The entrepreneur who made a crazy $20,000 smartphone now wants to build a $1,200 blockchain phone

Sirin Labs, the company behind the $US16,000 (£12,000) luxury Solarin phone, has announced that it intends to raise around $US100 million (£74 million) to fund the development of a smartphone and a PC that will run on the blockchain.

The startup said on Tuesday that the $A1,200 smartphone and the $A1,013 PC will sit under a new device range called “Finney” and that they will be “secure open source consumer electronics for the blockchain era.”

The founder and CEO of Sirin Labs is serial entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg — an eccentric Israeli who convinced Leondardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy to attend the launch of his first phone. In addition to Sirin Labs, Hogeg is also the founder of messaging app Yo!, photo-sharing startup Mobli, and venture capital firm Singulariteam, which has raised around $A256 million.

Hogeg told Business Insider ahead of the Finney announcement that the yet-to-be-built devices will be able to share data, battery power, and processing power with other Finney devices (sometimes a cable will be necessary).

But there’s one condition: these resources can only be offered in exchange for the company’s SRN cryptocurrency. “You share the value [of your resources] and get value in exchange,” said Hogeg.

Sirin Labs needs to raise tens of millions of dollars to fund Finney’s development. Hogeg plans to do this by issuing a new cryptocurrency and selling some of it to investors in exchange for legal tender or other cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. “We need around $A63 million to build the phone,” Hogeg said. “If we get $A95 million we can build the computer.”

Assuming the money is raised for Finney, then the phone will take around nine months to develop, while the PC will take six months, Hogeg said.

The Finney devices will run on Sirin Labs’ Shield OS, which would be designed to support a number of blockchain applications. The company writes on its website that Shield OS would be able to support a crypto wallet, encrypted communications, and a P2P resource sharing ecosystem for payment and apps.

Hogeg is exceptionally bullish when it comes to the blockchain to the extent that he told Business Insider on August 31 that he wants to invest in every Israeli blockchain startup there is. “I actually think it’s underhyped,” said Hogeg, who plans to invest anything from a few thousand dollars to a few million in local blockchain startups.

Sirin Labs is also willing to work with other phone manufacturers to promote the adoption of Finney, in the same way that Google has done with Android. The company will need another $A31 million (£18 million) to fund the development of Shield OS for OEMS.

On the topic of Sirin’s premium Solarin phone, Hogeg said: “The company has pivoted from luxury phones to mass market electronics. We released some of the man power we didn’t need and hired new ones that are focused on blockchain.

“The company is going in a new direction. We still sell the line but we’re not planning to keep developing the line. We’re not going to invest more money.”

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