Blockstream

Blockstream is one of the most-well funded Bitcoin companies, with $76 million in venture capital thanks to its latest $55 million funding round.

Sidechains

Blockstream has yet to fully unveil or explain all of its company’s products. It’s website, however, explains that “Block­stream’s core area of in­no­va­tion is sidechains, a tech­nol­ogy fo­cused on im­prov­ing on the blockchain, the most pow­er­ful pub­lic util­ity for dis­trib­uted trust sys­tems.”

It appears that Blockstream is taking a different approach to blockchains. Instead of creating separate private blockchains or altcoins, Blockstream will create sidechains that allow for somewhat private blockchains that are built on top of Bitcoin.

According to its websites, sidechains offer many advantages over blockchains separate from Bitcoin because they avoid “liq­uid­ity short­ages, mar­ket fluc­tu­a­tions, frag­men­ta­tion, se­cu­rity breaches and out­right fraud as­so­ci­ated with al­ter­na­tive crypto-cur­ren­cies.”

Liquid

On October 12, 2015, Blockstream announced the release of its Liquid sidechain. Liquid removes the delays and friction involved in a normal transfer of Bitcoin. Instead, participating exchanges–Bitfinex, BTCC, Kraken, Unocoin and Xapo–can make near instant exchanges between their accounts and orderbooks.

Lightning Network

Blockstream hired Rusty Russell, a well-known developer famous for his work on Linux kernel, to develop an implementation of the Bitcoin Lightning Network (LN). Russell has a four-part LN explanation on his blog.

Employees

Blockstream employs many of the most prominent and active Bitcoin Core developers.

Andrew Poelstra
Mathematician, Blockstream
Dr. Adam Back
President, Blockstream
Gregory Maxwell
CTO, Blockstream
Mark Friedenbach
Co-founder, Blockstream
Pieter Wuille
Bitcoin Core Developer

Venture Capital Rounds

company Blockstream: $55.0 million - Series A

3-Feb-2016 | Infrastructure

Description: Blockstream is the leading provider of blockchain technologies, on the forefront of work in cryptography and distributed systems. From fraud to counterfeiting, from security to confidentiality, from accountability to transparency, our mission is to solve problems that undermine trust in todays financial systems.

Investors: AXA Strategic Ventures, Digital Garage, Horizons Ventures. AME Cloud Ventures, Blockchain Capital, Future\Perfect Ventures

Headquartered: San Francisco

Country: United States

company Blockstream: $21 million - First

17-Nov-2014 | Infrastructure

Investors: Reid Hoffman, Khosla Ventures, Real Ventures, Crypto Currency Partners, Innovation Endeavors, Future\Perfect Ventures, Mosaic Ventures, Ribbit Capital, AME Cloud Ventures, Nicolas Berggruen, Max Levchin, Ray Ozzie, Danny Hillis, Embrace

Headquartered: San Francisco

Country: United States

Controversy

Bitcoin’s block size debate has caused some to question the company’s incentives. Blockstream employs five developers who have contributed to or contribute to Bitcoin Core: Pieter Wuille, Jorge Timón, Gregory Maxwell, Mark Friedenbach, and Matt Corallo.

Some claim that Blockstream intends to control the Bitcoin protocol through its employment of Bitcoin Core developers. This, however, seems unlikely. Bitcoin Core’s lead maintainer is part of MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative and only merges pull requests with far-reaching consensus, regardless of what any of Blockstream’s employees may request or suggest.