Since the beginning of the year, both the primary and secondary markets in the NFT and metaverse fields have seen a sharp recovery. According to CryptoSlam data, NFT sales in January 2023 reached $997.53, an increase of 41.96% from December 2022. Among them, the NFT market transaction volume on Ethereum is close to $600 million, an increase of 46.8%.
Not only that, the price of the utility and governance token HIGH of the metaverse project Highstreet has skyrocketed before, and the price of Createra Genesis Land, which is free minted by the metaverse project Createra led by a16z, also soared rapidly on the day of release, with an average price of 5 in a day. These are one of the strong proofs that the cryptocurrency industry will show signs of recovery in January 2023.
However, compared with the ups and downs since the new year, the frequent news of success at the beginning of last year is more memorable. The following will lead you to review the NFT and metaverse projects with a financing scale of hundreds of millions in 2022. These projects with large sums of money will undoubtedly have a longer life cycle and bring new creativity to the market.
Yuga Labs is a blockchain technology company that develops NFT and digital collectibles, focusing on blockchain, cryptocurrency, and digital media, and is one of the fastest-growing companies in the Web3 field. In April 2021, Yuga Labs launched the NFT series of Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) and started to make a fortune from this. In the same year, it successively launched Bored Ape Kennel Club and Mutant Ape Yacht Club series.
Looking back, 2022 is a year of rapid growth for Yuga Labs. Especially in March of that year, the official released several big news in a row: on March 11, it announced the acquisition of two blue-chip NFT projects, CryptoPunks and Meebits, under Larva Labs; on March 17, it announced ApeCoin is used as the main token; on the 18th, it announced the launch of the metaverse project Otherside; on the 22nd, it announced that it had raised $450 million in financing at a valuation of $4 billion. This round of financing was led by a16z, with participation from Animoca Brands and Sound Ventures. At the end of January this year, its co-founder Aronow announced at the end of January that he had withdrawn from the company’s daily operations due to health problems.
On January 19, the star project BAYC launched the foundry game, Dookey Dash. According to data from Dune Analytics, Yuga Labs has earned 120,000 APE (approximately $660,000) in just one week since its launch. It was closed on September 9, and players spent nearly 145,000 APE on it. Following Dookey Dash, BAYC will launch a variety of activities in the future: “The Summoning” will be launched on February 15; “Lick the toad” (or new characters) will be launched at the end of February; Type A; the chapter “Crossing the Rift” was launched in early April; the “EVO 2 Journey” was launched in early May.
OpenSea is the largest digital market for encrypted collectibles and NFTs, where users can make, buy, sell, and auction NFTs, covering sports NFTs, virtual worlds, trading cards, decentralized domain names, digital collectibles, etc., as of January 31 It has over 2.58 million users daily. The company was launched in December 2017 by Devin Finzer and Alex Atallah. With the onset of the NFT boom in 2021, OpenSea ushered in explosive growth, with a sharp increase in the number of users and transaction volume, and completed three rounds of financing in less than a year:
In March 2021, OpenSea completed a $23 million Series A financing led by a16z; in July 2021, it completed a $100 million financing at a valuation of $1.5 billion in the B round of financing, and the leading investor was still a16z. In January 2019, it completed the C-round financing of $300 million with a post-investment valuation of $13.3 billion, led by Paradigm and CoatueManagement.
In 2022, all creators on OpenSea will collectively earn over $1 billion from the platform’s creator fees, which do not include sponsorship revenue, participation incentives, or grants. These revenues are generated directly from creator fees for reselling works and are instantly settled on-chain between buyers, sellers, and creators. OpenSea CEO said in an interview with the Financial Times that the NFT track is healthier than the overall encryption field, and NFT can also be denominated in US dollars in the future.
With the continuous development of NFT, the advantage of OpenSea, which was once the leader, no longer exists, and the NFT trading platform has emerged a situation of contention among a hundred schools of thought. To this end, OpenSea began to focus on new functions and product optimization to improve user experience.
Since the new year, the bulk NFT purchase function Sweep has been launched, allowing users to save gas costs; the NFT category page has been re-deployed, and game options have been added; the “Bulk listing action bar” has been launched and supports purchases based on ERC- The “alternative project” of the 1155 agreement; the “3-hour position protection period” mechanism was launched to reduce the risk of NFT theft; the project aggregation service based on the Seaport protocol was launched; OpenSea also announced the launch of the Private Beta Testing Program, allowing participants to Experience new features and help OpenSea stress test and find bugs.
Autograph is an NFT platform for stars and fans in sports, music, games and other cultural and entertainment fields. Launched in August 2021, it was co-founded by NFL legend Tom Brady and Internet entrepreneur Richard Rosenblatt.
