Worldcoin, the eyeball-scanning crypto startup founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, is on the hunt for a lead investor for its latest round of financing.
The startup is in discussions with deep-pocketed investors, including sovereign wealth funds, about leading another fundraise, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter. It’s looking to raise up to $120 million at a valuation of $3 billion — the same valuation it raised at last year — according to one of those people. The round will be structured as a sale of equity plus token warrants, they added.
Worldcoin didn't respond to a request for comment.
The raise comes amid the spectacular success of ChaptGPT, the natural language interface developed by another Altman endeavor, OpenAI. The Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 5 that OpenAI had held talks with investors about a share sale that would value it at $29 billion. Microsoft is weighing a $10 billion investment in the company.
Altman, who in addition to founding OpenAI was previously president of the startup accelerator Y Combinator, co-founded Worldcoin in 2020. The startup initially hoped that its cryptocurrency, of the same name, would become the global infrastructure for universal basic income. Worldcoin’s model involves using so-called Orbs to scan a person’s iris for “proof of personhood,” as Altman has previously put it in interviews.
Upon unveiling the Orb technology in October 2021, the startup had already secured a $1 billion valuation thanks to a $25 million fundraise involving Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Coinbase Ventures, Digital Currency Group and angel investors including Sam Bankman-Fried, the now-disgraced CEO of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX.
The eyeball-scanning technology drew criticism from privacy advocates such as Edward Snowden. But Altman said at the time that the biometric information gathered by Worldcoin is neither stored nor tied to a person’s identity. Worldcoin raised another $100 million from Khosla Ventures and a16z in March 2022 at a valuation of $3 billion, according to The Information.
The startup’s goal is to distribute its token — which is due to launch in the first half of this year — to as many people around the world as possible. It has close to 1.2 million sign-ups to date, according to its website.
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