Google and Samsung: Cute Cats Power Serious $15 Million CryptoKitties Round
The company behind the viral blockchain phenomenon CryptoKitties is planning to enhance its platform – and it's received backing from some major tech firms to do it.
Announced Wednesday, Dapper Labs, the startup that spun out of parent firm Axiom Zen to continue working on CryptoKitties, has secured $15 million in funding. The round was led by Venrock and was joined by Google Ventures, SamsungNEXT and Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), as well as names not normally associated with venture investing, such as the talent agency William Morris Endeavor and e-sports firm aXiomatic.
The new funding comes months after Dapper Labs secured $12 million in a round led by a16z and Union Square Ventures.
In an interview with CoinDesk, Venrock partner David Pakman struck a bullish tone on what he sees as a massive collectibles market being created in the digital world.
"For the first time we can make scarce digital items, and I think that can usher in a mega-market of digital collectibles," Packman argued.
While Venrock is not known as a
blockchain or crypto-focused investment company, Pakman sees CryptoKitties as a specific case wherein blockchain can allow people to do something online that so far they have only done offline: collect rare (or scarce) things.
"I look for activities that consumers are already doing in very large numbers and then look for the digital equivalent," he explained.
No stranger to digital intellectual property, prior to Venrock, Pakman led eMusic, a pioneering company in digital music sales. Dieter Shirley – Dapper's chief technical officer and the author of the ERC-721
token standard on which the crypto collectable economy operates – said that his startup was especially happy to work with Pakman as it needed guidance as it looks to grow from a small startup team to a much larger company.
With $27 million in new funding so far this year, all signs point to Dapper Labs being on the cusp of a new release.
Shirley declined to give any details about what's to come, but he did say something should come in the next weeks – not months. To that end, the company has put up a teaser page on its website, and one of their engineers shared it in the stream of tweets surrounding Devcon, the
ethereum developers conference taking place in Prague right now.
With a possible eye to the future, Shirley said that originally run CryptoKitties would no longer be regularly released at the end of November.
Indeed, he indicated that the company is looking to leverage its latest funding round to build interesting new experiences for users of decentralized apps.
"Ultimately, our mission here is to bring a billion people to the blockchain. We think blockchain has real value for consumers but we're never going to get them to see that value by explaining it."