My roots are in Memphis, Tennessee, so you shouldn’t be all that surprised when I tell you that Elvis Presley will occasionally make an appearance at a wedding reception.
The King lives on in his music, his thousands of impersonators, at Graceland, a new film this summer, and within the more than 400 active Elvis Presley fan clubs around the world. And now, apparently, on the blockchain.
Elvis Presley Enterprises, owned by CVC Capital Partners and HPS Investment Partners-backed Authentic Brands Group, is the latest brand to explore how Web3 can, as they say, keep the magic alive. Its new initiative, dubbed “Elvis On-Chain,” is an attempt to put voting rights back in the hands of fans—allowing them to acquire Elvis memorabilia such as records, outfits, cars, or jewelry, and have a say in matters such as where and when they will be put on display. It will be an interesting case study on whether raving fans—and particularly those who skew older in age—will see any underlying potential in the novelty that is non-fungible tokens, and, perhaps more importantly, are also willing to pay for it.
As part of Elvis On-Chain, ABG is partnering with blockchain development studio Run It Wild to set up a DAO (or a decentralized autonomous organization) for Elvis fans that will give them voting rights as well as a community wallet they can use to purchase collectibles. To get in on it, fans must purchase one of 1,935 NFTs that Run It Wild expects to mint in April. Some token-holders will randomly get airdropped a digital wearable, such as Elvis’ 1973 American Eagle white jumpsuit or a set of blue suede shoes. The NFTs will range between 0.35 and 0.56 Ether in price (or the equivalent of approximately $1,000 to $1,700, based on Ether’s current market value). At the higher end of the range, ABG would rake in around $3.3 million from the NFT sale; 20% of those funds ABG says will be set aside for the DAO’s coffers to be used towards buying back collectibles. In recent years, collectors have sold Elvis’ pink and black Cadillac, guitar pics, and wine glasses.
ABG hopes the appeal will be less about buying a new outfit for your avatar, and more about having a stake, and say, in the future of the Elvis Presley brand. As part of that, it will also give the company a new direct line of communication with the Elvis fan base.
“We will be involved and they will be involved. And I think what the DAO does is it gives the opportunity to really formalize that and let them really be a part of the process,” says Marc Rosen, president of entertainment at ABG, adding later: “NFTs are not just about speculation, and people trying to make money really quickly. You want people to make money and that’s obviously part of it, but it’s also about governance and community and engaging with other friends and fans and meeting new friends and fans.”
The exact structure, operating model, and launch date of the DAO are still forthcoming, but Run It Wild director Adam De Cata says that NFT holders will be able to submit ideas, and that the community will also vote on proposals Elvis Presley Enterprises puts forth.
“It’s something that’s very much a work in progress, and how best it will work, and what we’ll be able to do,” he says.
De Cata wouldn’t get specific with me about what’s in the pipeline, apart from noting the partnerships with Decentraland and The Sandbox for virtual events, and mentioning there are ideas around incorporating audio into smart contracts, which are pre-conditioned agreements made on the blockchain. De Cata says they will wait to decide which memorabilia items the DAO would purchase, as they want the community to be part of that decision.
Elvis On-Chain is the latest experiment in how brands and companies are harnessing NFTs to rally fans. With blockchain technology and infrastructure still so nascent, functional use cases for Web3 are still rather limited outside of the gaming, music, and digital art industries. Musicians and brands experimenting with the technology seem to be getting the most out of it right now, which may contribute to why they are showing up as investors to back NFT projects like Bored Ape Yacht Club.
But we’ve also seen traction around crowdfunding. Near the end of last year, a community of crypto enthusiasts rallied together to bid on a rare copy of the U.S. Constitution at a Sotheby’s auction. Investors set up a single-purpose DAO and ultimately raised $40 million to buy the artifact, though they were ultimately outbid by hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin. In December, crowdfunding platform Kickstarter said it was developing an open-source protocol that would create a “decentralized version” of its fundraising platform.
