Early history and secrecy
21 was founded in 2013 as 21e6, with the name being a reference to the controlled supply cap of the bitcoin economy. In November, it was the subject of intense speculation after revealing $5 million in venture capital from a regulatory filing. Co-founder Balaji Srinivasan stated that the startup's secrecy was "solely for pragmatic reasons – we didn’t have anything to say to the world," and they would not reveal their plans until May 2015.
By March 2015, 21 raised over $100 million in venture capital from numerous investors including Qualcomm Inc., RRE Ventures, Yuan Capital, Cisco, Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Data Collective, PayPal co-founders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, eBay Inc. co-founder Jeff Skoll, Dropbox Inc. CEO Drew Houston, Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Zynga Inc. co-founder Mark Pincus, and former ARM Holdings PLC CSO Mark Templeton.
Between 2013 and 2018 the company's main focus was on mining operations. In April 2018, co-founder Balaji Srinivasan, who became the CEO of a company in May 2015, announced that the company gradually reduced its mining operations and focused on building a new software to handle micropayments: the paid email and tasks product.
- Casey, Michael (10 March 2015). "Secretive Bitcoin Startup 21 Reveals Record Funds, Hints at Mass Consumer Play". Wall Street Journal. http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/03/10/secretive-bitcoin-startup-21-reveals-record-funds-hints-at-mass-consumer-play/. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
- news.earn.com (31 October 2017). "21.co is now Earn.com". https://news.earn.com/21-co-is-now-earn-com-3e37e50c444f.
- Russell, Jon (16 April 2018). "Coinbase buys Earn.com and makes CEO Balaji Srinivasan its first CTO". https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/16/coinbase-buys-earn-com-and-makes-ceo-balaji-srinivasan-its-first-cto/.
- Schleifer, Theodore (16 April 2018). "Coinbase is buying Earn.com for about $100 million in a deal that is mostly about one key hire". https://www.vox.com/2018/4/16/17242796/coinbase-acquisition-earn-balaji-srinivasan.
- Casey, Michael (18 May 2015). "Bitcoin Startup 21 Unveils Product Plan: Embeddable Chips for Smartphones". Wall Street Journal. http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/05/18/bitcoin-startup-21-unveils-product-plan-embeddable-mining-chips/. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- 21.co investors tweet
- Srinivasan, Balaji (16 April 2018). "The Turnaround". https://medium.com/@balajis/the-turnaround-2d145589d814.
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