03/08/2021 OpenSea raises $100M at $1.5B valuation for NFT marketplace

OpenSea runs an open NFT marketplace.
OpenSea runs an open NFT marketplace.

Image Credit: OpenSea

OpenSea raised $100 million at a $1.5 billion value from A16z to scale its open nonfungible tokens (NFTs) marketplace.

The New York-based OpenSea said it has become the largest digital marketplace for crypto collectibles and NFTs. It sells NFTs, which are uniquely identifiable digital items that can be authenticated through blockchain (the transparent and secure digital ledger behind cryptocurrencies).

Andreessen Horowitz, also called A16z, led the second institutional funding round, with participation from angel investors Michael Ovitz (CAA cofounder) and actor-investor Ashton Kutcher. The funding amount means that the OpenSea is a unicorn, or startup with a $1 billion valuation. It is one of 900 unicorns valued at a cumulative $3 trillion.

With this capital, OpenSea will continue to scale its NFT platform, with immediate focus on hiring engineering talent, expanding internationally to new markets and audiences, and overall making more ways users can easily access, buy, and sell digital assets.

Webinar

Three top investment pros open up about what it takes to get your video game funded.

CEO Devin Finzer said in an interview with GamesBeat that we’re experiencing one of the biggest fundamental changes the internet economy has seen in decades, and he is proud to have been leading it for a while now as what he considers the best user experience and entry point for NFTs.

“The fundraise is really all around bringing widespread adoption to NFTs,” Finzer said. “And it’s about growing the platform that we’ve built, which has seen significant volume growth over the last the first half of the year. We think NFTs are really one of those once every couple-of-decades paradigm shifts that is just incredibly exciting.”

The new injection of funding comes as OpenSea NFTs are expanding to more mainstream audiences, and represent an entirely new economy based on digital ownership. Today, OpenSea is the largest marketplace for NFTs, representing gaming items, digital art and collectables, event tickets, domain names, and millions of other assets backed by blockchains.

Expansion to gas-free Polygon

 

Previously, OpenSea was restricted to Ethereum, the popular cryptocurrency platform that has been criticized for using a lot of computing power and wasting energy. Now it is adding transactions on the Polygon platform, which enables transactions with no huge transactions fees related to computing usage.

Today, the company announced that all Ethereum gas fees (those associated with the computing costs for minting NFTs on the blockchain) have been removed for creators, buyers, and sellers on the OpenSea marketplace. These are the kind of steps that OpenSea has to take to make blockchain less esoteric and more palatable for the mainstream.

“We’re now the first cross-blockchain NFT marketplace,” Finzer said. “We announced support of our Polygon integration, which is a Layer 2 platform for Ethereum. That enables zero transaction costs for creators, buyers and sellers. And we’re rolling out new blockchain integrations in the future.”

Over time, the company wants to lower transaction costs across platforms (as it has done with the addition of Polygon), enable people to use whatever payment method they have, and then educate the market about NFTs. Users can use any crypto wallet they want with OpenSea.

“We’re making the product more accessible to a mainstream consumer by building out kind of the core marketplace onboarding and really solidifying OpenSea as the brand directly tied to NFTs, very similar to how Coinbase established itself as the brand around cryptocurrency,” Finzer said.

Market waves

In June alone, OpenSea sold $160 million in digital assets on its NFT marketplace, and it experienced a 45 times increase in volume growth during the first half of 2021 from just $8 million in sales in January.

High-growth collectible avatar projects like Hashmasks, Bored Ape Yacht Club, and Meebits, which combine elements of art, blockchain tech, and social clubs, have also taken off on OpenSea in 2021.

“What’s exciting with NFTs is that the use case is not just purely financial or purely speculative,” Finzer said. “Folks from all sorts of different industries have started getting curious. It’s true that a lot of these are the early adopter crowd. But it’s really expanding beyond people who are really interested in trading stocks or what have you, to people who are more interested in creative work.”

NFTs have exploded in applications such as art, sports collectibles, and music. NBA Top Shot (a digital take on collectible basketball cards) is one example. Built by Dapper Labs, NBA Top Shot has surpassed $700 million in sales. And an NFT digital collage by the artist Beeple sold at Christie’s for $69.3 million in March. Gaming has a couple of new unicorns, or startups valued at $1 billion, in Animoca Brands and Forte. NFTs are now selling at a rate of $62 million a week, though the initial hype around NFTs is dying down from a peak in May of $175 million a week, according to Nonfungible.com.

“There has been a bubble mechanic going on there. But now as you pointed out we’re sort of seeing a rise of a more sustainable growth in terms of the market,” Finzer said. “OpenSea has been doing particularly well in this environment.”

