6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: Blockchain.com & Picsart make HQ news, AARP Connect & Thrive pitch finalists unveiled, and more


Blockchain.com to open 22,000-sq-ft HQ in Wynwood

Blockchain.com, the cryptocurrency trading platform, signed a 10-year lease  to take over the seventh and eighth floors at CUBE Wynwd – 22,000 square feet – for its new US HQ that is  expected to house up to 300 employees.

The deal also includes naming rights for the office building completed in 2019 at 222 NW 24th St. It will now be known as the Blockchain.com Building.

“As Miami solidifies its status as a mecca for crypto, we couldn’t be more excited to announce the location for planting our permanent roots in the city,” said Peter Smith, Blockchain.com CEO, in a statement. “The speed at which our business is growing matches that of Wynwood and Miami itself, creating the perfect backdrop for us to continue scaling worldwide from our very own Blockchain.com building.”

Blockchain.com announced its U.S. headquarters relocation from New York City to Miami last year, with plans to hire at least 100 employees. More recently, Blockchain.com signed on as the title sponsor of the upcoming eMerge Americas conference April 18-19. At the time, he said Blockchain.com planned to hire at least 250 people in Miami.

“You can talk about the great weather or the awesome people or the energy of the Miami tech scene, but for us it came down to the simple fact that it is a lot more fun to be a part of a community and building somewhere that shares your vision of what the future looks like,” Smith said at eMerge Americas’ La Casa event during TechBasel. “The passion for cryptocurrency in Miami is unmatched anywhere else in the United States.”

Founded in 2011 in London, Blockchain.com has more than 500 employees globally and has facilitated more than $1 trillion in crypto transactions through its platform.

As a new Wynwood company, Blockchain.com joins OpenStore, Atomic, Founders Fund and Spotify in the artsy, fast-growing neighborhood. Cube Wynwd is also the home base for security tech startup Transmit and Kushki, an Ecuadoran digital payments startup, co-working company Spaces and Shaolin Capital Management.

CUBE Wynwd soon to be Blockchain.com Building


Picsart chooses Miami Beach for US HQ

Picsart, the world’s largest digital creation platform with 150 million active users, announced the opening of a new U.S. headquarters in Miami Beach.

Previously based in San Francisco, Picsart chose Miami for a hub that was more central for Picsart’s 1000+ globally distributed employees, the company said. Picsart’s founder and CEO, Hovhannes Avoyan is already based in the Miami area alongside a small but growing team, and the company is continuing to hire for a number of roles in the region, including content, finance and administrative positions.

“We’re excited to join a rapidly growing innovation hub, building Picsart’s presence in a vibrant city with a booming tech scene,” said Avoyan. “As a globally minded and operated company, we’re committed to the collaboration between our international teams and a Miami headquarters helps support this. It’s accessible to our teams across Europe and the U.S.,”

The team is currently operating in the South Pointe area of Miami Beach. The remote-first Picsart opened offices in Bucharest and London earlier this year, and plans to open a Berlin office in March. It maintains a presence in Silicon Valley, and also has offices in New York, Bangalore, Toronto, and Glasgow.

Picsart has amassed a massive selection of open-source content collections, including free-to-edit photos and templates, and  has been among the world’s Top 20 most-downloaded mobile apps for the last three years. This news comes just after Picsart announced the launch of an API program, bringing its world-class creative tools to businesses of all sizes and offering a new way to support the creator economy. With eight initial partners, Picsart for Developers spans creative companies in digital advertising, website building, and customer merchandising, with more partners to be added in coming months.

Last year, Picsart raised a $130 million Series C round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund, which puts the company into unicorn territory. In October, Refresh Miami reported that Picsart was one of the companies funded under SoftBank’s Miami Initiative. SoftBank pledged in January of 2021 to inject $100 million in Miami -based companies or companies moving to Miami; by October, SoftBank had invested $250 million and counting.


AARP Connect & Thrive Pitch contest announces finalists; $25K in prizes

AARP Innovation Labs and Venture Miami announced the six finalists for the Connect & Thrive Pitch competition, which sought out digital innovations to combat loneliness and social isolation an issue that affects many adults as they age.

The finalists will present their AgeTech solutions in front of a panel of judges at an event at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami on March 9, which will also include opening remarks by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a talk about Papa’s journey and entertainment. The people’s choice winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize and the grand prize winner will receive a $20,000 cash prize.

“Tech solutions can be critical in reducing social isolation among older adults, from telehealth visits, to online shopping to virtual connections with loved ones,” Andy Miller, senior vice president of AARP Innovation Labs, said in a statement. “We look forward to hearing how these innovative solutions can help further address the issue of social isolation and loneliness among older adults.”

