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Mark Cuban Joins Axie Infinity’s $7.5 Million Ethereum NFT Fundraise

The NFT-driven monster-battling game has seen a recent increase in popularity, and it now has funding and celebrity backers to help it grow even more.

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Sky Mavis, a developer of Ethereum-based Pokémon and Tamagotchi-inspired monster collecting and battling game Axie Infinity, revealed today that it has raised a $7.5 million Series A funding round.

Sky Mavis has not only raised a large sum of money to grow and scale the game, which has seen increased player and trading activity in recent months, but the developer has also courted some big celebrity investors. Mark Cuban, a billionaire investor and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is at the top of the list, as is Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and founder of venture capital company Seven Seven Six.

The Series A round was led by Libertus Capital, with the DeFi Alliance and a long list of other investors including crypto investment fund Collab + Currency, crypto game publisher Animoca Brands, BlockTower Capital, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, and others.

“I believe Axie is a fantastic platform. It’s entertaining and engaging,” said Mark Cuban. “It’s a game you want to play for hours on end. When you combine the Axie economy with it, you have something truly unique. I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”

The “play-to-earn” model of Axie Infinity rewards players for putting time and resources into the game, which involves breeding and fighting cartoonish monsters. According to the studio, the game has over 41,000 regular active users, with over 45,000 people owning Axie monsters, and the game’s monthly NFT trading volume has recently surpassed $15 million.

Although artwork, video clips, and trading cards have been among the most prominent NFTs during the recent boom—which saw a total trading volume of $1.5 billion in Q1 2021 (via DappRadar)—in-game goods have also seen a rise in value and attention.

Axie Infinity has created headline-grabbing, high-value NFT item sales in recent months, alongside blockchain-driven games like Sorare and The Sandbox. In February, for example, a group of nine plots of in-game Axie Infinity land sold for $1.5 million in Ethereum (ETH). Sky Mavis had previously earned $860,000 via the selling of its AXS governance token in November.

As Axie Infinity rises, Sky Mavis aims to use this new Series A funding to lower the barrier to entry, with the game’s newly released Ronin Ethereum sidechain helping to reduce fees. To make Axie Infinity “more interesting,” the studio is expanding its staff and recruiting seasoned developers from the conventional game world, and it hopes to scale the play-to-earn model with the help of advertisers and sponsors.

Ubisoft, which sponsored Sky Mavis through its Entrepreneurs Lab accelerator program and recently acted as a validator for the Ronin sidechain, was already a high-profile sponsor for Axie Infinity. With NFT enthusiast (and Dogecoin supporter) Mark Cuban, as well as Ohanian and a slew of other prominent investors, this leading Ethereum experience could soon reach a far wider audience.

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The NFT Sale of the ‘Kia Sedona’ Goes Sour as the Contractor Allegedly Steals $3 Million

A sale of tokens that could be swapped for “Kia Sedona” NFTs raised $3.1 million. But a contractor for the token sale platform Miso allegedly disappeared with all of the funds.

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In the fast-growing market for NFTs, there have been several swindles, frauds, and rug pulls. However, this one strikes out as a little odd.

To begin with, the NFT sale itself was unusual. The entire concept was inspired by a recent meme on crypto Twitter about the Kia Sedona automobile brand (the joke being that the Kia Sedona is a type of hard money). As a result, ten unknown persons built a funky website called “Jay Pegs Auto Mart.” (It was unrelated to the automobile maker in any way.)

DONA reservation tokens were available for purchase. These could be acquired on SushiSwap’s Miso token sale platform, which is run by a decentralized exchange. Out of 10,000 DONA tokens available, each could be exchanged for one 2007 Kia Sedona NFT.

And the token sale went off without a hitch. It raised $3.1 million in ether (ETH), worth 864.8. When the mysterious team of shadowy super coders (another joke) decided to use Miso, they didn’t expect all of their finances to be taken away.

An unidentified contractor placed malicious code into the Miso platform, according to SushiSwap CTO Joseph Delong, changing the destination address for all incoming monies in the token sale to their address. According to Delong, the Jay Pegs Auto Mart sale was the only one affected, and all of the cash raised was stolen.

