Blockstack, formerly called Onename, just raised $4 million

Blockstack, a three-year-old, New York-based decentralized Internet and developer platform for secure, serverless apps, has raised $4 million in new funding led by earlier investor Union Square Ventures. Other investors in the round include Lux Capital, Digital Currency Group, Compound, Version One, Kal Vepuri, Rising Tide, and earlier investor Naval Ravikant of AngelList.

The company, a Y Combinator graduate formerly known as Onename, said in an October interview with The Observer that it has been designing an alternative browser powered by the bitcoin blockchain that it imagines will enable users to store all their posts, photos, messages, and calendar appointments in their own cloud sites.

In short, web surfers would no longer leave a trail of the data they’ve generated with powerhouses like Facebook and Google unless they want to grant companies access to it.

At a TedxNewYork talk last year, Blockstack cofounder and CTO Muneeb Ali crystalized the point of the company, saying this “new internet takes away power from these large companies and takes it to where it always belonged, with the people.”

We reached out to the company earlier today and will update this post with more information if and when we can. In the meantime, here’s how it works, from its site:

Building on Blockstack starts with single-page applications built in Javascript that are downloaded onto user devices. Developers plug into blockstack.js, which provides APIs for authenticating the user, grabbing application data from the user, and storing new application data with the user (encrypted and backed up to cloud storage). The blockchain is [then] utilized to maintain a cross-application identity system, securely mapping user IDs to usernames, public keys, and data storage URIs.

Blockstack passed through YC in the summer of 2014 as a startup looking to streamline bitcoin transactions. As TC reported at the time, the company aimed to offer a single page that allowed users to send and receive money from other bitcoin users by offering a verified name page where users could click a single button and type a name into a wallet application. The company has since expanded into a full platform for decentralized applications, providing services beyond just identity, including DNS/naming, storage and authentication.

Blockstack previously raised $120,000 from YC, followed by a $1.33 million seed round from SV Angel, investor Shana Fisher, Union Square Ventures, and Ravikant, among others.

Correction: The original version of this story reported that Blockstack had raised $5.3 million in funding based on this SEC filing; the company has raised $5.3 million altogether, but has raised just $4 million in fresh capital.