Linked-In, Sun Microsystems Founders Lead Big Bet On Bitcoin Innovation

Billionaire entrepreneurs who helped lead LinkedIn Corp. LNKD -4.54%, Sun Microsystems Inc., Google Inc. GOOGL -1.56% and Yahoo Inc. YHOO 1.20% are among a group of investors who’ve contributed $21 million to an unorthodox bitcoinproject that has no clear plan for turning a profit. Their bet: that the project’s A-list of cryptography experts and bitcoin coders will unleash a new wave of Internet disruption that decentralizes the entire economy.
The company, known as Blockstream, aims to enhance bitcoin’s ‘blockchain’ – the distributed, public ledger that is the defining technological feature – and turn it into a universal platform for multiple new applications that go far beyond the digital-currency payments for whichbitcoin is best known. The co-founders hope to turbo-charge the development of so-called Bitcoin 2.0 applications, which will allow people to engage in ‘trustless’ transactions without having to pay fees to middlemen such as trustees, registrars and escrow managers.
The decentralized blockchain is ‘extremely difficult to corrupt’ and so has the potential to be ‘an efficient platform for trading pretty much anything of value,’ said Reid Hoffman, a co-founder of LinkedIn who was one of three lead investors in the funding round. Blockstream, he said, is ‘developing the bitcoin ecosystem’ to facilitate these prospects.

This post was published at Wall Street Journal on Nov 17, 2014.

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