Visa has invested millions of dollars in Anchorage, a startup that secures cryptocurrency holdings for institutional investors. The two companies are founding members of Facebook's high-profile cryptocurrency project Libra.
Anchorage raised $40 million in fresh funding. Visa and Blockchain Capital co-led the round. This is the second known investment Visa has made in a cryptocurrency startup, the first having been made four years ago in Chain, an enterprise blockchain firm acquired in September by Lightyear, a startup affiliated with the cryptocurrency Stellar. The company has raised a total of $57 million in funding to date from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, and SV Angel.
My colleague Robert Hackett reports:
Anchorage was little-known before June 18, when its logo appeared alongside boldfaced names such as Mastercard, PayPal, Uber, Spotify, and, notably, Visa, on a slide introducing the Libra Association. Facebook instigated the creation of the association, a Swiss nonprofit comprised of 28 organizations that plans to grow to 100 by next year, to support its ambitious push for a global cryptocurrency.
Terry Angelos, who leads Visa's efforts in financial tech, or fintech, said in a statement that Visa is interested in supporting "companies like Anchorage who are working to provide secure infrastructure to the growing ecosystem of digital assets." He said that Anchorage "is building the foundation to support an array of new financial services.”
Diogo Monica, Anchorage's co-founder and president, told Fortune that his team has been working with Facebook on designing the technical underpinnings of the Libra cryptocurrency "since Day One, since it was basically only two people at Facebook." Those two people were David Marcus, a Facebook executive who leads the Libra project, and Morgan Beller, a Libra co-creator who heads strategy at Colibra, a Facebook subsidiary focused on Libra, Monica said.
Anchorage's product offers an alternative to "cold storage," a safety measure investors commonly rely on for the secure storage of their cryptocurrency holdings. Cold storage custody, as it's called, typically involves stashing so-called private keys, the password-like strings of letters and numbers that grant ownership of cryptocurrency, in hard-to-reach, offline places, such as inside mountains or bank safety deposit boxes.
The reason this company is one to keep your eye on is that its reach extends outside of the crypto world. Its digital asset custody service could lure big-time commercial banks, endowments, pensions, and mutual funds into the depths of blockchain.
TAKING ON AMAZON: Bolt, an online checkout startup that publicly debuted in January of 2018, has raised $68 million in new funding. The new round is co-led by Activant Capital and Tribe Capital, and includes personal investments from current and former leaders at retailers including Allbirds, Bombas, and Jet.com. The investments bring Bolt’s total funding to $90 million.
Fortune’s David Z. Morris reports:
Bolt’s goals are about as grandiose as they get in the picks-and-shovels world of business services: the startup wants to provide a one-stop checkout software package for independent retailers, and in the process, give them a fighting chance against the behemoth known as Amazon.
According to Ryan Breslow, Bolt’s CEO and co-founder, Amazon has “spent hundreds of millions of dollars perfecting the flow” of the site’s buying experience. That faster checkout "flow" can encourage shoppers to spend more. In a 2017 study, for instance, the digital infrastructure firm Akamai found that websites that were just 1/10th of a second slower than competitors’ saw the conversion rate—the rate at which site visitors actually made a purchase—drop by 7%. Online retail is particularly brutal at the point of checkout, with as many as 80% of shoppers simply abandoning their carts before paying.
McKINSEY’S SECRETS: If the following headline doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will. Institutional Investor published a story titled, The Story McKinsey Didn’t Want Written. It’s a detailed account of McKinsey & Company’s internal hedge fund and its potential conflicts of interest. “It’s alarming they have a hedge fund,” says Matthew Stewart, a former consultant at a firm that was started by ex-McKinsey consultants. “They have a huge amount of inside information, which raises serious conflict issues at multiple levels,” Stewart says, adding that McKinsey’s power in the world of business and government “puts them in a kind of an oligarchic position.”
THE FASTEST, RICHEST TEXAN EVER: H. Ross Perot, the self-made Texas billionaire who rose from a childhood of Depression-era poverty and twice ran for president as a third-party candidate, died at age 89. Fortune was the first to publish a major profile of H. Ross Perot in 1986. It was titled: "The Fastest, Richest Texan Ever."
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Mesmer, the leader in Robotics Process Automation for Development (RPAD), is radically changing the way developers work. Mesmer’s AI-powered bots use patent-pending Deep Learning Automation (DLA™) to accelerate every function of customer experience testing. This means means crazy fast releases, better apps, and happier employees. Mesmer is headquartered in Palo Alto, California, and funded by Intel Capital and True Ventures.