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Another part of the blockchain economy takes off

February 24, 2021, 3:31 PM UTC

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As interest in cryptocurrencies soars once again, keep an eye on non-fungible tokens. In the simplest terms, NFTs are collectibles that are inscribed on a permanent, tamper-proof blockchain, thereby weeding out potential counterfeits. They are also limited—a fact that has attracted the treasure hunters and completionists. 

Late Wednesday, NBA Top Shot, a blockchain-based platform for buying and selling videos of player highlights like trading cards, soared past $219.6 million in total volume, becoming the most-transacted crypto collectible after going live some six months ago. One single moment of Lebron James making a dunk sold for $208,000—no small change.

As the New York Times succinctly explains in a recent story, while collectibles have long been a sizable economy with consumers happy to shell out money for baseball cards, Birkin Bags, or fine art, the trend has been harder to copy in the digital realm where goods are easily shared and stolen. Blockchain-based businesses hope to change that with non-fungible tokens.

Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou, which partnered with the NBA to create the collectibles, told Fortune when announcing the partnership: “The community that will bring about a mainstream moment for blockchain is the NBA… It will be a new type of digital collection experience.”

Certainly it and NFTs in general are having that mainstream moment. Aside from just NBA Top Shot, auction house Christie’s said it would become the first major auction house to sell NFT-based artwork last week. Creators have also caught on to NFTs in the hopes of cutting out the middlemen by issuing their own tokens, with YouTuber Logan Paul raising millions through his sale.

It’s not the first time NFTs have come into the public eye. The developers of NBA Top Shot may sound familiar to you: Dapper Labs was also responsible for Crypto Kitties, a digital cat exchange that rose to prominence amid the crypto wave of 2017. The company is now reportedly raising $250 million in new funding at a $2 billion valuation, led by Coatue.

Part of this trend is likely a result of boredom: You’re stuck at home with little to do aside from going on the internet. So you trade—a lot. It might be on Robinhood if you’re conventional, or maybe, if you feel adventurous enough, you may even dabble in the trading of fractional shares of a Pablo Picasso or a Ferrari race car. Or, perhaps in this case, in crypto and non-fungible tokens. 

Will trading in non-fungible tokens remain in the mainstream? Interest in crypto could slow again. But for now, I have no doubt many more projects around NFTs will pop up in coming months. There will be successes—and there will also be no shortage of scams.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda
Email: lucinda.shen@fortune.com

VENTURE DEALS

- Klarna Bank, the Swedish buy-now-pay-later fintech, is raising between $800 million to $1 billion in funding that could value it around $31 billion, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Clover Biopharmaceuticals, a Chengdu, China-based biotech focused on vaccines and therapeutics for debilitating diseases, raised $230 million in Series C funding. GL Ventures and Temasek led the round and was joined by investors including Oceanpine Capital, OrbiMed, and Delos Capital.

- Reddit, a San Francisco-based social media company, raised an additional $116 million of a planned $500 million.

- Truvian Sciences, a San Diego-based maker of a blood testing system, raised $105 million in Series C funding. Investors included TYH Ventures, Glen Tullman of 7wireVentures, and Wittington Ventures

- Orna Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechnology company focused on circular RNA therapeutics, raised $100 million up to its Series A. MPM Capital, Taiho Ventures, and F2 Ventures led the round.

- Xilio Therapeutics, a Waltham, Mass.-based biotech developing tumor-selective immunotherapies, raised $95 million in Series C funding. Rock Springs Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Bain Capital Life Sciences, Deerfield Management Company, and RA Capital Management.

- RecargaPay, a Miami-based payments fintech focused on Brazil, raised $70 million in Series C funding. IDC Ventures and Fuel Venture Capital led the round and was joined by investors including ATW, LUN Partners, and Experian.

- PerimeterX, a San Mateo, Calif.-based provider of cybersecurity solutions for web apps, raised $57 million. AllianceBernstein led the round and was joined by investors including Stereo Capital, JS Capital, and Golden Arc Capital.

