More Rocket Fuel: Announcing Our Series B with Lakestar and GV

Dark blue rocket taking off with Blockchain's logo stacked.When Blockchain started out as an open source project, we set out to build tools that would make it easy for anyone to use digital currencies. We still pursue this goal everyday.

I’m extremely proud and humbled by the progress we’ve made – millions of active users around the world, exchange partnerships in 34 countries, billions in monthly consumer volume, and an API platform used by some of the biggest companies in our field.

Today, I’m excited to announce that we’ve raised a Series B of $40 million with Lakestar and GV (formerly Google Ventures) with additional participation from Nokota Management and Digital Currency Group. Our existing investors – Lightspeed Venture Partners, Mosaic Ventures, Prudence Holdings, Virgin, and Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Group) – also participated in the round. Their continued support is an honor.

Our Series B represents the most substantial investment in the fintech space since Brexit and is the largest Series B raised by any digital currency company to date. This brings our total capital raised to over $70 million and we’re thrilled to welcome some of the most well-respected investors in the world to the Blockchain family.

Our mission “to create an open, accessible, and fair financial future for billions across the globe, one piece of software at a time” is a lofty one. This capital moves us one step closer to delivering on that mission and will ensure we can take a very long-term view.

As the market leader, you can expect us to make big, bold bets in research and development as well as further our expansion efforts globally. You can also expect new products aimed at allowing anyone to transact, save, or hedge digital assets with greater speed, efficiency and control.

Innovating, disrupting, revolutionizing a century old industry takes time. We’ve made significant strides, but we’re just getting started. Thank you for joining us on the very first part of our journey to the moon – rest assured we have the rocket fuel to get there!

Sincerely,
Peter & the Blockchain Team

Our legacy and a new logo

Blockchain started as a geeky hacker project aimed at making bitcoin just a little more accessible by building an explorer. From those humble origins, the project grew into a passion for creating a better financial future and Blockchain, the world’s leading software platform for digital assets, was born.

Today, we run the largest block chain software platform in the world. We leverage our technology to build a radically better financial system. In doing so, our software has powered over 100M transactions and empowered users in 130 countries across the globe to transact quickly and without costly intermediaries. More recently, we added our 11 millionth wallet (and counting) and added Antony Jenkins to our board of directors.

We have been privileged to serve millions of people around the world. And, in recent months, we’ve been working to evolve our brand to better match the scope of our ambition and our growing user base.

Late last year, we launched an updated look and feel on blockchain.com, released V3 of our wallet, launched new mobile experiences, and updated our blog. Today, we’re excited to announce the next phase in the evolution of our brand: our new logo.

We arrived at this direction through visual explorations of the division of a fixed asset. With Bitcoin, there is a cap at 21 million and those bitcoins can be divided and subdivided to infinity. The block is a tiny ecosystem, and the pieces within grow, shrink and shift as the ownership of any given piece evolves. It is also a representation of how ‘many’ become ‘one’.

The specific divisions of the colors in this execution are also purposeful: they are based on measurements of the golden section.

The logo as a whole honors the heritage of our previous logos while becoming more simple, modern and optimized for the digital world we’re helping build. It brings us full circle to the very thing that attracted us to the Rubik’s cube, in the first place: all of the squares (entries in the chain) read together as a single unit (the ecosystem); the logo is a gestalt of its pieces. And the colors are built on our most recent logo.

Over the course of the coming weeks, you’ll see the new logo anywhere we’re out in public, like our web and social media sites; very soon you’ll see it in all of our products, as well.

We’re excited about the new logo, but more importantly about the role we’re playing in helping people and businesses throughout the world realize a more open, fair and accessible financial future, one piece of software at a time. Thank you for helping us make our vision a reality each and every day.

To the moon,
Peter

It’s here: we’re rolling out the ability to buy bitcoin from your Blockchain Wallet

Earlier today, we announced a partnership with Coinify that will allow our users in Europe to, for the first time ever, seamlessly and expediently fund their Blockchain wallets without compromising user security or control. This partnership will make our wallet infinitely more user friendly and, ultimately, more accessible for the mass market.

Read more “It’s here: we’re rolling out the ability to buy bitcoin from your Blockchain Wallet”

Security Update: Yesterday’s DNS Attack

Yesterday, Blockchain experienced an outage for several hours while under a DNS attack.

At approximately 5:42 AM EST, the attacker changed Blockchain.info’s DNS servers. Within minutes, our internal systems alerted our infrastructure team who immediately began to assess the attack.

