Silicon Valley is backing a new cryptocurrency from OpenAI and Y Combinator alum Sam Altman

June 30, 2021, 4:47 PM UTC

Even in the Wild West crypto world, Sam Altman’s Worldcoin stands out from the pack.

The former CEO of startup incubator Y Combinator is reportedly working on a new cryptocurrency that will be distributed to anyone and everyone on earth—once they agree to scan their eyes (specifically their irises). And Silicon Valley is lining up fast behind him.

Worldcoin has already raised $25 million from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Coinbase Global’s venture arm, and Day One Ventures, according to Bloomberg. Altman was the first investor. Technically, Altman is one of three founders of Worldcoin, but he has no day-to-day operational role and mainly serves as an adviser. He continues to lead OpenAI as its CEO and cofounder.

Altman’s Silicon Valley roots certainly help open doors to venture capital firms for fundraising, but existing investors have so far declined to comment on the company.

The idea behind Worldcoin is based on the concepts of universal basic income and global wealth redistribution. And one key to that, Altman and cofounder Alexander Blania believe, is getting cryptocurrency to as many people as possible.

The company plans to use a gadget about the size of a basketball to scan people’s irises, which could ensure against fraud but also carries substantial privacy implications, despite the company’s promise that the image will not be stored. Altman acknowledged concerns in a tongue-in-cheek tweet.

Altman’s track record both at Y Combinator, where he was a kingmaker of the tech world until his departure in 2019, and as an investor is impressive enough that when he throws his weight behind something, other venture capitalists take notice. He was an angel investor in several notable tech giants, including Reddit, Airbnb, Pinterest, and Instacart.

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