Why choose between an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) and venture capital when it’s possible to have both? That’s the move taken by OB1, the company behind OpenBazaar. OB1 picked up $5 million in venture capital from a couple of firms, but will still launch its ICO at some point this year.
The capital was raised during the Series A fund round that saw both Chinese and Canadian venture capital (VC) firms getting onboard the new platform. Bitmain, a mining company out of China, and Canada’s OMERS Ventures have put their money behind the new decentralized online marketplace. The pair is joined by investors Andreessen Horowitz and William Mougayar, who are already committed to the project.
OpenBazaar is the equivalent of a decentralized eBay platform for cryptocurrency users. The peer-to-peer marketplace allows for commerce of goods and services without a middleman. OpenBazaar doesn’t charge any fees for using the service. At the helm of OB1 is Brian Hoffman, who described OpenBazaar as not a business, but a protocol behind the marketplace with the users determining how the marketplace is utilized.
“We don’t have servers in some data center collecting all this data and controlling our users. It’s just a protocol. It’s just a bunch of computers talking to each other, so what happens on that network is up to the whim of the users,” Hoffman said. OB1 initially launched OpenBazaar in 2014 in an effort to ease congestion on the legacy Bitcoin (BTC) network, and has been gathering steam—and backers—ever since.
OB1 still plans on offering its ICO this year, but no specific date has been set. The ICO announcement came during Token Summit II held in San Francisco in December of 2017, when Hoffman revealed that the rise in the platform’s popularity gave way to the need to offer an alternative to BTC.