A multifaceted market

OpenSea provides both a marketplace and platform where users can easily connect their crypto wallets to instantly purchase or list their NFTs for sale.

With OpenSea’s new injection of capital, the company plans to invest in its next phase of ecosystem growth with cross-blockchain support, enabling an open data economy.

“We think this is an opportunity for those who maybe were curious about crypto and blockchain but didn’t really feel like there was a platform with real utility that could take this beyond financial speculation,” Finzer said. “We think NFTs and OpenSea are really, extremely well-positioned to drive the next wave of adoption of blockchains.”

OpenSea’s marketplace supports multiple blockchains, such as Polygon and Ethereum, and will announce support for Flow and Tezos in the near future. Investing in the interoperability and scalability of OpenSea’s cross-chain marketplace is part of the company’s larger vision to bring users closer to Web3. Users can pay with stablecoins such as USDC, but they can’t pay with U.S. dollars just yet.

OpenSea launched in 2017, announcing a $2 million round a few months later from Founders Fund alongside industry-leading crypto firms. In March 2021, the company announced a $23 million institutional round led by A16z, with participation from existing investors and angels including Ron Conway, Mark Cuban, Belinda Johnson, Naval Ravikant, Ben Silbermann, and more. The company is hiring engineers and other staff.

Finzer said games such as Axie Infinity, The Sandbox, F1, and Crypto Voxels are taking off with NFT sales.

“We’re really excited about NFT’s representing a paradigm shift in technology where most of consumer tech has been dominated by a few large companies,” Finzer said. “We think NFTs are bringing back a Renaissance, where creators, collectors, developers, and all sorts of projects will emerge, very analogous to the paradigm shift where the birth of the internet really brought thousands of new early applications and ultimately, billions of people, changing their lives in a big way.”

Arts

https://venturebeat.com/2021/07/20/opensea-raises-100m-at-1-5b-valuation-for-nft-marketplace/

Interesting NFTs
CryptoPunk #9052
The CryptoPunks are 10,000 uniquely generated characters. No two are exactly alike, and each one of them can be officially owned by a single person on the Ethereum blockchain. Originally, they could be claimed for free by anybody with an Ethereum wallet, but all 10,000 were quickly claimed. Now they must be purchased from someone via the marketplace that's also embedded in the blockchain.
Banksta
Pump, dump and bump Banksta to death. Demon or dead normal? Print fiat at will. What more do you want?
Art Is The Currency of the Infinite
This still-life, titled after one of Pablo Picasso's infamous quotes, was made solely using 3D softwares and apps, in an attempt to bring this often forgotten artistic genre into the 21st century through the use of new artistic mediums and technologies. This piece is also an invitation to meditate on the role of "value" throught the ages and how it's been radically altered by the coming into existence of technologies and concepts like cryptocurrencies and digital scarcity.
Beautiful Worlds
Welcome to the ‘Beautiful worlds’ where nature and technology have merged into a single entity. These are Ai generated and hand finished visions of solarpunk future in which I would really like our future generations to live and prosper: the future we might have if we took the very “alternative route” which now lies before us: replacing states and corporations which free federations of communities and cooperatives, using decentralist and ecological technologies to create a world beyond economic scarcity and social hierarchy, defined by autonomy, mutual aid, diversity, and inclusiveness. The long-term goals of solarpunk are freedom and well-being for all by adopting and developing such ecological technologies as: solar, wind, wave and geothermal energy rather than oil or gas to generate electricity; a world of decentralized eco-cities, permaculture and vertical farming, free and open-source software, open-source hardware, small-scale fabrication laboratories, micro-manufacturing, 3D-printing, and countless examples of commons-based peer-production online: meeting the maximum amount of needs, in the shortest time, using the minimum possible amount of energy. It’s a world of decentralized and confederated eco-communities, using technology for human-centric and eco-centric ends rather than for accumulating power and profit – mending the metabolic rift between first nature (the natural world) and second nature (human culture) – and where social hierarchies of race, gender, sexuality, and disability are considered horror stories from the past “oil age”. Solarpunk desires societies of polycultural ethnic diversity and gender liberation, where each person is able to actualize themselves in societal environment of free experimentation and communal caring; This philosophy proposes that in order for the social and natural worlds to reconcile, humans must first transform their relations to each other – recreating society along egalitarian, cooperative, and democratic lines – and then transform their relations towards nature – adopting an attitude to cooperation, rather than domination, towards the planet and its nonhuman forms of life. Text by Connor Owens. This artwork took me a year to create and for you it will take a year to discover. Master autonomously updates once a day at 12am with one of 366 original artworks. Enjoy!
#95342
By OthersideDeployer