Bitcoin startup 21 Inc. has revealed its plans to create a mining chip called a BitShare that would be embeddable into Internet-connected devices to continuously mine bitcoins.
Balaji Srinivasan, a partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and newly appointed CEO of 21, introduced the concept in a Medium blog post on May 18. He framed the news around the companys focus on Bitcoin as a protocol one that offers a new approach to micropayments and can help drive the era of the Internet of Things and less on its value as a financial instrument.
"Bitcoin generated by embedded mining is more convenientand hence more valuablethan bitcoin bought at market price and manually moved over to the site of utility," Srinivasan said in the post.
The BitShare would allow device owners to produce continuous streams of bitcoin that can be applied to routine micropayments and device authentication applications.
Other use cases Srinivasan touted are Silicon as a Service, devices that can pay for associated services, devices that can pay for other channel partners and bitcoin-subsidized devices for the developing world.
In March, the enigmatic 21 Inc. announced it had raised $116 million in funding from venture capital heavyweights like Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures and RRE Ventures, but had been largely secretive about its business concept until recently.
Srinivasan announced in his post the addition of Ben Horowitz, founding partner of Andreessen Horowitz, to 21's board and Larry Summers, the former U.S. Treasury secretary, as an advisor. Cisco and former ARM CSO Mark Templeton are also now invested in 21.