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Several mining operations already snapped up by company

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies have been hot for a couple years now, and Austin has already been called a hub for the evolving technologies.

But blockchain and crypto seems to be catching a particularly big wave of attention in Austin these days, with Texas newcomer Elon Musk boasting about the potential of various currencies and letting consumers buy Teslas with Bitcoin and Gov. Greg Abbott tweeting support for new laws to allow crypto to flourish.

Crypto mining startup Blockcap has seen the potential in Austin. It has moved its headquarters from Las Vegas to the Texas capital, adding to an already powerful influx of new startups and technology companies relocating to Austin or opening new offices here.

Blockcap officially opened its corporate HQ in downtown Austin several months ago, founder and Executive Chairman Darin Feinstein said via email. It has about 20 employees at the undisclosed location, and it plans to grow the team to 50 to 100 employees in the next six to nine months.

The startup said it has raised more than $100 million thus far. The company has recently acquired thousands of mining machines, adding to more than 40,000 other miner machines. It believes that by Q4 this year it will likely be the largest bitcoin mining operation in North America.

Blockcap chose Austin as an HQ for its workforce and business-friendly regulations, “as well as pronouncements by Governor Abbott and his team regarding protecting blockchain technology,” Feinstein said.

The company has already acquired several mining operations, though it didn’t disclose an exact count.

“We will continue to be very active in regards to our mergers and acquisitions department,” Feinstein wrote. “As our company enters into more products and services, we plan on growing and expanding into multiple arenas depending on market conditions and timing. We’re obviously very bullish on the economy here in Texas, and are definitely looking into acquisitions in the state.”

For years, blockchain leaders, including Wanchain founder Jack Lu and Factom CEO Paul Snow, have been developing the local ecosystem and attracting interested technologists.

Last year, tech leaders and executives launched the Texas Blockchain Council to help encourage additional growth in the relatively new sector and promote policies that support more widespread use of the technology in government and with private businesses.

This month, Bloomberg reported that Tesla Inc.’s chief financial officer and “master of coin,” Zachary Kirkhorn, purchased an Austin home, hinting that he could be helping forge Tesla’s coin operations from Austin.

Meanwhile, a new bill being considered in the Texas Legislature aims to update the state’s Uniform Commercial Code to spell out what virtual currencies are and how they can be traded, used for making payments and in solving loan disputes. That proposal, HB 4474, was pending in a House committee as of April 15.

And, at the end of March, Abbott signaled his support for new crypto laws.

“It is increasingly being used for transactions and is beginning to go mainstream as an investment. (Fidelity, etc. trying to get Bitcoin ETF),” he tweeted. “Texas should lead on this like we did with a gold depository.”

All this comes amidst a flurry of activity, including a $5.5 million seed round for Austin’s Unchained Capital in March, and, more recently, the nearly $86 billion valuation attributed to Coinbase on its market debut this week.



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