Bitcoin platform Circle gets $50M -- and global credibility -- from Goldman Sachs and China's IDG Capital
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Boston-based Bitcoin platform Circle has added $50 million in new funding — valuing the company at $200 million.
The company's latest investment was led by Goldman Sachs and Chinese investor IDG Capital Partners. Previous investors Accel Partners*, Breyer Capital, General Catalyst Partners, and Digital Currency Group also took part in the round.
The involvement of the Wall Street entrenched Goldman and IDG -- an investment titan in China that backed Baidu and Tencent -- reflects the growing mainstream acceptance of Bitcoin in America and abroad. I'm not sure which firm will have a bigger impact, but both could play significant roles in advancing the viability of Bitcoin and the growth of Circle moving forward.
With Goldman Sachs' investment, Circle — and by proxy Bitcoin — gets a huge uplift in visibility outside of the smaller venture capital community. While General Catalyst and Accel carry weight in the world of entrepreneurs and fast-growth startups, the approval of a multinational investment bank like Goldman, even with all its baggage, is a signal of Bitcoin's arrival in the consciousness of the financial world at-large.
It's also impressive to get backing from IDG, in another sign that Circle's international aspirations separate it from other purveyors of Bitcoin, as Michael Carney pointed out last year. As great as it is to have support from a Wall Street giant such as Goldman Sachs, the prospects of unleashing what is fast becoming one of the most legit Bitcoin services platforms on the massive, tech-hungry emerging market that is China is a potential game changer for both Circle and Bitcoin as a mainstream cryptocurrency.
Bringing aboard Goldman Sachs and IDG also coincides with a shift in the services that Circle, which has been primarily known as an entry way into Bitcoin acquisition and transfer, will offer going forward. Circle users will now be able to store and transfer dollars through the service, a product offering similar to those of Venmo and Stripe, with the obvious exception that the fiat currency (cash dollars) can also be easily transferred to Bitcoin. As part of the company's willingness to be transparent about many of its operations and security, it was revealed that dollars stored on Circle will be held by a regulated banking entity, in this case the FDIC-insured Silicon Valley Bank.
Another benefit of IDG's investment is that it will can help make inroads in China as Circle rolls out more offerings that are part of its current vision, like bringing similar money transfer services to other fiat currencies including the yuan, euros, yen, etc.
Becoming the brand name of trusted Bitcoin services is one thing, which Circle has taken a major step towards today with the backing of Goldman Sachs. Becoming the world's Bitcoin brand and Internet money exchange is a far more lofty ambition, and one that Circle seems to be ambitiously trying to achieve.
*Disclosure: Circle investor Accel Partners is also an investor in Pando