An automated business run on computer code, with no human input beyond its anonymous backers, has raised the equivalent of $120 million in digital currency.
The financial support for the vehicle, called The DAO, makes it the most advanced embodiment yet of an idea that has long captivated idealists: automatic companies that operate without managers or boards of directors, making them the purest form of shareholder governance.
The DAO — an acronym of decentralised autonomous organisation, the name given to such entities — has been set up to invest in other businesses, making it a form of investor-directed venture capital fund.
"There are no humans controlling it, it's just the code," said Simon Jentzsch, a German software developer who was one the people behind the idea. "There is no one who will take money for favouring one or other contract. You will have the wisdom of the crowds."
As of Monday, The DAO had raised 10.7m units of a digital currency called Eth, said to be worth $120 million. Its investors will vote on what to do with the money after fundraising ends on May 28, after choosing between proposals submitted to its website.