- Bitwise Industries, a Fresno, Calif.-based company seeking to bring more underserved communities into tech, raised $50 million in Series B funding. Kapor Capital led the round and was joined by investors including JPMorgan Chase, Motley Fool Ventures, and ProMedica.

- Shippo, a San Francisco-based shipping platform for small-to-medium-sized businesses, raised $45 million. D1 Capital led the round.

- AnchorDx Medical, a Guangzhou, China-based developer of early cancer detection products, raised $40 million in Series C funding. OrbiMed and WuXi Huiying Investment led the round.

- Codecademy, a New York-based online learning platform, raised $40 million in Series D funding. Owl Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Union Square Ventures and Prosus

- Blueshift, a San Francisco-based maker of a customer data platform, raised today announced $30 million in Series C funding. Fort Ross Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Avatar Growth Capital, SoftBank Ventures Asia, Storm Ventures, Conductive Ventures, and Nexus Venture Partners.

- Evisort, a San Mateo, Calif.-based contract management platform using A.I., raised $35 million in Series B funding. General Atlantic led the round and was joined by investors including Amity Ventures, M12, and Vertex Ventures. 

- Teon Therapeutics, a San Francisco, Calif.-based biopharmaceutical company developing treatments for cancer, raised $30 million in Series A funding. Oceanpine Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Oriza Ventures, Lifespan Investments, Northern Light Venture Capital, Kaitai Capital, and Oriental Fortune Capital.

- NIL Technology, a Copenhagen-based maker of optical sensing tech, raised €26 million ($31 million). Jolt Capital, NGP Capital and Vækstfonden led the round and were joined by EIC Fund.

- Symbio Robotics, an Emeryville, Calif.-based industrial robotics company, raised $30 million. ACME Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Eclipse Ventures, and The House Fund.

- Burrow, a New York-based maker of home furniture, raised $25 million in Series C funding. Parkway Venture Capital led the round and was joined by investors including NEA, Red & Blue Ventures, Winklevoss Capital, and Michael Seibel. 

- Gettacar, a Philadelphia-based online car buying startup, raised $25 million. 3L and Luxor Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Torch Capital

- EarnUp, a San Francisco-based mortgage payments platform, raised $25 million in Series B funding. Bain Capital Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including SignalFire, Blumberg Capital, and Flourish Ventures.

- Hubilo, a San Francisco-based virtual and hybrid events platform, raised $23.5 million in Series A funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners and Balderton Capital led the round.

- Saltmine, a San Francisco-based platform for office space planning, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Investors included  JLL Spark, Jungle Ventures, and Xplorer Capital.

- Wisetack, a San Francisco-based buy-now-pay-later startup, raised $19 million in seed and Series A funding. Greylock led the rounds. Read more.

- Bottlepay, a U.K.-based fiat and crypto payments app, raised £11 million ($15 million) in seed funding. Investors included Alan Howard, FinTech Collective, NYDIG, and tech entrepreneur Phil Doye.

- Contra, a maker of a professional network for independent work, raised $14.5 million in Series A funding. Unusual Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Cowboy Ventures and Atelier Ventures

- Impact Analytics, a Los Angeles, Calif.-based provider of software for planning and merchandising in the retail industry, raised $11 million from Argentum.

- Zelros, a French insurance startup using A.I., raised $11 Million in Series A funding. BGV led the round and was joined by investors including ISAI Cap Venture and Plug and Play

- Sunroom Rentals, an Austin-based real estate software startup, raised $11 million in Series A funding. Gigafund led the round.

- Mosa Meat, a Netherlands-based company with a cultivated beef hamburger, raised $10 million in its final close of its Series B round. Investors included Nutreco and Jitse Groen (CEO of Just Eat Takeaway.com). 

- CGTrader, a Lithuanian 3D printing company,  raised $9.5 million in a Series B funding. Evli Growth Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Karma Ventures and LVV Group. Read more.

- Jumpstart, a San Francisco-based recruiting platform focused on diversity, raised $8.5 million in Series A funding. Sequoia Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Michael Lynton (chairman of Snap). Read more.