The finalists are:

Carevocacy(Hollywood)Carevocacy aims to reduce social isolation and promote independence through tech education. They do this by matching older adults with tech tutors, known as Carevocates. (See our Refresh Miami startup spotlight here

Chatables (West Palm Beach) Chatables creates virtual characters to engage isolated older adults in conversation and interactive skits to reduce feelings of loneliness, exercise the social and emotional brain, and potentially slow the onset of mental decline.

Mind&Melody, Inc. (Miami) – Mind&Melody uses interactive music programs with educational and therapeutic benefits for individuals experiencing neurological impairments in order to improve quality of life.

RAZ Mobility (Tysons Corner, VA) RAZ Mobility offers mobile assistive technology and services to people with disabilities, including the RAZ Memory Cell Phone for seniors with cognitive decline.

Storybook App (Miami) Storybook app combines narrated bedtime stories, music and relaxation techniques like meditation and infant massage to help parents and grandparents spend high-quality time with their children before bedtime to improve emotional health and sleep. (Storybook recently won the eMerge Americas / City National Bank Startup Studio pitch competition.)

Vivo (Atlanta) Vivo provides small group personal training online that, unlike video or live-streamed classes, is a live and interactive two-way experience that addresses the loss of strength and independence in older adults.

RSVP here to attend the March 9th competition.


Adam Neumann’s South Florida real estate empire grows

A company linked to WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann scored a construction loan for a new apartment tower at Miami Worldcenter, which will rise next to another building he recently acquired, the Real Deal Miami reported. Miami Worldcenter, a 27-acre, master-planned community in downtown Miami, includes condo, hotel, retail, office and other apartment rentals.

Neumann has been investing in commercial real estate, with a focus on multifamily, since his lucrative WeWork exit. Recently he paid $17 million for the retail ground floor of a new apartment project in Fort Lauderdale, which he also owns. Companies tied to Neumann have acquired majority interests in more than 4,000 apartments across the U.S., valued at over $1 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. The former WeWork CEO, who rented a home in Miami Beach last year, paid $44 million for residential land in Bal Harbour last summer, The Real Deal reported. Read more here;


OneOf, iHeartRadio’s The Breakfast Club announce NFT partnership

OneOf, the Miami-based Web3 startup built for music and sports, announced an exclusive partnership with iHeartRadio’s, top-rated Hip-Hop/R&B nationally-syndicated morning show The Breakfast Club.

OneOf and The Breakfast Club have teamed up to bring the accessibility of NFT’s to a mass audience, give diverse artists a platform in this emerging space, and create six drops of digital NFT collectibles inspired by the morning show and its hosts, DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne tha God.Information will be shared on the broadcast and  the artwork featured in the first drop will be by Justin Richburg.  

OneOf and iHeartRadio first partnered in the fall of 2021, when the platform created the official collectible NFT for the annual iHeartRadio Music Festival featuring performances by some of the biggest artists in music.Since then OneOf has announced major partnerships with Warner Music Group, The Grammy Awards and their launch into sports with the Sports Illustrated covers series that celebrates superstar athletes including Muhammad Ali, Shaquille O’Neal, Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice and more. OneOf’s recent Whitney Houston Collection made headlines when a never-before-heard Whitney Houston song made when she was 17 was sold at auction on OneOf for $1 million.

Read our recent spotlight on OneOf here.


Opportunity knocks

  • Apply now for Venture Miami’s Start-Up Mornings, It’s a conversation between founders and funders on how to raise capital and grow your startup. Ask questions, connect with other entrepreneurs, meet local VCs and engage in an educational morning Cafecito. Find out more and sign up here.
  • The deadline is Monday, Feb. 28, for early- and late-stage startups to apply to have a chance to win over $400,000 in investment at the eMerge Americas Startup Showcase. The competition, presented by Algorand and in partnership with Florida Funders and Panoramic Ventures, will culminate in a pitch competition taking place April 18-19 at the eMerge Americas conference. Apply here.
  • March 1 is the deadline to enter  the Miami Herald’s Startup Pitch Competition. Find more information and submit your entry here.
  • The 1909 Accelerator in West Palm Beach is taking applications for its next cohort; the application deadline is March 18. The 6-month program is designed to help early-stage startup founders develop their ideas into successful and sustainable businesses through collaboration, gamification, and holistic best practices. Apply here.

Got #MiamiTech news? Email Nancy Dahlberg at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @ndahlberg

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Nancy Dahlberg