San Diego Newcomer Airbitz Raises $450K for Bitcoin Technology

Airbitz, a downtown San Diego startup with a vision of bringing digital currency to the masses, said it recently raised $450,000 of what is expected to be an initial seed round of more than $1.2 million.

In presentations over the past year, Airbitz co-founder and CEO Paul Puey has said the company’s vision is “to bring Bitcoin to the next billion users” through a decentralized, Web-based platform that emphasizes customer ease of use and ease of security. The company’s lead product is a mobile app that operates as a digital wallet for bitcoins.

Puey, a former Nvidia senior engineer and small business operator, says Airbitz now has nine employees, including co-founder and CTO Tim Horton, co-founder and chief architect William Swanson, co-founder and design vice president Damian Cutillo, and COO Rich “Henri” Chan.

According to Puey, Airbitz has combined existing technologies in a new way, using encryption, backup, two-factor authentication, two-device synchronization, and password recovery to make the Airbitz network secure at the device level.

airBitz logoAirbitz says its software enables users to control their bitcoins and easily transfer bitcoins between accounts. According to the company, the security measures prevent third parties from accessing user funds or data in the network or on a device. Airbitz itself has no access to customer funds or data.

The company’s bitcoin wallet, which automatically encrypts, secures and backs up user data, became available last fall on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Block26, a recently formed Bitcoin-focused venture fund in Los Angeles, said its $450,000 investment in Airbitz marks its first investment. In a statement, Block26 co-founder and managing principal Ni’coel Stark says Airbitz is far more than a digital wallet. The security technology can be adapted for use in other sectors, she said.

As an example, Puey said the company’s security technology could be adapted for use with QuickBooks, Intuit’s accounting software used mostly in small to medium businesses, and would make it easier to synch data across multiple desktop computers and mobile devices.

Founded in early 2014, Airbitz also was selected to spend 10 weeks in the Plug and Play accelerator program held earlier this year in Sunnyvale, CA. In addition to workshops, mentorships, and networking, Airbitz qualified to get as much as $25,000 from Plug and Play Ventures in the form of a loan that can be converted into Airbitz stock.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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