Announcing our investment in Celo — a monetary system to create conditions of prosperity for all

Over the past few days, you may have seen news about Celo cross your newsfeed.

Today, we are thrilled to share that we were early backers in the company (since January 2018) as it announces it’s most recent $30M raise led by A16z and Polychain.

What exactly is Celo? It’s an open and open-sourced crypto-powered global payment platform that enables financial applications to be built on top of it. Applications can range from easier cash transfer programs to P2P lending, collaborative small-scale insurance, digital assets and wallets. Celo is mobile-first, and as such, it is far more accessible and user friendly than the average typical crypto wallet.

Celo is putting its initial focus on those who need it most: emerging markets where people have limited access to traditional banking services. The company’s mobile-first approach is important since two thirds of the “unbanked” population now have a smartphone.

Users can get access to Celo tokens via a mobile app. Celo creates a cryptographically secure mapping of phone numbers to wallet addresses so that people can easily find wallet addresses of people in their address book. Sending payments is as easy as sending a text.

The platform has two tokens: Celo Gold can be earned for decentralized verifications. Celo Dollar is a stable coin that is pegged to the dollar. The stable coin is particularly important given the volatility of cryptocurrency and emerging markets.

We have been excited about this investment for two key reasons: the team and their vision.

Celo’s strong global team knows how to make complicated technology easy to use. Co-founder Sep Kamvar developed the first efficient algorithm for adding personal context to the internet search process. Until recently, he has been a computer science professor at MIT and invented EigenTrust, a well known algorithm for managing reputation and trust online.

Co-founders Rene Reinsberg and Marek Olszewski previously founded local business data startup Locu, an MIT spinout that was sold to GoDaddy Inc. Marek made influential contributions to the field of efficient deterministic multithreading while at MIT, and Rene has worked in global capital markets at Morgan Stanley and at the World Bank’s Venezuela office.

And as a sign of just how small and connected our world is, we at Version One share alma maters with the co-founders: Boris and Rene at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and Angela and Marek at the University of Toronto.

From the start, we understood how well Celo’s vision aligns with our core belief in technology’s ability to solve problems and democratize access to resources. As we mentioned earlier, Celo’s initial focus is on those who need this technology the most…the large populations on this globe who are unbanked or underbanked. For more on this, we’ll let Celo’s powerful words speak for themselves:

“We believe blockchain technology is one of the most exciting innovations in recent history and as a team we look to push the boundaries of what is possible with it today. More importantly, we are driven by purpose — to solve real-world problems such as lack of access to sound currency, or friction for cash-transfer programs aimed to alleviate poverty. Our mission is to build a monetary system that creates the conditions for prosperity for all.”

We are so proud to be a part of Celo’s journey and mission.

You can stay up to date with Celo’s progress on Twitter. To learn more about the technology under the hood, check out Celo’s whitepaper. And of course, the team is hiring!

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