The former head of Y Combinator wants to distribute UBI via cryptocurrency – and is testing an eye scanner that would identify recipients

In this photo illustration of the litecoin, ripple and ethereum cryptocurrency 'altcoins' sit arranged for a photograph
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  • A new cryptocurrency is aiming to distribute wealth to everyone on earth, Bloomberg reported.
  • Y Combinator’s Sam Altman thought of the concept of Worldcoin in 2019.
  • Now, the creators have developed a way to scan people’s irises to assign the cryptocurrency.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A new cryptocurrency aims to distribute wealth to “every single person on earth” with the help of an orb-shaped device that would scan people’s irises to identify them, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

Sam Altman, the former president of Y Combinator, a seed-money company that helped grow Airbnb and Dropbox among others, thought of the concept of Worldcoin in 2019 in the hopes of capitalizing on the economic idea of universal basic income, Bloomberg reported.

According to an online job listing, the new cryptocurrency is “free, frictionless and not controlled by anyone.”

Worldcoin hopes to reach mass adoption by “distributing it to everyone on earth through a novel approach: a dedicated hardware device ensuring both humanness and uniqueness of everybody signing up, while maintaining their privacy and the overall transparency of a permissionless blockchain,” the post said.

The silver, basketball-sized device would scan peoples’ irises to create a personal identifier for the coin and prevent users from defrauding the system, Bloomberg reported, adding that the creators said the image isn’t stored. Bloomberg said the device is being tested in various cities with Bitcoin because Worldcoin itself is not yet ready to hit the market.

Altman – who is one of three founders and now serves as an advisor, according to the report – did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment for the story. Firms backing Worldcoin include Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm behind Coinbase. The firm also did not respond immediately to Insider.

Worldcoin has yet to be formally unveiled, Bloomberg reported, as the founders, who believe crypto could give the whole world access to financial systems, are considering how to distribute the currency to everyone.

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8 multi-billion IPOs that cemented Andreessen Horowitz’s power

Marc Andreessen Ben Horowtiz Andreessen Horowitz
Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz have had several blockbuster exits in the past couple of years.

  • Andreessen Horowitz earned its Silicon Valley power broker status by backing Facebook and Twitter.
  • It’s turned those wins into a decade of multi-billion exits.
  • Here are the firm’s eight biggest IPO exits since 2011.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A decade after Marc Andreessen declared that software was “eating the world,” his VC firm has notched a succession of multibillion-dollar exits.

Andreessen Horowitz, founded in 2009, hit the ground running early with a few IPOs among its portfolio companies in its first few years: Groupon and Zynga in 2011, and Facebook in 2012. The firm, known as a16z, reportedly bought a stake in Twitter, which went public in 2013, through secondary markets.

But as Crunchbase noted in a recent analysis of Andreessen Horowitz’s performance, the VC firm didn’t have large enough stakes in those companies to merit a mention in SEC filings.

That’s also the case for a couple of more recent public debuts within its portfolio: Airbnb and Roblox. Andreessen Horowitz backed Roblox in 2020 as part of its later-stage portfolio.

But several of its more substantial investments have borne fruit recently. According to Crunchbase, the firm has had stakes of 5% or more in eight companies that have gone public since 2011. All but one have gone public in the last two years.

The VC firm was the largest institutional investor in Coinbase prior to the company’s direct listing in April. Andreessen Horowitz’s stake, based on the company’s recent share performance, is worth around $6 billion.

Here are all the public companies since 2011 in which a16z held at least a 5% stake. For most of the companies, the VC firm got in early.

Company Public debut First a16z investment
Okta April 2017 2010, Series A
Lyft March 2019 2013, Series C
PagerDuty April 2019 2013, Series A
Pinterest April 2019 2011, Series B
Slack June 2019 2010, Series A
Accolade July 2020 2016, Series E
DigitalOcean March 2021 2014, Series A
Coinbase April 2021 2013, Series B

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