In April of 2014 at a Toronto hackathon a project called “Dark Market” was created. Amir Taaki lead a small team of developers to build a proof of concept for a decentralized marketplace. The software was completely peer to peer with no central organization controlling it. The Dark Market entry won the hackathon, but Amir and his team decided not to continue work on the project.
Brian Hoffman talked to Amir about Dark Market and learned they weren’t going to continue development. He liked the idea of a decentralized marketplace, but didn’t like the sole focus on darknet markets, so he forked the project and renamed it OpenBazaar.
The idea of a permissionless marketplace was powerful, and people around the world joined Brian to help build this open source software. In September this team released the first test version of the software. Over the next few months the team continued improving the software and got an encouraging response from the Bitcoin community. They visited FOSSDEM (Free Open Source Software Developers European Meeting) in Brussels early in 2015, and presented the project to an enthusiastic crowd. Brian and a few core members of the team decided that it was time to turn the project from a part-time, volunteer effort into a serious, well-funded campaign to bring free trade to the world.
They founded a company, OB1, with a $1 million venture capital investment from Union Square Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz, and immediately began hiring developers to build a better version of the software from the ground up.
In April 2016 the first full release of the software was published, and tens of thousands of people around the world downloaded OpenBazaar and began buying and selling with each other directly, using Bitcoin.
OB1 received a second round of investment for $3 million in the fall of 2016, further expanding their development team and began work on the second major version of the software, improving on the limitations of the first version.