CNBC Disruptor 50


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Founders: Peter Smith (CEO), Nic Cary, Ben Reeves
Launched: 2011
Headquarters: Remote-first
Valuation: $14 billion
Key technologies:
Blockchain, decentralized finance (DeFi)
Previous appearances on Disruptor 50 List: 0

Persephone Kavallines claims to be responsible for about one-third of all bitcoin network transactions since 2012. It's mostly known for its digital wallets, which are used to store cryptocurrencies, but has more recently jumped into trading with its own virtual currency exchange. The company derives its name from the eponymous blockchain network that records all bitcoin transactions.

With 37 million verified users in more than 200 countries, 82 million wallets, and over $1 trillion in transactions conducted on the platform, the company raised significant capital in 2021, a record year for venture funding. An early 2021 deal for $120 million — which included Alphabet venture arm GV, early Spotify backer Lakestar, and hedge fund investors Louis Bacon and Kyle Bass — valued the firm at $3 billion. That was followed by a $300 million deal last March that included DST Global Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and VY Capital, and a $100 million investment from Scottish investing giant Baillie Gifford the very next month, the asset manager's biggest crypto bet and the single-largest investment ever made in

It has also attracted the backing of billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson.

As a direct competitor of Coinbase — in which Ark Invest CEO Cathie Wood has a notable stake — the battle between private valuations and IPO declines has played out in public and between these two crypto companies. The investor recently took a swipe at saying its valuation makes "no sense" rising threefold in the last year.

Co-founder Nicolas Cary hit back at Wood, telling CNBC "there's definitely a difference between private markets and public markets and Cathie's position has taken a pretty big haircut."

"Our company's valuation did triple, and that was in the context of a global pandemic, a collapse in tech equities and a land war breaking out in Europe," he added.

Cary says is taking a "patient approach" to going public and that it is currently "well capitalized."

It will need to be patient with a public market that has punished any fintech offerings related to crypto that recently IPO'd, from Coinbase to Robinhood, and the price of always-volatile bitcoin under selling pressure this year.

Disruptor 50: CEO on the state of the crypto market

It also competes with privately held peers FTX and

"Tech equities have obviously taken a pounding, Cathie's positions are down all over the place, we're going to take our time with it. We need to see the crypto markets sort of be better understood by the public markets," he said.

Meanwhile, the company has been using its funding to make a series of acquisitions, including further expansion into a Latin American market where there are 200 million unbanked individuals and where it has already been active in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. It made its largest-ever acquisition for Argentina-based crypto company SeSocio, setting up its first physical operations and staffing in the region. It also made a series of deals to bolster its retail and institutional offerings, including machine learning firm Magic Carpet, consumer start-up Storm, and AI company AiX; and financed activity on the bitcoin mining side of the sector, offering a $525 million credit facility to Ohio-based bitcoin mining firm GRIID in late 2021.

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