Tools for Humanity, the technology company behind Worldcoin, announced today that it has raised s$115 million in series C funding led by Blockchain Capital. The funding will go toward a variety of projects, including an alternative to the oft-derided CAPTCHA test.
"It was this idea of creating a new primitive for the internet that can enable any application to easily and quickly distinguish between machines and humans, or bots and humans," Blockchain Capital General Partner Spencer Bogart told Decrypt in an interview. "That was something that took me working more closely with our engineering team to really appreciate how big of a problem that already is."
Bots have been a thorn in the side of blockchain and cryptocurrency projects for a long time.
"[CAPTCHA] has been fairly effective for distinguishing between bots and humans," Bogart said. "That's no longer the case with more advanced automated systems, especially things being powered by AI."
Other companies looking to fight the use of bots to scam and cheat include Civic, which launched a suite of tools last summer to stop bots from taking unfair advantage of NFT drops by limiting the number of wallets an account can use.
Though Bogart did not say how much Blockchain Capital invested in the round, other investors joining the raise included a16z crypto, Bain Capital Crypto, and Distributed Global. In addition to bot detection, Tools for Humanity says the funds will go towards research and development and expanding the Worldcoin project and World App.
San Francisco, Calif.-based Tools for Humanity boasts a growing team that includes former employees of the Electric Coin Company, Revolut, Uber, Block, Twitter, and Apple.
The announcement of the raise comes a week after a report by the Financial Times said Worldcoin co-founder and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman was in "advanced talks" on a new financing round with an initial target of $100 million.
Currently in beta, Worldcoin is an Ethereum-based token designed to support something akin to a universal basic income for people worldwide. The project aims to become the world’s largest and most inclusive identity and financial network, built around World ID and the Worldcoin token, with the eventual goal of becoming a DAO-like entity with decentralized decision-making.
While Worldcoin says U.S. citizens and those living in "other restricted areas" cannot receive Worldcoins, the company says it has onboarded nearly two million users across five continents.
The project faced pushback almost immediately when the WorldID project announced that it would utilize retina scans to verify the account holder was human and not a bot in an process dubbed Proof of Personhood.
Tools for Humanity has said that the eyeball scans are destroyed once processed. Still, skeptics, including famed whistleblower Edward Snowden, are not ready to give that level of trust to a tech company.
Despite its detractors, Bogart says the team at Blockchain Capital has seen enough to be satisfied that Tools for Humanity will do as they said.
"Hopefully, [Worldcoin] can provide more information in an open nature that will give more people that assurance," Bogart said. "It's a major hurdle for them—it's something they have to get over because ultimately people should be skeptical up until they feel confident that that's actually the case."