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May 11, 2015

$116m start-up wants to put Bitcoin miner into your toaster

21 Inc will collect three-quarters of revenues, so is it worth it?


A Bitcoin start-up from San Franciscom, funded to the tune of $116m (£75m), is hoping to put a Bitcoin miner into your toaster as it plans to promote the digital currency.

21 Inc, which has raised record investment for the cryptocurrency sector, intends to insert ASIC chips into everyday devices such as routers, games consoles, battery chargers, set-top boxes and toasters with the capacity for mining new bitcoins – in a sense a licence to print money.

In a bold move the company will offer such devices for free, claiming three-quarters of the revenues generated with the rest left to the owner.

This has led some to question whether the cost of electricity will offset the money earnt through bitcoin mining, as well as whether consumers will think it worthwhile constantly upgrading devices to improve efficiency for such marginal gains.

In spite of this, the outlook seems good for 21, which mustered support from venture capitalists Andressen Horowitz, semiconductor firm Qualcomm, PayPal founder Peter Thiel and Dropbox chief executive Drew Houston during its funding round in March.

Up until now the company has been secretive about its plans, with chief executive Matthew Pauker telling the Wall Street Journal of "several interesting developments over the next weeks and months".

The company is also rumoured to be seeking partnerships with Cisco, Facebook and IBM, which would add to an impressive collection of associates.

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