Blockchain-Secured IoT Platform Filament Raises $5M from Bullpen, Verizon, Samsung, DCG, Others

It seems completely natural to see convergence of two of the hottest, most disruptive technologies, Blockchain technology and the Internet of Things.

Filament, a startup that is harnessing blockchain technology to provide smart industrial infrastructure connecting machinery and equipment to a wireless sensor network, just closed a $5 million in funding led by Bullpen Capital.

Participating in the Series A round are Verizon Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Samsung Ventures, Digital Currency Group, Haystack, Working Lab Capital, Techstars and existing investors.

The company says it is developing blockchain technologies that will help businesses deploy and operate standalone sensor networks with existing infrastructure, in any environment, with or without the cloud.

Built on a blockchain-based decentralized software stack, the platform includes hardware devices called “Taps,” which have embedded environmental sensors, USB and GPIO for expanded sensor or machine control, and are equipped with hardware cryptographic chips for secure accessibility and communication.

Duncan Davidson, partner at Bullpen Capital, commented:

We are very excited about Filament, as it is building essential parts of the future Internet of Things ecosystem. Their vision goes well beyond the idea that IoT is just more connected devices building a scalable architecture. It’s about connecting trillions of things in a secure and trusted way, without crushing the networks.

Blockchain technology and Internet of Things appear so compatible as a significant goal in developing both of these technologies is decentralized systems.

Eric Jennings, co-founder and CEO of Filament, said:

We envision a decentralized system where billions of devices – each independently interacting and transacting value with each other – will create a massive opportunity for new business models.

Filament’s platform is being developed on the blockchain by leveraging open protocols including Telehash for private messaging, JOSE for smart contracting, TMesh for mesh networking, and BitTorrent for over the air firmware and management updates.

By building a distributed platform on the blockchain, Filament seeks to enable devices to independently process payments and enforce smart contracts to ensure digital trust. These networks can also enable companies to capture raw economic value generated by sensors and actuators.

Ed Ruth, director at Verizon Ventures, said:

Smart factories, smart farming, and smart cities are the next frontier – all with the promise of greater efficiency, automation, and intelligence. I look forward to working with Filament to explore the myriad of possibilities their new technology has opened up.

According to the company, the platform’s key benefits include:

  • All devices provide secure storage and communication with dedicated cryptographic hardware and work on an open platform Filament has dubbed Distributed Sensor Transactions (DIST).
  • In addition to Taps, Filament also offers a surface-mount module called the Patch that can be embedded in custom hardware. Objects with a Tap or Patch can connect over long distances – up to 10 miles – without existing WiFi, wired, or cellular connection; making industrial-scale networks easy to deploy and manage from a single interface.
  • Businesses can use Filament to create recurring revenue streams with physical devices, by authorizing access to their infrastructure and data over blockchain.

An alumnus of the R/GA Accelerator powered by Techstars, Filament grew from Pinocc.io, a connectivity module designed to let users build and link projects to each other and to the web.

Filament’s team, now led by Jennings and CTO Jeremie Miller, will focus on providing the same out-of-the-box connectivity for industrial use cases like asset tracking and remote monitoring.

Patrick Chang, Strategic Investments, Samsung Global Innovation Center, noted:

I have been impressed by Filament’s industrial IoT traction since their involvement in the R/GA Accelerator program. The Samsung team is excited to support Filament’s progress of leveraging the secure blockchain technology to build a decentralized IoT future.

Ryan Selkis, Director of Investments at Digital Currency Group, added:

The Internet of Things could be one of the largest and most exciting verticals for blockchain technology in the coming years. Rather than operating on expensive and siloed legacy infrastructure, we believe connected devices will only realize their full potential if they operate on a secure, distributed, and interoperable network like the blockchain’s. We are thrilled to invest in Filament and help the team implement their vision of decentralizing the Internet of Things.

Filament did not disclose what blockchain it would utilize for its platform. Previously, it had revealed that it was working with both Bitcoin and Ethereum protocols.

In early 2015, IBM and Samsung revealed that they had been working on a proof of concept, called ADEPT, for a Blockchain-powered Internet of Things system that was also based on Ethereum.

Founded in 2012, Filament has offices in Reno, Denver, and San Francisco, and has raised previous funding from David Cohen, First Step Fund, Resonant Venture Partners, the VegasTechFund and crowd funding.