In true Web3 fashion, ABG and Run It Wild are hosting a rather absurd virtual event to keep things interesting and rally interest for their NFT mint. They are planning to airdrop about 10,000 digital Elvis jumpsuits and wigs to attendees of their “Block Party,” expected to take place in Decentraland at the end of this month or in early April. Should all of those attendees show up, and run around the metaverse in their free Elvis-wear, ABG hopes to set a new Guinness World Record for most Elvis impersonators in one place—a record previously capped at 895 impersonators in 2014.
When you’re getting together in the metaverse, it may be a little easier to get the fans back together.
See you tomorrow,
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- Affini-T Therapeutics, a Boston-based biotech company using T cells against oncogenic driver mutations, raised $175 million in funding. Vida Ventures and Leaps co-led the round and were joined by investors including Humboldt Fund, The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Catalio Capital Management, Agent Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments, Erasca Ventures, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and others.
- TemperPack, a Richmond, Va.-based thermal insulation manufacturer for cold chain packaging, raised $140 million in funding led by the Sustainable Investing business within Goldman Sachs Asset Management and was joined by investors including Grosvenor Food & AgTech, Harbert Management Corporation, Tao Capital Partners, Revolution Growth, SJF Ventures, and Arborview Capital.
- Firefly Aerospace, a Cedar Park, Texas-based launch, spacecraft, and in-space vehicle services company, raised $75 million in Series B funding led by AE Industrial Partners.
- Digits, a San Francisco-based finance and accounting platform for small businesses, raised $65 million in Series C funding led by SoftBank and was joined by investors including 20VC Growth, GV, and Benchmark.
- Datagen, a Tel Aviv-based data-as-code company for computer vision A.I., raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Scale Venture Partners and was joined by investors including TLV Partners, Viola Ventures, and Spider Capital.
- Theta Lake, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based security and compliance platform for collaboration, raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Battery Ventures and was joined by investors including RingCentral Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, Zoom Video Communications, LightSpeed Venture Partners, Neotribe Ventures, and Cisco Investments.
- Podimetrics, a Somerville, Mass.-based SmartMat creator focused on preventing diabetic foot complications, raised $45 million in Series C funding led by D1 Capital Partners and was joined by investors including Medtech Convergence Fund, Polaris Partners, Scientific Health Development, and others.
- Ocelot Bio, a San Diego-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on end-stage liver disease therapeutics, raised $36 million in Series A funding led by RA Capital Management, Venrock, and Vivo Capital.
- Reach, a Calgary, Alberta-based e-commerce payments platform, raised $30 million funding led by Vistara Growth and was joined by investors including Bluesky Equities, Tribune Capital, and Rising Tide.
- Alife Health, a San Francisco-based fertility tech company building A.I. tools for IVF, raised $22 million in Series A funding co-led by Deena Shakir at Lux Capital and was joined by investors including Rebecca Kaden at Union Square Ventures and Anarghya Vardhana at Maveron.
- Nucleus Security, a Sarasota, Fla.-based vulnerability management and process automation company, raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Lead Edge Capital and was joined by Arthur Ventures.
- Salad, a Salt Lake City-based cloud computing platform, raised $17 million in Series A funding led by Left Lane Capital and Origin Ventures and was joined by investors including Kickstart Seed Fund, Royal Street Ventures, and Carthona Capital.
- Activ Surgical, a Boston-based digital surgery imaging company, raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Hikma Ventures.
- Unleash, an Oslo-based open source feature management platform, raised $14 million in Series A funding led by Spark Capital and was joined by investors including Frontline Ventures, firstminute capital, Alliance Venture, and Arkwright X.
- MaxSold, a Kingston, Ontario-based online auctions for estate sales and downsizing company, raised $11.1 million in Series B funding led by Framework Venture Partners and was joined by Canadian Business Growth Fund.
- Handle, a San Francisco-based software platform for construction payment compliance, raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Energize Ventures and Ironspring Ventures.
