MAY 19 DIGEST: Ripple Labs Raises $28 Million, Ulbricht Defense Argues Silk Road Made Drug Use Safer

Ripple Labs raised a US$28 million series A funding round, Ross Ulbricht's defense urges judge in Silk Road case to consider the dark market’s potential for harm reduction, and more top stories for May 19.

Ripple Labs Raises US$28m from Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Seagate

Ripple Labs, the creator of the international payment network and digital currency Ripple (XRP), has raised a US$28 million series A funding round. The funding round featured many strategic investors including the venture arm of Chicago Mercantile Exchange & Chicago Board of Trade, one of the largest security and future exchange operators in the United States. Other notable investors in the round are Chinese venture capital firm IDG Capital Partners and the global data storage company Seagate Technology.

Ripple Labs CEO and co-founder Chris Larsen stated:

“Financial institutions, market makers and corporations are laying the foundation for this Internet of Value, contributing and providing liquidity for global payments. With investors like CME Group and Seagate joining the fold, we’re well positioned to accelerate adoption amongst these key customers.”

Ulbricht Defense Argues Silk Road Made Drug Use Safer

In a memo to judge Katherine Forrest ahead of Ross Ulbricht's sentencing, the Silk Road leader's defense has asked her to consider the dark market's potential for harm reduction when she determines Ulbricht’s sentence in less than two weeks.

Ulbricht’s lead defense attorney Joshua Dratel wrote:

“In contrast to the government’s portrayal of the Silk Road web site as a more dangerous version of a traditional drug marketplace, in fact the Silk Road web site was in many respects the most responsible such marketplace in history, and consciously and deliberately included recognized harm reduction measures, including access to physician counseling. In addition, transactions on the Silk Road web site were significantly safer than traditional illegal drug purchases, and included quality control and accountability features that made purchasers substantially safer than they were when purchasing drugs in a conventional manner.”

Ross Ulbricht

Bitcoin Startup 21 Unveils Product Plan

21, the world’s best-funded bitcoin startup, has revealed its plans to market a line of chips to embed in consumer devices, allowing smartphones and other Internet-connected gadgets to continuously mine bitcoin. Co-founder Balaji Srinivasan outlined various applications for 21’s embeddable mining chip, mostly aimed at what it sees as future industrial uses of bitcoin rather than treating mining as a means simply to get rich.

He also announced that he is taking over from Matthew Pauker as chief executive and that 21’s board will now include Ben Horowitz, the founding partner at Andreessen Horowitz, where Mr. Srinivasan is also a partner.

Bitcoin Startup 21 Unveils Product Plan

US$80,000 Worth of Bitcoin Seized in International Dark Web Crackdown

United States Homeland Security Investig