The platform focuses on pop culture memorabilia and classic moments in sports history taps the fan base of specific sports stars and allows users to purchase videos and pictures signed by famous athletes, singers and other stars as digital assets. It is called “the future of fan circles.”
In January 2022, Autograph announced the completion of a $170 million Series B round of financing, led by a16z and venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, with participation from 01A and former a16z executive Katie Haun.
After this round of financing, Haun also joined the Autograph board of directors, along with Arianna Simpson, general partner of a16z, and Ilya Fushman, partner of Kleiner Perkins. In October 2022, Autograph co-founder Richard Rosenblatt became a senior advisor to a16z crypto, while former Autograph board member Sam Bankman-Fried was quickly fired with the support of a16z following the FTX thunderstorm.
At present, Autograph has cooperated with Tiger Woods, Simon Biles, Derek Jeter, Bolt, Tony Hawk, Naomi Osaka and other sports stars, as well as celebrities or well-known IPs such as singer The Weeknd and SLAM magazine. In addition, Autograph reached a multi-year agreement on NFT with sports media ESPN in April 2022, and the two parties also cooperated to release the first NFT series that month.
Brady, the co-founder of Autograph, announced his official retirement in early February this year. Brady, who focuses on his “new career,” in addition to using his network resources to attract more stars to the platform, Autograph also cooperates with the PGA Tour, which plans to launch a golf-focused NFT platform this year.
Genies is an avatar technology company founded in 2017. Genies provide tools (Genies Avatar Creator OS) that allow users to create their own avatars, wearable fashion items, avatar virtual worlds, and interactive experiences in web3.
In 2021, Genies successively established partnerships with Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group, becoming the “official avatar and digital product NFT provider,” such as the virtual avatars of Universal Music’s star artists Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Rihanna, Cardi B, etc. Both are developed and hosted by Genies.
In September 2022, Genies announced the launch of the Flow blockchain-based NFT fashion marketplace “The Warehouse,” a new platform connected to 3D cartoon avatars created by users in the Genies app equipped with masks, shoes, backpacks and other digital accessories.
Genies have a close cooperation with Dapper Labs. In addition to co-launching “The Warehouse,” Dapper Labs also participated in the investment in the $65 million Series B financing completed by Genies, as well as Coinbase Ventures and Hashkey.
In April 2022, Genies completed a financing of $150 million at a valuation of $1 billion. Silver Lake led the investment, Bond Capital, Breyer Capital, and New Enterprise Associates participated in the investment, and former Disney CEO Robert Iger participated in the investment and became a member of the board of directors. Late last year, 11:11 Media, owned by American socialite Paris Hilton, launched an avatar fashion collection on the avatar platform Genies.
Genies creative director Jake Becker believes:
“The next big fashion brand, designer, and influencer will be born from our tools through the form of virtual image ecosystem builder.”
Genies did not disclose its plan in 2023, and currently, we are looking for fashion bloggers with 2,000 or more followers on TikTok to promote their products and expand our influence.
Magic Eden is the NFT trading platform with the highest trading volume on the Solana chain. In addition to the NFT trading market, Magic Eden’s core products include Launchpad, Eden Games, Magic Ventures and Magic DAO. Among them, Launchpad provides convenience for creators and project parties, and is also a channel for users to discover high-quality assets.
Eden Games is a content center for game publishers, and the layout for the game to become the entrance for users to enter Web3 in advance. Magic Ventures is the venture capital department of Magic Eden, focusing on investing in the game sector. Magic DAO is a platform for exploring decentralized governance to make major decisions around the future of its market, and Magic Ticket holders will become members of Magic DAO by default.
In less than a year, Magic Eden has completed three rounds of financing. In February 2022, Magic Eden completed a financing of $27 million. The participating investors included Sequoia Capital, Paradigm, Greylock, etc. (now revised to $16.9 million); in June 2022, Magic Eden completed a financing of $130 million at a valuation of $1.6 billion Series B financing, led by Electric Capital and Greylock.
According to SEC documents, Tan Lu, CEO of Magic Eden, the Solana ecological NFT market, filed with the SEC on January 24 to complete a new round of financing, and the total amount raised in this round of financing $16.85 million.
In January this year, Magic Eden claimed that the bad pictures on the platform were caused by the image provider being hacked, but the platform was not attacked. In response to the problem of purchasing counterfeit NFT, it added more verification layers to solve it. In February, Magic Eden was updated for user experience, including simplified login, favorite page statistics, collector announcement, instant list, and feature count filtering.