- Tea, a San Juan, Puerto Rico-based company building an open source software platform on the blockchain, raised $8 million in seed funding led by Binance Labs and was joined by investors including XBTO, Humla Ventures, Lattice Capital, DARMA Capital, Coral DeFi, Woodstock, Rocktree, SVK Crypto, and MAKE Group.
- CloudFrame, a Princeton, N.J.-based software company freeing mainframe apps from COBOL, raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Eldridge and was joined by angel investors including Henry Kravis and individual members of New York Angels.
- Ride1Up, a San Diego-based electric bike manufacturer, raised $6.5 million in Series A funding led by Ecosystem Integrity Fund.
- Fairwords, a New York-based communication protection software, raised $5.25 million in Series A funding led by Fintop Capital.
- Bower, a Stockholm-based app that rewards people with money or coupons when they recycle, raised $4.7 million in seed funding led by blq Invest and was joined by investors including Almi Invest GreenTech, Verdane Foundation, Orkla Ventures, and others.
- Monterosa, a Liverpool-based real-time engagement provider for sports and media organizations, raised $4.5 million in funding led by 24Haymarket and was joined by investors including ACF Investors, Richard Scudamore, Chris Rodman, and Jeremy Darroch.
- Della, a London-based legaltech startup focused on legal review, raised $2.5 million in seed funding from investors including Pragmatech Ventures, Thibault Poutrel, Frederic Montagnon, and others.
- Breyer Capital acquired a minority stake in Sandbox AQ, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based company focused on quantum A.I. solutions for financial services, health care, computer security, the U.S. government, and other sectors.
- DeliverHealth, backed by Assured Health Partners, acquired PresidioHealth, a San Francisco-based health care and clinical intelligence company. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Eckuity acquired a minority stake in Professional Triathletes Organisation, a London-based triathlon-focused non-profit. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- SK E&S acquired EverCharge, a San Francisco-based EV charging solution provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Trive Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in BPS Supply Company, a Shafter, Calif.-based industrial pipes, valves, fittings and engineered products distributor. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Autodesk agreed to acquire The Wild, a Beaverton, Ore.-based extended reality platform for architecture and design teams. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Dexter Magnetic Holdings acquired Magnetic Component Engineering, a Torrance, Calif.-based magnets and magnet assemblies manufacturer. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Greubel Forsey acquired a minority stake in Richemont, a Bellevue, Switzerland-based luxury watchmaker. Financial terms were not disclosed
- Lightricks acquired Popular Pays, a Chicago-based software company that connects brands with creators, according to Axios. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- RoadSafe Traffic Systems acquired Liddell Bros. and Liddell Leasing, a Halifax, Mass.-based traffic control services and equipment suppliers. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- WE Soda, a London-based natural soda ash producer, is in talks with Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase about a London public offering, according to Bloomberg.
- Lanvin Group, a Shanghai, China-based luxury fashion group, agreed to go public on the NYSE via a merger with Primavera Capital Acquisition Corp., a SPAC. A deal would value the company at $1.5 billion.
FUNDS + FUNDS OF FUNDS
- dao5, a crypto investment fund, raised $125 million in a new fund focused on seed and pre-seed crypto companies and protocols.
- Markd, a Boulder, Colo.-based venture capital firm, raised $100 million for its first fund, focused on early and growth-stage digital startups in the insurance industry.
- UC Berkeley SkyDeck, a Berkeley, Calif.-based startup accelerator, raised $60 million for a new fund focused on the UC system and abroad.
- Pillar VC, a Boston-based venture capital firm, hired Lauren Farrell as CFO. Formerly, she was with Apple Tree Partners.
- Searchlight Capital Partners, a London, New York, and Toronto-based global private investment firm, hired David Fuller as operating partner. Formerly, he was with Rogers Wireless.
- SignalFire, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm, hired Jim Stoneham as operating partner. Formerly, he was with Stripe.
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