- Prophecy.io, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based maker of a data engineering platform, raised $6 million. SignalFire led the round and was joined by investors including Ross Mason (founder of Mulesoft).

- OpsCruise, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based cloud application observability company, raised $5 million in seed funding. The Fabric led the round and was joined by investors including First Rays Venture Partners, Impact Ventures, The Band of Angels, and TiE Silicon Valley.

- ErudiFi, a Singaporean startup focused on student financing, raised $5 million in Series A funding. Monk’s Hill Ventures and Qualgro led the round. Read more.

- ZenHub, a San Francisco-based maker of project management tools for development teams, raised $4.7 million in seed funding. Investors included BDC Capital and Ripple Ventures. Read more.

- Bloom Biorenewables, a Swiss startup developing products designed to substitute fossil-sourced carbon in materials and fuels, raised €3.9 million ($4.7 million). Breakthrough Energy Ventures-Europe led the round.

- Easol, a Hamburg-based commerce platform, raised $4.5 million in seed funding. Notion Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Y Combinator, Foundation Capital, Slow Ventures, and Micheal Zeisser (former Chairman of U.S. investments at Alibaba).

- Koffie Labs, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based insurtech company focused on trucking and transportation, raised $4.5 million. Anthemis Group and Lerer Hippeau led the rounds and were joined by investors including 2048 Ventures, Plug and Play Ventures, and C2 Ventures.

- FloorFound, an Austin-based software platform for the return and resale of oversized products, raised $4 million in seed funding. LiveOak Venture Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Flybridge Capital, Next Coast Ventures, and 8VC. Schematic Ventures also participated.

- Kleeen, a San Jose, Calif.-based firm focused on user interface design, raised $3.8 million in seed funding. First Ray Venture Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Leslie Ventures, Silicon Valley Data Capital, WestWave Capital, Neotribe Ventures, and AI Fund. Read more.

- First Resonance, a Los Angeles-based maker of a factory operating system, raised $3.5 million in additional seed funding. Blue Bear Capital led the round.

- Maple, a maker of an app for tracking and coordinating parenting tasks, raised $3.5 million in seed funding. Inspired Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Box Group. Read more.

- ChekMarc, a New York-based social platform, raised $3 million in funding from investors including CEO Marc Kaplan.

- Ellipsis Drive, a Netherlands-based provider of solutions for buying and selling spatial data, raised $2.3 million in seed funding. Promus Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Orbital Ventures and Techstars.

- BebopBee, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based game development studio, raised $2 million. Investors included BITKRAFT Ventures, 1Up Ventures, and IGG.

- Thingtesting, a brand discovery and recommendations site, raised $2 million in seed funding from Forerunner Ventures.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Abry Partners invested in Kingland Systems, a Clear Lake, Ia.-based provider of enterprise data software. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Buildout, backed by The Riverside Company, acquired Rethink, an Austin-based provider of commercial real estate deal-making tech. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Buildertrend, backed by Bain Capital Tech Opportunities and HGGC, acquired CoConstruct, a Charlottesville, Va.-based provider of construction project management software for the residential construction industry. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Computer Design & Integration, a portfolio company of One Equity Partners, acquired Kintyre Solutions, a Wilmington, De.-based system integrator. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- CVC Capital Partners is weighing a bid for Synthomer (LON: SYNT), a U.K.-based chemicals company, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- LLR Partners invested in Salute Mission Critical, a Clinton Township, Mi.-based provider of data center services focused on recruiting veterans. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- NovaQuest Private Equity invested in Pro-ficiency, a Durham, N.C.-based provider of virtual training and compliance solutions for clinical trial investigators and site staff. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- SteriPack Group, a portfolio company of Great Point Partners, acquired HS Design, a Morristown, N.J.-based healthcare product development firm. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- TPG is nearing a deal to acquire a significant stake in DirecTV, an El Segundo, Calif.-based broadcast satellite company, from AT&T (NYSE: T) in a deal that could value the firm at about $15 billion, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Yellow Wood Partners agreed to acquire the Scholl footcare brand, which operates outside of the Americas, from U.K.-based Reckitt Benckiser Group.  The acquisition will reunite Scholl with the Dr. Scholl’s brand. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

EXIT

- Autodesk (Nasdaq: ADSK) agreed to acquire Innovyze, a Portland, Ore.-based maker of water infrastructure software, for an enterprise value of about $1 billion. EQT was the seller.

