What's Really Happening in the World of Bitcoin Investment

In response last week’s post on The Fastest Growing Areas of Startup Investment in 2015, in which Bitcoin topped the list, I received many questions about the underlying dynamics of this startup segment. Which regions? Which stages? How much is going into Bitcoin companies. Using Crunchbase data, I analyzed BTC investment patterns over the past 4 years.

The chart above shows that Bitcoin investment started in earnest in 2013. In 2014, total investment spiked to more than $3.5B, and through June 2015 Bitcoin startup have raised more than $4B. This data implies 2015 should be the best year ever for Bitcoin investment.

As for stage of investment, I’ve decided that Series A and B are too vague to be meaningful to describe the stages of companies when they raise capital. Instead, I created segments of investment based on round size: < $5M, < $30M and so on. Early stage Bitcoin investment will likely have peaked in 2014, which saw more than 200 sub-$5M investment rounds and about 200 sub-$30M investment rounds. While sub-$5M investment rounds have fallen by 55%, sub-$30M rounds have fallen by 87%.

Megarounds have taken their place. Larger than $30M rounds now account for 73% of dollars invested in BTC companies. As the early wave of Bitcoin companies have matured, the early winners are benefitting from a vibrant late stage investment market. In the meantime, it seems, early stage investors are waiting to see how those companies fare.

There are many different points of view on the future of Bitcoin. In countries like Argentina, Bitcoin has become a vital part of the daily economy. In the US, BTC has relatively small adoption. Some point to the innovation of the blockchain and the impact this distributed, secure transactional technology will bring to contracts. But it’s still early.

I believe that Bitcoin will be a transformational technology. But it will take some time for the innovation to be brought to market in a way that people understand and value.

At least for now though, the early winners of the Bitcoin startup sector are finding later stage capital in droves, while the early stage companies face a leaner environment than 2014.

Published 2015-07-29 in


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