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Dapper Labs, the maker of blockchain-based digital collectibles CryptoKitties and NBA Top Shot, has raised $305 million in a new round of funding.
Dapper Labs is also the creator of the Flow blockchain network, an alternative to the Ethereum cryptocurrency network. It uses that network as the foundation for nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, which use the secure and transparent nature of the digital ledger (blockchain) to ensure the uniqueness of each digital item.
In the past few months, NFTs have exploded in other applications such as art, sports collectibles, and music. NBA Top Shot (a digital take on collectible basketball cards) is one example. Published by Animoca Brands and built by Dapper Labs, NBA Top Shot has surpassed $500 million in sales since October. And an NFT digital collage by the artist Beeple sold at Christie’s for $69.3 million. Investors are pouring money into NFTs, and some of those investors are game fans.
The round, led by Coatue, brings in more than 30 NBA, NFL, and MLB athletes, entertainment leaders, and cultural influencers — and includes participation from The Chernin Group, Andreessen Horowitz, Venrock, USV, and Version One.
The Vancouver-based Dapper Labs said the investors include NBA legend Michael Jordan, current players and funds including Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Kyle Lowry, Spencer Dinwiddie, Andre Drummond, Alex Caruso, Michael Carter-Williams, Josh Hart, Udonis Haslem, JaVale McGee, Khris Middleton, Domantas Sabonis, Klay Thompson, Nikola Vucevic, Thad Young, and Richard Seymour’s 93 Ventures. It also includes investors from entertainment and music such as Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures, Will Smith and Keisuke Honda’s Dreamers VC, Shawn Mendes and Andrew Gertler’s AG Ventures, Shay Mitchell, and 2 Chainz.
Additional investors in the round include: MLB players like Tim Beckham and Nolan Arenado; NFL players Ken Crawley, Thomas Davis, Stefon Diggs, Dee Ford, Malcom Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Jordan Matthew, Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty, DK Metcalf, Tyrod Taylor, and Trent Williams; team ownership including Vivek Ranadive (Kings), and notable sports investors Bolt Ventures. This round of financing brings the total capital raised by the company to $357 million.
The funds will help scale the Dapper Labs team to continue work on NBA Top Shot, expanding the platform to other sports, and helping a new generation of creators develop engaging experiences using blockchain technology, including NFTs.
NBA Top Shot is one of the world’s fastest-growing marketplaces, with nearly $500 million in sales, more than 800,000 registered accounts and 338,000 customers with at least one NFT, and over 3 million transactions, less than five months into its open beta.
The success of NBA Top Shot also establishes that Flow, the blockchain built to handle mainstream consumer applications at scale, can support mass adoption, which is something that separates it from its blockchain predecessors, the company said. In addition to supporting scalability, payment solutions on Flow provide a much needed ease of use for credit cards as well as cryptocurrency, and can keep customers safe from the fraud or theft common in cryptocurrency systems. Flow enables NFT marketplaces and other decentralized applications that need to scale to handle mainstream demand without extremely high transaction costs (“gas fees”) or environmental concerns.
Joining the NBA, other cultural leaders currently building experiences on Flow include Warner Music Group, Ubisoft, Warner Media, and the UFC, as well as thousands of third party developers, artists, and other creators. Products already live on Flow mainnet include Viv3, an art marketplace where visual artist Ben Mauro instantly sold out of $2 million in collectible cards; Blocto, a leading non-custodial wallet solution; and MotoGP, which held its first sold out drop last week.
In 2018, Dapper Labs got its start with CryptoKitties, a collectible game where you breed and trade NFT kittens.
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