SushiSwap has urged Binance and FTX to identify the hacker by revealing their KYC information, but they have not done so, according to Delong. He added the platform had directed Stephen Palley, a partner at law firm Anderson Kill, to file a complaint with the FBI if the funds aren’t recovered by 8 a.m. ET.

On the good side, the Jay Pegs Auto Mart Twitter account promised consumers that the Kia Sedona NFTs would still be distributed despite the lack of funds.

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SLAM, a Basketball Brand, Joins the NFT Platform Autograph

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Autograph has taken over the world of sports NFTs. Autograph, co-founded by future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, has signed deals with renowned athletes from various sports. In addition, the platform is teaming up with SLAM this week on the hardwood.

SLAM has streamlined its company into a new digital era and is known for its classic vintage magazine covers dating to 1994. Basketball enthusiasts may get news, unique features, digital material, and apparel through the portal. Without dipping into NFTs, it wouldn’t be complete.

Autograph and Its High-End Partners

Autograph has signed deals with Naomi Osaka, Derek Jeter, Simone Biles, and Tony Hawk in a short period. Top-tier athletes from many sports verticals make up the increasing advisory board. Additionally, autograph just partnered with DraftKings to give the sports betting platform access to NFTs.

According to a press statement issued this week, autograph will be a launch partner for SLAM’s NFT collection of classic magazine covers. Additionally, this will be Autograph’s first foray into basketball, with SLAM serving as a cornerstone for the platform’s introduction into the sport.

SLAM archives of the 300-plus covers that graced the front of SLAM for decades will be featured at NFTs. In addition, the NFTs will be available for purchase on the DraftKings Marketplace, which Autograph powers.

Blockchain Technology Meets Sports Media

Sports and technology are becoming increasingly entwined.

“We’ve been building a portfolio of companies focused on the convergence of sports media and blockchain technology, and this deal sits firmly at that crossroads,” said Matt Aronson, President of SLAM parent company JDS Sports. SLAM’s digital presence has grown to include over twenty social media channels with over 16 million followers. JDS Sports was also an early supporter of Autograph.

Through established partners, Autograph continues to push the fold on sports NFTs. The two have already issued NFTs for Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, Simone Biles, and others through DraftKings Marketplace. Autograph, on the other hand, isn’t content to stop at sports. The platform also announced a relationship with Lionsgate in July. In addition, Autograph will develop digital collectibles for the new flagship movie series later this year due to the agreement.

It appears that SLAM isn’t starting or stopping here, either. In April, SLAM teamed up with rising basketball phenom Zion Williamson. This collaboration resulted in four limited-edition NFTs based on two of Zion’s SLAM cover appearances.

As brands, companies, teams, leagues, and individuals from practically every sport imaginable get involved, the convergence of sports and crypto continues to increase.

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Following Allegations of NFT Insider Trading, OpenSea’s Head of Product has Resigned

After being accused of NFT flipping using insider knowledge, Nate Chastain, Head of Product at prominent NFT marketplace OpenSea, appears to have left the company.

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The Product Manager has resigned

Chastain’s Twitter profile has been altered to add the term “Past: @opensea” since he was called out two days ago, implying that the marketplace no longer employs him.

Though there isn’t proof that he was fired from OpenSea because of the allegations, it’s a strong possibility.

OpenSea CEO Devin Finzer has already updated his previous blog post about the event with the news that one of their employees “asked and accepted” his resignation just yesterday for violating their “duty to the community.”

According to the CEO’s update, OpenSea promptly commissioned a third-party investigation after learning of the event and is aggressively adopting its recommendations while the inquiry is ongoing.

Despite growing evidence against him, Nate Chastain has yet to issue a public statement. Meanwhile, the general belief on Twitter seems to be that he is guilty, with some even ‘celebrating his death’ with a fresh CryptoPhunk giveaway. However, despite Chastain’s misconduct, others express gratitude for his work for the NFT community and wish him the best in the future.

The Allegations and the Proof

Nate Chastain was accused of buying OpenSea NFTs with insider information before they were released on the platform’s site, then selling them for a much higher profit.

Chastain purchased the NFTs using burner accounts to conceal his identity; nevertheless, he was detected utilizing blockchain data, which proved that all of his winnings were being transmitted to his public address. Later, OpenSea published a blog post indicating that this “insider trade” had occurred.

Chastain made a profit of 19 ETH, which is worth more than $65k at press time.

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