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With a $100 Million Round, OpenSea Becomes the Next Crypto Unicorn

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OpenSea, an NFT marketplace, has acquired $100 million in a Series B fundraising round headed by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), demonstrating that, despite declining user and transaction numbers, venture capitalists remain optimistic about the NFT industry’s future. NFTs are digital valuables that are minted and traded on a blockchain, such as paintings, trading cards, event tickets, and music.

In addition to returning investor a16z, new investors include investment management firm Coatue and Creative Artists Agency and celebrity investor Ashton Kutcher. Kevin Durant and Shawn Mendes are among the other investors.

OpenSea has been valued at $1.5 billion in the latest round, making it the crypto world’s newest unicorn. It follows a $23 million series that debuted in March 2021. A16z led a funding round. However, it is not the largest fundraising in the NFT business. Competitors Sorare and Dapper Labs raised $532 million and $305 million, respectively, in July and March.

Kathryn Haun, a general partner at Anderessen Horowitz, will join OpenSea’s board of directors. “The team at OpenSea saw the need for an open, cross-blockchain marketplace where anybody can buy, trade, and manufacture digital NFTs early on, which is why they are one of the most important crypto companies today,” says Haun. “We’re ecstatic to be doubling down on this team, their technology, and their overall mission as they continue to deliver the finest user experience for today’s creators, consumers, and sellers, all on one platform.”

The cash raised in OpenSea’s most recent round will be used to expand the company’s new cross-blockchain functionality, improve the user experience when more chains are added, and expand the team. Initially, OpenSea only enabled the minting, purchasing, and selling of NFTs on Ethereum, which is notorious for its high transaction costs and congestion. OpenSea is announcing support for the Ethereum scaling platform Polygon and the Klaytn blockchain as part of today’s announcement, with plans to expand to Flow and Tezos in the future.

CEO Devin Finzer said, “What we’ve seen over the last six months is just a ton of excitement around a new space from across the board from, you know, consumers getting curious, from artists, celebrities, to game developers, to engineers, everyone is really rallying around this, you know, it sounds a little cheesy, but we do see it as sort of a brand new internet. The time is right to go all in and try to make a major difference in people’s lives. But, in the end, what it comes down to for us is allowing actual economies to flourish on the internet that isn’t absolutely walled off ecosystems.”

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MonkeyBall, a Play-to-earn NFC Game Based in Solana, has Raised $3 Million

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MonkeyBall, a crypto business developing a Solana-based play-to-earn NFT game, has raised $3 million in a seed round.

Jump Capital, CMS Holdings, Solana Capital, 6th Man Ventures, and NFX were among the investors who participated in the round.

The investment was also sponsored by angel investors such as billionaire Shalom Meckenzie, one of the top shareholders in sports betting firm DraftKings; Yoni Assia, co-founder of eToro; Nimrod Lehavi, co-founder of Simplex; and Shahaf Bar-Geffen, CEO of crypto payments startup COTI. Bar-Geffen will also serve as the chairman of MonkeyBall.

The founders and core crew of MonkeyBall are Israeli, according to Bar-Geffen. According to Bar-Geffen, the startup currently has 17 employees and is looking to hire more with the new funding.

MonkeyBall is developing a non-traditional soccer game that will reward both players and spectators. According to MonkeyBall, the game can be defined as “a cross between FIFA Street and Final Fantasy.” MonkeyBucks ($MBS) tokens will be earned by winning or attending other people’s games.

The space, according to NFX general partner Gigi Levy-Weiss, will only continue to grow. “The teams that combine the finest of blockchain know-how with exceptional game-design capabilities, that know how to leverage and connect the best of both Blockchain and ‘conventional’ gaming sectors, will be the victors,” he stated. “We’ve seen a lot of these, but MonkeyBall is the greatest!”

Unity Technologies’ engine is being used to create the game, which will be available on both desktop and mobile platforms. It will be released “around Christmas,” according to Bar-Geffen.

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Candy Digital, a Fanatics Sports NFT Studio, Raises $100 Million and is Valued at $1.5 Billion

The official NFT partner of Major League Baseball receives a substantial valuation, which includes a contribution from Peyton Manning.

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In June, candy Digital debuted as Major League Baseball’s official NFT partner, swinging for the fences with officially sanctioned MLB crypto collectibles. The Fanatics-owned studio has now raised a significant amount of money to continue expanding in the NFT industry.

