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Chicago crypto-software startup Zero Hash raises $105M – Crain’s Chicago Business

Zero Hash, whose software allows companies to accept cryptocurrencies and deal with digital assets such as NFTs, raised $105 million in new funding.The company, founded four years ago, is riding the wave of venture capital flooding into cryptocurrency and blockchain startups. Total investment in the sector quadrupled last year, according to PitchBook.

Zero Hash, which is headquartered in Fulton Market, has quadrupled its staff to 80 in the past two years.

The new funding comes just four months after it raised $35 million in round led by hedge fund mogul Steven Cohen’s Point72 Ventures. Other investors include Bain Capital Ventures. Milan Galik, CEO of online brokerage Interactive Brokers Group, joined Zero Hash’s board in connection with its latest funding.

Overall, the company has raised $165 million. Zero Hash plans to double its staff in the next 12 months, said CEO Edward Woodford.

He’s betting that more companies will need Zero Hash’s technology as cryptocurrency goes mainstream among investors and consumers.

“Every financial services company will offer a crypto product. Now we believe every consumer-facing company will have some sort of digital asset strategy,” he says. “If you look at Robin Hood getting almost 50% of its revenue from crypto, you can’t ignore it.”

He says Zero Hash recently signed one of the world’s largest gaming companies as a customer, but the company hasn’t yet been announced publicly. Among its other customers is Tastyworks, the Chicago-based brokerage arm of Tastytrade, which was sold last year to IG Group for $1 billion. Tastyworks also is an investor. Digital banks MoneyLion and Wirex also use Zero Hash.

Woodford moved to Chicago from Boston in 2015 and launched Zero Hash, then called Seed CX, as a cryptocurrency exchange two years later. He realized that selling the technology infrastructure needed for handling crypto transactions was the better business opportunity. It’s similar to what Chicago software company Braintree did with credit card payments.

Woodford said he was drawn to Chicago because of its trading industry roots. “Chicago was early in crypto, especially the trading world,” he said. “There’s a lot of good talent here.”