This article first appeared in Boston Business Journal, a sister publication of BostInno.
Boston-based financial technology startup Circle Financial Internet Ltd. has acquired Poloniex, a cryptocurrency exchange, in a deal reportedly worth about $400 million.
The two companies have a combined revenue of $250 million over the past three months, according to Fortune, and the deal sets up Circle to compete with Coinbase and a few other startups vying to be the world’s most important cryptocurrency exchange.
Founded in 2013 by serial entrepreneurs Sean Neville and Jeremy Allaire, Circle has raised $136 million to date from investors like Goldman Sachs, Baidu, IDG Capital, Accel Partners and General Catalyst Partners. It was valued at $480 million during its most recent fundraising in 2016.
Poloniex was founded in 2014 and its website lists its headquarters as Boston, but details about the company are hard to come by. A regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2016 listed the Poloniex headquarters as Kalispell, Montana. Poloniex founder Tristan D’agosta rarely speaks with the media.
Circle’s ultimate goal is to use blockchain software to make payments free and frictionless over the internet, but most of its revenues currently come from Circle Trade, an over-the-counter trading exchange that lets individuals and institutional investors buy and sell various cryptocurrency tokens.
In a blog post discussing the acquisition, Neville and Allaire said they plan to boost the Poloniex exchange by applying Circle’s expertise in customer support and user design. The pair also laid out a sweeping vision of a world in which nearly everything is “tokenized” via cryptocurrency, allowing individuals to easily trade small slices of value even in traditionally non-liquid assets.
In the coming years, we expect to grow the Poloniex platform beyond its current incarnation as an exchange for only crypto assets. We envision a robust multi-sided distributed marketplace that can host tokens which represent everything of value: physical goods, fundraising and equity, real estate, creative productions such as works of art, music and literature, service leases and time-based rentals, credit, futures, and more.
We believe that the contractual rules around exchange for anything and everything will become increasingly represented in distributed global software, rely on inconvertible distributed shared memory in the form of distributed ledgers, and benefit from the services of global multidimensional marketplaces such as Circle Poloniex. The future of the global economy is open, shared, inclusive, far more evenly distributed, and powerful not only for a few chosen gatekeepers, but for all who will connect.