Coinbase, the American cryptocurrency brokerage and exchange provider, has reportedly acquired Cipher Browser. The news first became public through a tweet by Coinbase on April 13, 2018 and comes weeks after it announced support for ERC20 compliant tokens. The merger is likely the first of many more to come, especially as it also recently bought the crypto startup Earn.com for over $120 million.
While Coinbase has made several acquisitions in the past, this is the first instance in which it has decided to hire all developer talent for its own competing platform, specifically in this case, for its Toshi subsidiary. According to a tweet by Cipher Browser, founder Peter Kim will also become the head of engineering at Toshi to bring some Cipher features to the platform. The tweet concluded, “We’re committed to building the best Web 3 experience on mobile.”
The American exchange first announced Toshi in April 2017 as a way to store ETH, privately message contacts and browse decentralized applications on the Ethereum network. With Toshi, Coinbase stated that it was inspired by the Chinese digital payment platform WeChat and “wanted to build something for the rest of the world that works on open protocols.”
The vice president for communications at Coinbase, Rachel Horwitz, released a statement saying, “Given the similarity of our product visions, we’re happy to be joining forces with Pete, who will become head of engineering for Toshi along side Sid Coelho-Prabhu, Coinbase’s product lead for Toshi. In coming weeks, we’ll merge certain features of Cipher into Toshi.”
The main selling point of both, Toshi and Cipher Browser, is their marketplace for applications running on the Ethereum blockchain. In short, Ethereum provides developers with the ability to use decentralized consensus to build products and services thanks to the network’s support for smart contracts. Using a browser such as the one offered by Toshi, end users can discover new services similar to a mobile app store.
Given that Coinbase not only managed to rake in over a billion dollars in revenue thanks to its cryptocurrency exchange business, but also bagged an additional $100 million in funding, it has a significant amount of reserve to put towards acquisitions. To that end, Coinbase even recently hired Emilie Choi, a LinkedIn executive, to head its newly founded Mergers & Acquisitions department.
Coinbase first began acquiring other cryptocurrency companies as early as 2014 when it picked up Blockr and Kipt. More recently, however, it also hired the development team behind Memo.AI, a technical team management platform, in January 2018.
The ongoing onslaught of mergers paints a bright future for the startup that is looking to become the first cryptocurrency giant in the North America region. In an interview with Business Insider, the vice president of Coinbase, Dan Romero, said that it is “trying to build a company that could do for cryptocurrency what Google did for search.”
So far, the Cipher development team has confirmed that it will be bringing several highly-anticipated features to the Toshi platform, including support for testnets. The addition of testnets in a decentralized app browser will allow developers to selectively test prototype versions of their applications before launching it to the general public.