Yo. Today I am thrilled to finally publicly reveal Zap has closed a $3.5M seed round with some amazing strategic partners in both Bitcoin and payments.
This company has been through it all and has an incredible story. What started as an open-source project in the basement of Bitcoin Mom’s house has turned into something much bigger. We started with building one of the most popular open-source non-custodial Lightning wallets, and recently we released our flagship product Strike, a first of its kind Lightning native neo-bank.
Back in 2017, I wrote a Medium article announcing Zap, a Lightning Network wallet for the community. The driver was simple: I love Bitcoin and in the midst of a scaling war, I wanted to help Bitcoin. In order to help I decided to work on Lightning. More specifically I wanted to make Lightning relatable, usable, and easy to conceptualize. I wanted to show the world that Bitcoin was going to scale on layer two and achieve our hopes and ambitions as a community, all without the need to compromise the very characteristics that make Bitcoin valuable.
Here are some funny photos. My parents and I when I first began coding, a selfie I took in my bed when writing the first lines of code that started Zap, and a picture my best friend took of me (who now works at Zap) hacking on the first versions of what would become Zap on my couch 😃
Since then, Zap has become one of the most popular open-source, non-custodial, Lightning Network wallets. After a few years of having a front-row seat into the scaling of this asset class and this new emerging protocol, I began to learn how and why people were using Bitcoin with Lightning. It was a budding new use case. Users weren’t speculating on the asset class and weren’t necessarily prioritizing privacy or censorship resistance. All of a sudden, Bitcoin was being used as a payment rail to physically settle value globally, instantly, and for extremely cheap.
So, I sketched the beginnings of what is now Strike in my hotel room in Paris, in the fall of 2019. Here is the initial Strike sketch from my notebook and a selfie I took with Mona Lisa that same day.
Fast forward to today, Zap is now the home to 13 unbelievably talented people, and we work on Strike every single day, across six countries. We’ve recently released Strike publicly in the US and since our July 2nd public BETA launch, we have thousands of active users and will process well into six figures worth of volume in the month of July alone.
It’s been a wild ride. So many people doubted us, turned down investing, told me my ideas weren’t going to work, and that I couldn’t build something meaningful without a college degree. I look at my 2017 Medium article as a thesis of sorts that explain the foundations of my approach to Bitcoin, product design, etc. But one point particularly sticks out to me today.
In my initial 2017 Medium article, I wrote:
Lightning Network has become quite the buzzword recently, especially with the lock-in of the highly anticipated upgrade segwit. With the hype, I have received some attention from investors and potential business partners interested in Zap. I have respectfully declined all offers.
Why? Throughout bitcoin’s evolution, we have seen many companies create and follow incentives that misalign with the broader community and its users because they are beholden to their initial business model and/or their outside investors. This creates an unhealthy relationship between their financial incentives and the users actually using their product(s) — more often than not resulting in decisions made against the best interest of users and their experience.
In a lot of ways, I still believe this statement to be true. Yes, we took in capital, but that capital exists to scale our services to more people. Strike is a service that addresses pain points for mass adoption, and Zap exists to serve, well, everyone else. The two exist as polar opposite services that complement each other in terms of the audience they address. Bitcoin is who I go to war for, nothing more, nothing less. This is why this financing process has taken me years. Up until recently, my family and I self-funded this project out of my bedroom to ensure we do what is best for Bitcoin and this community. Post-funding, none of this changes.
Over the years, Zap and Strike have become bigger than I ever could’ve imagined. I was a kid when I got involved with Bitcoin. I couldn’t have dreamt the seven years since. Today, I am so excited and proud to have found the investors and partners that allow me to scale Strike and Bitcoin to the world. I can’t do this alone, and now I don’t have to. We’ll be growing every aspect of the business, from the team, to the products we offer, the partners we work with, and the markets we operate in.
I am actively hiring to expand our offerings into other markets and other product spaces. We have new Strike features, a Strike card in partnership with VISA, Strike rewards, Strike merchant tools, and more coming in the near future. If you love Bitcoin, are a good-hearted human, and are extremely talented, I will hire you on the spot. I’d also like to make a point here, if you feel as though you are unqualified, find solace in the fact that this motley crew (terrible band I'm sorry) of fine people is comprised of those that have never graduated high school to those with multiple masters degrees. We hire talent. We hire ambition. We hire passion. There are no prerequisites to work here. Those are the only things I look for. If you’re interested in working on Strike with me, shoot a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. We have a lot of work to do, and we need your help getting it done.
I’m pretty speechless. It’s an emotional day for me. I joined this community when I was 18. While my childhood friends were rushing fraternities and tailgating at university, I was on r/Bitcoin shitposting big blockers. You all helped raise me. This is my alma mater.
It feels like I blinked and am living a dream. I’m contributing to a technology, an idea, and a movement that I believe will change the world. I mean, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me, how cool is that? If I were to live the last seven years of my life over again, I’d be sitting right here, writing this blog post. It’s days like today that have me jumping with excitement about the next seven years and beyond.
Thanks to everyone that supported this journey. I am forever in debt and beyond grateful for everything this community has done for me. Bitcoin has changed my life in ways I could’ve only dreamed.
The future will be fun, you now know I’ve got so much more coming for years to come.
As always, much love fam. Talk soon ❤️ 🍻