Feb 18, 2022 - Economy

Scoop: Crypto startup Helium raises $200 million

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The existential question of crypto "utility" continues to roil the tech community, pitting some Web 2.0 icons against their web3 cousins. Enter into the buzz a recent New York Times feature about Helium, a crypto company whose business is centered on a real-world, non-financial application.

Driving the news: Helium recently raised $200 million in Series D funding at a $1.2 billion valuation, Axios has learned.

  • Tiger Global and FTX Ventures are among the new investors. Existing backers include Khosla Ventures, GV, Multicoin Capital, Munich Re Ventures and FirstMark Capital.
  • The company previously raised around $110 million in VC funding, per PitchBook, plus $111 million last summer via a token sale led by Andreessen Horowitz.
  • Skybridge Capital, the investment firm founded by Anthony Scaramucci, is in market with an SPV designed to buy both Helium equity (at a $1.27b valuation) and tokens. It's unclear if the seller would be Helium itself of a third party.

What it does: Helium is a decentralized network of over half a million hotspots that provides bandwidth for, and collects data from, nearby internet-of-things devices. Hotspot owners receive Helium tokens, called HNT, for their efforts. The more a hotspot is used, the more HNT an owner gets.

  • HNT's current market cap is $2.9 billion, although it's not yet traded on many of the most popular crypto exchanges.
  • Helium, which pivoted to a decentralized model years after its 2013 founding, declined to comment for this story.

The bottom line: There's way too much money going into crypto and web3 companies for the primary utility to be speculative trading. Helium and its ilk could be the off ramp to sustainability.

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