Control over our DNS servers is highly restricted and goes beyond industry standard protections against configuration changes. We were able to access our administrative accounts with our registrar and regain control. Unfortunately, it became clear the attackers gained access to our accounts through breaching the systems of our DNS registrar.

In an abundance of caution, we shut down our entire platform until we investigated the full extent of the attack. After making offline high-level contact with our registrar, we quickly determined that our registrar’s systems were breached by a highly sophisticated attack against the registrar’s infrastructure and not Blockchain’s infrastructure. Our registrar was able to manually regain control and revert the DNS changes.

While we waited for the fix to propagate across the internet, we investigated the malicious site to which the attacker had redirected traffic. We determined that due to the attacker using a self-signed SSL certificate, users using modern browsers – which the wallet requires – were prevented from being exposed to the phishing site. Due to the quick response of our team, the attacker’s DNS changes were allowed only to propagate partially across the Internet. We were also able to locate the owners of the compromised machine being used by the attackers and have it shut down.

After a full check of our own systems and a complete propagation of the correct DNS servers, we brought our platform back online at 1:20 PM EST. To mitigate the attack vector at our registrar, we have implemented additional manual, offline controls.

Ultimately, any disruption in service is something we take seriously and we extend our sincere apologies. While we sometimes remain offline for longer than necessary, we do so out of an abundance of caution while we check to ensure all systems are fully protected and functional.

Thank you for your patience.

Peter Smith

CEO & Co-Founder, Blockchain

Announcing the Thunder Network Alpha Release

At Blockchain, we’re on a mission to create an open, accessible, and equitable financial future. Since our inception, we have focused on building products that make it easy for everyday people to use bitcoin to store and transfer value all over the world. We make Bitcoin usable and useful. We’ve been able to do that because we develop with a user-focused mandate.

A faster, cheaper, and more functional network would deliver real value to our users, so we were excited by the growth of research into payment channel technology on the bitcoin network and innovative uses of this technology. We were particularly interested in the idea of using smart contracts to build what are basically super-charged payments networks, as outlined in a white paper by the lightning.network team. Last year, we hired a talented engineer, Mats Jerratsch, who had been pioneering innovation in this vertical to work with our engineering team and lead research and development on a network based around these ideas.

Read more “Announcing the Thunder Network Alpha Release”

Transaction 0

Firing up the Thunder Network Rocket….

Today, we announced the release of the ThunderNetwork (click here to read) which has the ability to make live, nearly instant, and ultra-cheap transactions that settle back to the Bitcoin blockchain.

We’ve written about our R&D efforts before and you can read all about the details in our previous blog post. As a reminder, the ThunderNetwork is a way to send bitcoin “off-chain” to other parties in a trustless manner based on the lightning.network.

Yesterday afternoon, Mats and I made the very first payments using the Thunder network. Below is a quick tour of Thunder and a recap of what happened.

Read more “Transaction 0”

A Brief History of Bitcoin Forks

Co-written by Peter Smith and Kristov Atlas

Backgrounder: Bitcoin Network Upgrades

TL;DR Summary

  • Soft consensus forks render previously valid blocks invalid, and create security risks for non-upgrading nodes.
  • Hard consensus forks render previously invalid blocks valid, and make non-upgrading nodes incompatible.
  • Unplanned forks pose the greatest risk, and are generally caused by poorly understood software complexity or rushed changes.
  • Both soft and hard consensus forks can be used to make complex changes to bitcoin; soft forks merely require a lower amount of consensus.

Read more “A Brief History of Bitcoin Forks”

Announcing the New Blockchain Wallet!

The world’s most popular bitcoin wallet is now more secure and easier to use than ever. Starting today, we will begin the process of rolling out a major update to our flagship consumer product.

The New Blockchain Wallet

We’ve been focused on three things to make this the best wallet for you:

#1. A simplified wallet recovery and backup feature to keep users firmly in control of their funds
#2. A new security center to help users take the necessary steps to secure their wallet
#3. The friendliest and simplest user experience of any bitcoin wallet

What happens now?

As an existing user, you can choose the old version, or log into the new wallet at which point you can upgrade. Right now this is voluntary, but eventually everyone will need to switch. All your funds will be safe and sound when you choose to update, and you’ll get a lot of new features including:

  • Custom funds management
  • Dashboard with balance overview
  • Did You Know tips for new users
  • New Activity log
  • Improved transaction feed

For the bitcoin pros out there, our new wallet utilizes a hierarchical deterministic architecture (HD). This is a term used to describe the way a certain type of bitcoin wallet works. In an HD wallet, a single master wallet seed allows for a simplified recovery process. It also improves privacy by generating a new address for every payment request the user makes, all from the same original seed.

