Category: cryptography

Ex-Plaid employees raise $30M for Stytch, an API-first passwordless authentication platform



There are far fewer annoying things than managing one’s passwords.

There are a bunch of companies out there to help you attempt to do that. And there’s also a number of companies that want to go a step further and eliminate the password completely.

One such company, Stytch, just raised $30 million in a Series A round of funding as it launches out of beta with its API-first passwordless authentication platform.

The round caught our attention for a couple of reasons.

For one, this is the same startup that just months earlier announced it had raised a $6.25 million seed round led by Benchmark with participation from Index Ventures and a number of angels including Plaid co-founder William Hockey. That round was speculated to have valued the new company at a staggering $200 million (although that was never confirmed), and was actually raised last summer around the time of Stytch’s founding, but only announced this year. Other angels that have backed the company include Figma co-founder and CEO Dylan Field, Very Good Security co-founder Mahmoud Abdelkader, startup advisor Elad Gil and early Stripe employee and Cocoon co-founder Amber Feng.

Also notable about this round is that Stytch was founded by two former Plaid employees, Reed McGinley-Stempel (CEO) and Julianna Lamb (CTO), who built user authentication features that “millions” use to connect their bank accounts to apps like Venmo, Coinbase and Robinhood. The company was founded on the premise that passwords are no longer secure, and make companies easy targets (Read more...)

Swiss Post acquires e2e encrypted cloud services provider, Tresorit



Swiss Post, the former state-owned mail delivery firm which became a private limited company in 2013, diversifying into logistics, finance, transport and more (including dabbling in drone delivery) while retaining its role as Switzerland’s national postal service, has acquired a majority stake in Swiss-Hungarian startup Tresorit, an early European pioneer in end-to-end-encrypted cloud services.

Terms of the acquisition are not being disclosed. But Swiss Post’s income has been falling in recent years, as (snailmail) letter volumes continue to decline. And a 2019 missive warned its business needed to find new sources of income.

Tresorit, meanwhile, last raised back in 2018 — when it announced an €11.5M Series B round, with investors including 3TS Capital Partners and PortfoLion. Other backers of the startup include business angels and serial entrepreneurs like Márton Szőke, Balázs Fejes and Andreas Kemi. According to Crunchbase Tresorit had raised less than $18M over its decade+ run.

It looks like a measure of the rising store being put on data security that a veteran ‘household’ brand like Swiss Post sees strategic value in extending its suite of digital services with the help of a trusted startup in the e2e encryption space.

‘Zero access’ encryption was still pretty niche back when Tresorit got going over a decade ago but it’s essentially become the gold standard for trusted information security, with a variety of players now offering e2e encrypted services — to businesses and consumers.

Announcing (Read more...)

BlockFi lands a $350M Series D at a $3B valuation for its fast-growing crypto-lending platform



If there were any doubt about a cryptocurrency boom, we need look no further than at the explosion of growth of certain companies in the space.

One such company is BlockFi, which today announced it has closed on a massive $350 million Series D funding that values it at $3 billion. While this news in and of itself is certainly attention-getting, it’s even more impressive when you consider the startup just raised a $50 million Series C last August at a $450 million valuation. The latest financing brings its total equity raised since inception to about $450 million, with the company raising $100 million across its seed and Series C rounds.

Zac Prince — who comes from a background in consumer lending —  founded BlockFi with Flori Marquez in 2017. The Jersey City, New Jersey-based startup raised $1.6 million in a seed round of funding that closed in 2018 and was led by ConsenSys Ventures and included participation from SoFi.  

Prince describes BlockFi as a financial services company for crypto market investors that offers a retail and institutional-facing suite of products. On the retail side of its platform, people can use its mobile app to earn a yield on their crypto holdings (6% on Bitcoin, 8.6% on stablecoins), buy and sell crypto and get low-cost loans secured by the value of their crypto portfolio “so they can get liquidity without selling,” he said. Specifically, clients can buy and sell digital assets (from Bitcoin, Ethereum and Link to Litecoin, PaxG (Read more...)