Another part of the blockchain economy takes off
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.
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- 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.
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- 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.
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- 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.
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- Impact Analytics, a Los Angeles, Calif.-based provider of software for planning and merchandising in the retail industry, raised $11 million from Argentum.
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- 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.
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- 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.
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- 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.
- 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.
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- 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.
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- ReNew Power, an Indian renewable energy company, agreed to go public with RMG Acquisition II, valuing the business at $8 billion in enterprise value.
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- 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.
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- Guggenheim Special Purpose Acquisition I, a SPAC from Guggenheim Partners seeking a target in the financial services sector, filed to raise $500 million.
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- 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.
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- Khosla Ventures Acquisition IV, a SPAC formed by Khosla Ventures, filed to raise $200 million.
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- 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.
- Flourish Ventures promoted Sarah Morgenstern (based in D.C.) and Ameya Upadhyay (based in London) to venture partner.