That figure is apparently the largest ever sum for a digital currency start-up, The Wall Street Journal reported, explaining that the company "isn't yet publicizing ... the precise nature of its operations."
The business will involve software and hardware designed "to drive mainstream adoption of bitcoin," 21 co-founder and Chief Executive Matthew Pauker told the Journal.
Major investors in the company include Andreessen Horowitz, Chinese private equity firm Yuan Capital and Qualcomm's venture-capital unit, according to the Journal. The publication quotes Pauker as hinting that the chipmaker's strategic stake could lead to developing consumer products that use so-called blockchain technology.
That tech is the underpinning of the bitcoin cryptocurrency system, and acts as an unchangeable universal record system (that has obvious applications for financial transactions, but could also prove a key backbone for a number of future uses).
One such application could be in the often-foretold "Internet of Things." This is the idea that, in the future, our daily lives will interact with a "network of billions of intelligent devices," according to IBM.
In fact, IBM released an investigation into this concept, concluding that "the 'blockchain' offers a very elegant solution" for many of the logistical issues surrounding the Internet of Things.
Although the company's exact goals are as-yet unknown, 21 co-founder Balaji Srinivasan (who is also a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz) once gave a talk about breaking free from the rule of governments and old institutions by building "a world run by software." (Originally pointed out by Reddit user Noosterdam.)
Correction: The headline was updated to reflect that 21 Inc. has raised $116 million.