While our software does hundreds of thousands of transactions a week, we believe we’re just getting started on our mission. Our goal is to build the bitcoin wallet that people all over the world recommend to their friends and family. Secure, simple, and easy to use.

We will continue to launch additional features that make this product even better. And stay tuned – we’ll be featuring the wallet in future blog posts over the next few weeks!

A week in SE Asia with the Prime Minister and UKTI

Rolls Royce. Airbus. Lloyds of London…  Blockchain. Wait, what?

It started with an unusual email from a government official asking for a call.  Strange emails are more or less par for the course for the CEO of a bitcoin company, but a few minutes into the call, I realized something groundbreaking was happening.  For the first time, a bitcoin company was being invited on an official tour with the leader of a nation. Not just any leader, mind you, but the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, home to London – the seat of global financial power.

The official voice on the other end of the receiver was inviting me to join a delegation of executives from a who’s-who of top-tier UK companies (including Airbus, Rolls Royce, Lloyds of London, and Arup among others) traveling to Southeast Asia with the PM.

As announced by the Prime Ministers office, and covered by the press, the Prime Minister invited Blockchain as part of his commitment to ensure the UK remains a leading global fintech hub.

From July 26th to July 30th we visited Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia. I spoke to senior regulators, bank CEOs, telecommunications executives and other leaders about the future we are working towards as an industry – an open financial platform in which anyone can participate.

I came away with a few impressions:

The economy of Southeast Asia is growing rapidly, but the financial services that should support that growth are weak

Indonesia alone is projected to move from the world’s 16th largest economy to the 7th largest by 2030. Despite rapid economic growth and tens of millions of consumers entering a consumer class, only 20-30 million Indonesians out of 250 million have a credit or debit card. Of those, fully 70% are under 35 years old.

The overall outlook is remarkably similar throughout SE Asia and is characterized by rapidly growing economies that are going increasingly digital, with high smartphone penetration amongst predominantly under 35 populaces.

In broad terms, heavy financial infrastructure, i.e. large corporate finance, investment banking, and private equity funds are relatively well-developed in the region. Consumer and SME level access to stable, trusted digital financial tools capable of transferring value within the region is less advanced and is perhaps a key market opportunity for fintech companies in London.

Much of the world still knows very little about the Bitcoin Protocol

It is incredibly easy to become immersed in one’s own environment. In my world, it sometimes feels as if nearly everyone knows what bitcoin is, how it works, and that it will change the world.

We’ve come a long way in spreading the word over the last four years, but we are nowhere close to being done. Almost everyone I spoke to in SE Asia either had only the vaguest idea, or had barely heard of bitcoin. Interestingly, the few exceptions were regulators and bankers in Singapore.

State Dinners do not last long

If you are like me, you assume an official State Dinner would last several hours – especially if you saw the five to seven course menus. Wrong – the longest was just 5 blocks (52 minutes) and the shortest was just 3 blocks (37 minutes). High speed dining indeed.

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British PM David Cameron with Blockchain CEO Peter Smith (right)

The UK is serious about being the global leader in our space

The UK has long taken a pragmatic regulatory approach to bitcoin and fintech (as seen, for example, in thoughtfully allowing P2P lending framework to mature from within the industry itself).  In the current global regulatory environment, it isn’t easy to take this road less traveled, but the UK, led by David Cameron has done precisely that. The UK approach is to lead, to encourage fintech in Britain, and to carefully weigh the advantages, risks and potential policy implications related to the Bitcoin protocol.

It was an honor to speak with the Prime Minister about bitcoin and Blockchain’s leadership role – doubly so because it happened at such a critical moment in our industry. The convergence of fintech, bitcoin, and global opportunity were affirmed when Mr. Cameron even made reference to his understanding of the technology in official remarks.

Looking back, it was the quiet moments that mattered the most: speaking with cabinet members in a conference room, exchanging drafts with staff on a plane to Jakarta, and hearing the news (before it became news) from the members of the traveling press.  These were the invaluable insights that made the trip worthwhile.

Stats Box:
4 – Days
5 – Cities Visited
41 – Hours Flown
6 – Mentions of bitcoin by a PM

After all, who wants to sleep when you can talk bitcoin!?

-Peter Smith