internet of Things, altogether they really make them fascinating.” She went on to call Airbitz “underrated” compared to its competition due to its team’s ability to contribute to areas of the technology beyond simply creating quality mobile bitcoin wallets. “Block26 is attracted to what’s under the surface,” she added. Going forward, Stark indicated that Block26 intends to “innovate along with the space”, and that it plans to focus on a smaller selection of high-quality startups. …

Bitcoin API Startup Gem Raises Funding Total to $3.3 Million

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Californian bitcoin API developer Gem has announced an additional $1.3m in funding, raising its total to $3.3m. The round was led by KEC Ventures, with additional contributions from First Round Capital, RRE Ventures– also an investor in 21 Inc and Abra – and early Facebook investor Robert Wolfson, among others. Gem closed its previous round in September last year after receiving funds from Mesa Ventures, Idealab, James Joaquin and Brock Pierce’s investment firm, Crypto Currency Partners. A spokesperson for the platform said the newly acquired funds would be used to accelerate feature development and scale Gem’s services for developers worldwide. Multi-sig wallet  Gem’s funding coincides with the launch of its multi-signature wallet API, which is now publicly available following a series of improvements. Approximately 40% of people using Gem’s API are from outside the United States – dispersed throughout Europe, Asia and South America. The new API aims to ease integration for this worldwide user base, while providing added security measures to protect bitcoin wallets and keys. Ken Miller, COO at Gem, said the security improvements had taken “massive amounts of time and energy to bring to the market”. However, he added: “It just was not an area we were willing to compromise.” The system now uses Hardware Security …