A startup that claims to have built the Bitcoin world's version of the proverbial better mousetrap has added three high-profile Bitcoin entrepreneurs to its team, seeking their help with business strategy, programming and other aspects of the business.
Toronto-based KryptoKit announced Sunday that Erik Voorhees, Roger Ver and Vitalik Buterin are joining the company in ownership roles, though it declined to specify their equity shares. All three are prominent in digital currency circles. Buterin, for example, co-founded Bitcoin Magazine, and is also involved in various Bitcoin software projects.
"Vitalik rounds out what is becoming a very diverse and capable team," Steve Dakh, one of KryptoKit's co-founders, said in a statement. "As one of the top developers in Bitcoin, he will be a huge asset as we continue to develop and perfect our backend and programming."
Ver and Voorhees will serve as advisors on business strategy and communications. Although Voorhees expects his time commitment to be limited, he says he wanted to get involved after KryptoKit co-founder Anthony Di Iorio showed him a prototype of the wallet service several weeks ago. "He's an amazing programmer who built this thing really quickly, just one of those genius guys," he says of Di Iorio.
Voorhees is a bonafide Bitcoin millionaire. Last July, he sold his Bitcoin gambling site, SatoshiDice, for 126,315 bitcoins, a sum then worth $12.4 million and worth some $115.8 million on Coinbase, or $129.2 million on Mt. Gox, as of 2 p.m. EST on Monday. Buterin wrote the story for his magazine.
KryptoKit debuted its wallet service at the Inside Bitcoins conference in Las Vegas last month. The wallet is a plug-in for Google Chrome which, once installed, runs constantly. There is no need to log in or out. One of KryptoKit's unique features is that it captures Bitcoin addresses on a web page and makes them available in the plug-in as payment destinations. That way, buying things online with Bitcoin is as simple as pointing and clicking.
This feature is especially convenient when making several small transactions, Voorhees says. In a stroke of good timing, gaming company Zynga announced on Saturday that it is now testing out Bitcoin as a payment option for virtual-good purchases in its "Ville" games -- FarmVille and FarmVille 2, CityVille, CastleVille and others. Zynga, with a market capitalization of $3.25 billion, is now the first major gaming company to accept payments in Bitcoin.
The price of Bitcoin spiked on the news, reaching $917 on Coinbase by midday Monday EST.
Because many Bitcoin users are concerned with security and privacy, KryptoKit also offers an encrypted chat function and backup service for each user's private key. That way, if you lose your computer, you haven't lost your money.
KryptoKit helps move Bitcoin "out of the difficult-to-use camp and makes it better for normal people," Voorhees says.
KryptoKit's new hires not only represent a vote of confidence in the startup's growth potential but also reflect the cameraderie that exists among Bitcoin pioneers. For instance, Buterin is also involved in what would seem to be a competing in-browser Bitcoin wallet, Dark Wallet, which is being developed by Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed, among others.
But Voorhees, who moved to Panama and launched his startup Coinapult after working as the director of marketing for BitInstant in New York, says the Bitcoin ecosystem makes cooperation more attractive than competition.
"It's the first decentralized, open-source company or open-source organization," he says. "There's no one leading Bitcoin, but it ties us all together, and as Bitcoin benefits, we all do."