Tech giants are betting on CryptoKitties.
Dapper Labs, a year-old Vancouver, B.C.-based startup behind the popular digital collectibles, today announced a $15 million round led by Venrock. GV, the late-stage venture capital arm of Google, and Samsung Next, the VC arm of Samsung, also participated.
CryptoKitties are digital cats that can be collected and breeded. They are purchased and traded on the Ethereum blockchain network. It is based on the idea of digital scarcity — a new take on trading and collecting baseball or Pokémon cards, for example. The New York Times described CryptoKitties as “digital Beanie Babies.”
The average price for a CryptoKitty is $60, but some people have paid $140,000 for one CryptoKitty. There have been more than 3.2 million transactions recorded to date and millions of dollars exchanged on the CryptoKitty platform.
“The evolution of true digital ownership and the interoperability of smart contracts creates new ways for consumers, creators, and platform providers to interact completely peer-to-peer, with no middlemen,” Roham Gharegozlou, CEO at Dapper Labs, said in a statement. “Our mission at Dapper Labs is to use games and entertainment to bring the values of decentralization to billions of consumers worldwide. This round of financing was about getting the right partners around the table to bring compelling content to the blockchain – and make sure usability and infrastructure allow for adoption by mainstream consumers.”
Many companies are investing in and building blockchain-related technology, which is the foundation of digital currencies such as bitcoin. Some are skeptical of cryptocurrencies gaining mass user adoption — top economists and folks such as Warren Buffett have their doubts about bitcoin, criticizing its anonymity and fluctuating value.
Dapper Labs will use the fresh funding to open a U.S. office in Los Angeles. Other backers include Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman; Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo; the Andreessen Horowitz Cultural Leadership Fund; eSports leader aXiomatic; Endeavor; CoinFund; Animoca Brands; Union Square Ventures; SV Angel; Digital Currency Group; William Mougayar; Hex Capital; and Rising Tide Fund. Total funding to date is $27.8 million.