- CVC Capital Partners agreed to acquire a majority interest in MedRisk, a King of Prussia, Pa.-based provider of managed physical medicine services for the workers’ compensation industry. The Carlyle Group, MedRisk’s current majority owner, will retain a significant stake and maintain joint control.

- Pan Pacific International Holdings (TSE1:7532) agreed to acquire Gelson’s Markets, an Encino Calif.-based supermarket chain, from TPG Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

-  ZASH Global Media and Entertainment acquired Lomotif Private, a Singapore-based video-sharing social network competing with TikTok. Lomotif investors include China Creative Ventures. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHER

- Estee Lauder offered to take a 76% controlling stake in DECIEM Beauty Group, the Canada-based maker of the Ordinary skincare brand, for about $1 billion. Estee Lauder currently holds a 29% stake.

IPO

- The Duckhorn Portfolio, a Napa Valley, Calif.-based maker of luxury wine, filed to raise $100 million. TSG backs the firm. Read more.

- Oatly, a Swedish oat milk company, has filed confidentially for an IPO in the U.S. Blackstone backs the business.

- Tuhu, the Chinese car maintenance startup, is considering a U.S. IPO this year, per Reuters. Its investors include Tencent and Sequoia Capital China. Read more.

SPAC

- ReNew Power, an Indian renewable energy company, agreed to go public with RMG Acquisition II, valuing the business at $8 billion in enterprise value.

- Joby Aviation, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based maker of an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing aircraft, will go public via merger with Reinvent Technology Partners, a SPAC backed in part by Reid Hoffman. The deal values the firm at about $6.6 billion.

- Berkshire Grey, a developer of robotic solutions for e-commerce, will go public via merger with Revolution Acceleration Acquisition, valuing the business up to $2.7 billion.

- Markforged, a Watertown, Mass.-based creator of an integrated metal and carbon fiber additive manufacturing platform, agreed to merge with one, a SPAC led by Kevin Hartz. A deal values the firm at $2.1 billion.

- Guggenheim Special Purpose Acquisition I, a SPAC from Guggenheim Partners seeking a target in the financial services sector, filed to raise $500 million.

- Leo Holdings IV, a SPAC from Lion Capital executives targeting consumer businesses, filed to raise $300 million. 

- GX Acquisition II, a SPAC by leaders of Trimaran Capital Partners, filed to raise $300 million.

- Graf Acquisition III, a blank check company from former TC Capital Managing Partner James Graf, filed to raise $300 million.

- Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital II, a SPAC by a founding partner of Colle Capital Partners and Agility Logistics targeting a sustainable business, filed to raise $300 million. 

- Khosla Ventures Acquisition IV, a SPAC formed by Khosla Ventures, filed to raise $200 million.

F+FS

- Blackstone Group, the New York-based investing firm, is seeking to raise about $15 billion for two private equity secondaries funds. Read more.

- Oak HC/FT, a venture firm, raised $1.4 billion for its most recent fund.

- Cowen Sustainable Investments, a New York-based private sustainability investment strategy,  raised $919 million for its inaugural fund.

- Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is planning to launch an investment fund to invest in sectors including entertainment and financial services, per the Washington Post. It will be backed by sovereign wealth funds in the Persian Gulf. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Read more.

- Primary Venture Partners, a New York City-based venture firm focused on investing in New York City, raised $150 million for its third fund. It also raised $50 million for its second Select fund.

PEOPLE

- Flourish Ventures promoted Sarah Morgenstern (based in D.C.) and Ameya Upadhyay (based in London) to venture partner.