In addition, Magic Eden has also launched a multi-chain plan to support Polygon-based game developers and has reached cooperation with several game companies or platforms, including BORA Games, Block Games, IntellaX, nWay, Boomland, Planet Mojo, and Taunt Battleworld.
Rario is the first cricket NFT platform with the largest share of the cricket NFT market in the world through exclusive cooperation with 6 international cricket leagues and more than 1,000 cricket players. Ankit Wadhwa, co-founder, and CEO of Rario, believes that cricket is the second largest sport in the world, with more than 1.5 billion fans worldwide, and NFT on its platform is creating new forms of engagement, allowing fans to own and trade digital collectibles.
In April 2022, Rario, a cricket NFT platform, completed a financing of $120 million. Dream Capital, a venture capital subsidiary of Indian sports technology company Dream Sports, led the investment, and Alpha Wave Global and Animoca Brands participated in the investment. In September of the same year, Rario cooperated with Dream Sports to launch the cricket strategy game D3.club, and those who have a Rario player card will be able to participate for free.
Additionally, Sachin Tendulkar nicknamed the “God of Cricket” and one of India’s most famous athletes has made his first foray into the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in partnership with digital collectibles= platform Rario. Tendulkar will be a strategic investor in Rario.
During cricket events in various countries and regions, Rario has launched D3.club game activities simultaneously. Currently, there are Pakistan T20 League matches and the Women’s T20 World Championship held in South Africa.
Stability AI is a community-driven open-source artificial intelligence art creation start-up company. It has developed open AI models for image, language, audio, video, etc.
Its developer community has more than 20,000 members. Stability AI’s projects include the AI image generation tool StableDiffusion, the Audio tool Harmonai, the biology and life science research tool OpenBioML, etc. Stable Diffusion is a text-to-picture generative model, and it is completely free and open source, and all codes are publicly available on GitHub. Stable Diffusion has been used in popular music videos, and Hollywood movies and is used by over 10 million people every day.
In October 2022, Stability AI announced the completion of a $101 million seed round of financing led by Coatue Management and Lightspeed Venture Partners. It is reported that this round of financing valued Stability AI at $1 billion. Additionally, Metaverse world-building platform Stageverse has integrated with Stable Diffusion to launch the world’s first AI-generated avatar fashion design tool.
Competition in the field of artificial intelligence is intensifying as companies such as OpenAI, Google, and Meta rapidly develop AI technology. In January, the company was hit with two separate lawsuits from image provider Getty Images and a group of artists. Obviously, Stability needs to solve copyright disputes in addition to continuously updating products and technologies in the AI competition, and how to treat any possible legal or moral risks may also determine the future of AI-generated art.
FanCraze is a platform for fans to collect, use and interact with cricket through NFT. It was co-founded by Wall Street veteran Anshum Bhambri and the founding operations director of the Indian Premier League. Its founding team has backgrounds in technology, sports, finance, and games. The mission is to build a metaverse for cricket.
In March 2022, FanCraze, a cricket NFT platform, completed a $100 million Series A round of financing led by Insight Partners, with participation from B Cpital, Mirae Financial, Tiger Global, Coatue Management, Courtside Ventures and Ronaldo’s CR7. Prior to this, FanCraze had cooperated with the International Cricket Council (ICC) at the beginning of the year to launch the video collection “Crictos,” which recorded cricket matches in the form of NFT, similar to Dapper’s NBA Top Shot.
The project is now on the Flow blockchain runs and will create archived moments that are over 50 years old. FanCraze focuses on official cooperation with various cricket leagues and their teams. This year, it has signed a contract to become the official digital collectible partner of SA20 (the new South African T20 cricket league), and has also cooperated with 12 English county cricket teams. The clubs have signed multi-year deals separately.
Pixel Vault is a web3-centric NFT company that focuses on developing various IP story series, aiming to allow collectors to participate in their NFT and build an ecosystem for collections. It has currently developed into the fields of sports, brands and games. Projects represented by the Pixel Vault team include PUNKS Comics, MetaHero Identities, and MetaHero Universe.
PUNKS Comics is an NFT comic featuring CryptoPunks characters, MetaHero Identities is a blockchain-based NFT collection of superheroes, villains, and mutants, and MetaHero Universe is a social and gaming platform. Adidas will launch its first NFT series at the end of 2021, and Pixel Vault founder GFunk participated in the cooperation of this project. In February 2022, Pixel Vault announced a $100 million investment from Velvet Sea Ventures and 01A.
Pixel Vault is working on PUNKS Comic Issue #4 with an expected release date of Q1 2023. PUNKS Comic Issue #4 will be released alongside a completely revamped punkscomic.com website, integrated into The Vault. Issues 5 and 6 will follow. There will be no fees for PUNKS Comic Issues 4-6.
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