Basis, a company founded by three Princeton graduates, just closed a major fundraising round, landing support from some of Silicon Valley's highest-profile investors. The startup intends to build a digital currency of the same name, which it says will be fit to replace money and maintain a stable, predictable value, unlike volatile crypto assets such as bitcoin, the world's largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. (See also: Pornhub Partnership Ups Verge Cryptocurrency Price.)
Bain Capital Ventures led the $133 million private placement in Basis, which marked the firm's first purchase of tokens ever. Other investors participating in the round include Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL) venture capital investment arm GV (formerly Google Ventures), Lightspeed Venture Partners, Foundational Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and Sky Capital. Billionaire hedge fund manager Stanley Druckermiller and former Federal Reserve governor Kevin Warsh also bought in.
Better Than Bitcoin?
The New Jersey-based cryptocurrency startup seeks to design a digital currency with a fixed value, tied to a measure such as the U.S. dollar or consumer price index (CPI). The company expects this differentiated approach to make its currency better suited for transactional purposes. Crypto bears have criticized the space for its massive price swings, indicating that such volatility makes digital currency ill-suited to replace traditional money any time in the near future, holding back cryptocurrency from mainstream markets.
At a price of $8,228 at 3:07 p.m. UTC, bitcoin (BTC) reflects a roughly 60% fall from all-time highs reached in December near $20,000 and a near 600% increase over the most recent 12 months. Investors have become accustomed to major price swings over the recent years, with several sharp crashes over the past five years shaving as much as 50% off the asset's value.
Druckermiller spoke in an interview with CNBC late last year in which he indicated that he did not own any bitcoin and distrusted the idea of using it as a medium of exchange due to its unpredictability. Warsh, one of the two likely contenders to lead the Fed after Janet Yellen's term ended last year, has also been outspoken regarding his bearishness on bitcoin. In a March 7 opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, he wrote that "a new generation of cryptocurrencies is on the horizon, some of which might possess more of the attributes of money, better satisfying bitcoin's founding purpose." (See also: Bitcoin ‘Fad’ May Survive a Crash: Robert Shiller.)