Orchid Labs, a San Francisco-based startup that’s developing a a surveillance-free layer on top of the internet, has raised a bunch of funding, according to a newly processed SEC filing that shows the year-old startup has closed on $36.1 million. The money comes just five months after Orchid closed on a separate, $4.5 million in funding from investors, including Yes VC, cofounded by serial entrepreneurs Caterina Fake and Jyri EngestrÃ¶m.
The stated goal of the Orchid is to provide anonymized internet access to people across the globe, particularly individuals who live in countries with excessive government oversight of their browsing and shopping.
Part of the point also seems to be to insulate users from the many companies that now harvest and sell their data, including walled gardens like Facebook and other giants like AT&T.
In a word where one assumes the Cambridge Analytica scandal is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to data abuse, it’s easy to see the project’s appeal. So far, judging by the filing, the company has raised that $36.1 million via a SAFT agreement, an investment contract offered by cryptocurrency developers to accredited investors.
The filing shows that 42 individuals have participated to date. It shows a target of $125,595,882 million, however, and judging by how hot particular blockchain ideas are getting, and how quickly (see the Basis deal earlier this week), you can imagine more money will flow to the company if it hasn’t already. (That’s also an awfully specific target on its filing.)
We’ve reached out to the company for more information. If you want to learn more, you can also check out its white paper.
In the meantime, it’s worth noting that Orchid has five founders with varied and interesting backgrounds. They include Stephen Bell, who spent seven years as a managing director at Trilogy Ventures, shopping for opportunities in China, before returning to the states in 2015; Steve Waterhouse, long an investor with the digital currencies-focused firm Pantera Capital; former Ethereum Foundation developer Gustav Simonsson; software engineer Jay Freeman; and Brian Fox, who is credited with building the first interactive online banking software for Wells Fargo in 1995 and was first employee of the legendary programmer Richard Stallman’s Free Software Foundation, among other things.
Between the money involved, the mission, and the founders, this one looks like a Big Deal. Stay tuned.