Over the course of 2015, 21 Inc went from a mystery startup with no public business plan to one of the industry’s most exciting and often debated companies.
With $116m raised from investors, it’s safe to say that 21 Inc had high exceptions for its first product, the 21 Bitcoin Computer, which it released in September 2015 to wildly varying reviews.
Some developers were dismayed that a Linux-based device based on a Raspberry Pi could be priced so high when it would never mine enough bitcoin to pay for itself. Others argued that the 21 Bitcoin Computer wasn’t a conventional bitcoin mining product, but rather a platform that would unlock new use cases for the technology.
In a world rapidly moving towards an Internet of Things, 21’s big idea is to one day embed more refined versions of its chips into everyday consumer devices.
Writing in a blog post, CEO Balaji Srinivasan spoke about how 21’s technology could one day be used for device authentication, to enable micropayments or even subsidise the distribution of consumer smartphones to the developing world.
He further revealed that 21’s vision was not to “build a chip”, but create a “full technology stack around the chip” that