Today Dapper Labs announced it raised $305 million in funding following its success in rolling out the NBA TopShot nonfungible (NFT) token app. After launching six months ago, with a modest performance during the first three months, the NBA TopShot app started to take off in January and has now passed $400 million in NFT sales and re-sales. We did a deep dive into the business when it hit the $100 million milestone.
According to USA Today, the funding round valued the startup at $2.6 billion.
The lead investor is Coatue, with Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant and numerous other basketball players participating alongside actors Ashton Kutcher and Will Smith. Other existing investors joining the round include a16z and Union Square Ventures.
NBA TopShot issues packs of Moments – often five of them – which are video clips of basketball plays with animations. Much like physical card collectibles, users won’t know what’s in the pack before they open it. Each Moment has a nonfungible token (NFT), which is unique to that specific Moment and can be resold in the marketplace.
‘We want to bring the same magic to other sports leagues as well as help other entertainment studios and independent creators find their own approaches in exploring open platforms,” said Roham Gharegozlou, CEO of Dapper Labs.
So far the game has 800,000 registered accounts and more than 338,000 customers with at least one NFT.
“NBA Top Shot is one of the best demonstrations we’ve seen of how quickly new technology can change the landscape for media and sports fans,” said Kevin Durant, who is involved through his company Thirty Five Ventures. “We’re excited to follow the progress with everything happening on Flow blockchain.”
The company didn’t just create the app. It also developed an entire blockchain, Flow. That’s in part driven by the unique requirements of collectibles and games, and also because of its experience on Ethereum when its CryptoKitties game brought the blockchain to a standstill. On top of that, it set out to create a wallet that could work for mainstream users as opposed to cryptocurrency geeks.
Major organizations developing applications on Flow include Warner Music Group, Ubisoft, Warner Media, and the UFC.
One of the investors Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, commented about the Dapper Labs team that “It is rare in the crypto sector to find a team that has successfully launched a blockchain, a wallet, and a number of popular applications. The Dapper team has done all of that and I am excited to watch what they do next.”
The complete list of investors is:
Coatue, Michael Jordan, 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, 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. Other strategics participating include a16z, The Chernin Group, USV, Version One, and Venrock.
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.