Candy Digital has raised a $100 million Series A fundraising round, valuing the company at $1.5 billion, the company stated today. Candy Digital was co-founded by Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, Galaxy Digital founder and CEO Mike Novogratz, investor and NFT entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, and is majority-owned by Fanatics.

Connect Ventures, an investment alliance between Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and Will Ventures, Gaingels, and Athletes Syndicate associated with Chaos Ventures co-led the financing with Insight Partners and Softbank’s Vision Fund 2.

Peyton Manning, a retired NFL quarterback, and other undisclosed notable players have also invested in Candy Digital. Candy Digital intends to use the funding to grow its personnel as its NFT business grows. Candy Digital has agreements with the Race Team Alliance (RTA), which represents 13 NASCAR teams, as well as several college athletes, in addition to MLB and the MLB Players Association.

An NFT functions as a blockchain-backed deed of ownership for a valuable digital asset, such as an illustration, video file, or something else entirely. So far in 2021, the market for NFTs has exploded, with $10.67 billion in trading activity in the third quarter.

Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot platform, which has produced more than $750 million in secondary trade volume to date, has been one of the significant parts of the developing NFT business. Dapper is also working on NFT marketplaces for the NFL and LaLiga. At the same time, Tom Brady’s Autograph NFT platform contains collectibles from several well-known athletes, including Tiger Woods and Simone Biles.

Candy Digital is now focusing on building its Major League Baseball NFT ecosystem, which mints its NFTs on Palm, an Ethereum sidechain. It just added a daily MLB Play of the Day collectible, as well as a new marketplace where players may purchase and sell NFTs.

Next week, Candy will release digital packs of MLB Icon souvenirs, which will feature video footage of a famous baseball player in a trading card-like form, akin to NBA Top Shot moments. More MLB NFT products will be released in the following weeks, including memorabilia based on the upcoming World Series.

In addition to Candy Digital, Fanatics has a new trading card firm that has already been valued at $10.4 billion after a $350 million fundraising round. Fanatics Trading Cards snatched sports licenses from established competitors such as Topps and Panini, promising the leagues and their respective players’ associations shares in the new enterprise.

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Animoca, a Hong Kong-based Blockchain Game Developer, has Reached a Valuation of $2.2 Billion

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Animoca Brands, a Hong Kong-based blockchain game developer and non-fungible token investor, has raised $2.2 billion in new funding from investors, including Ubisoft Entertainment of France and Sequoia China.

On Wednesday, Animoca said that it had secured $65 million in a round that comprised Liberty City Ventures, Dragonfly Capital, and Jack Ma’s apprentice Justin Sun, the founder of cryptocurrency platform Tron, among others. Animoca had already secured $88.9 million in a capital round in May, giving the seven-year-old firm unicorn status.

The company is known for its play-to-earn blockchain games, which allow players to collect and exchange NFTs on its platforms. An NFT is a blockchain-based digital asset that determines the ownership of art, music, films, and in-game stuff. The Sandbox, akin to the world-building computer game Minecraft, is one of Animoca’s most popular titles. Lands, wearables, and equipment are among the in-game assets that players can build and commercialize in The Sandbox.

The new funds will be used to fund strategic initiatives, acquisitions, product development, and intellectual property licenses, according to Animoca. In a statement, Yat Siu, co-founder and chairman of Animoca said, “The future is already here. With the support of our new strategic investors, Animoca Brands will continue to expand blockchain in gaming—and beyond—to provide true digital ownership to billions of gamers and internet users.”

The company’s most recent fundraising round exemplifies NFTs’ quickly expanding appeal. According to DappRadar industry analysis, trading volume for the tokens increased by 704% to $10.7 billion in the third quarter, compared to the previous quarter. In addition, billionaire Elon Musk has joined the bandwagon by selling a song as an NFT, and celebrities and athletes like Lindsay Lohan and Lionel Messi have started their own NFT collections. However, skeptics argue the nascent industry is already looking inflated, citing the red-hot space.

Animoca began as a spinoff in 2014, creating games for smartphones and tablets, some of which used cartoon characters such as Garfield and Doraemon. The company initially dabbled in blockchain games in 2017 and has since developed a slew of blockbusters, including a Formula 1-licensed play-to-earn racing game.

Animoca has also made investments in blockchain startups specializing in NFT-related businesses. DappRadar’s portfolio includes Dapper Labs, the company behind the groundbreaking blockchain game CryptoKitties, Sky Mavis, the creator of the global sensation Axie Infinity, and OpenSea, the largest marketplace for NFTs.

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