One of Canada’s most interesting tech startups over the past year is back in the news again, this time with their largest round yet.
Dapper Labs, the studio behind the online blockchain sensation Cryptokitties, has raised a $15 million USD ($19.6 million CAD) financing round. Participating investors feature some of tech’s most notable names, such as GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Samsung NEXT, as well as Venrock, who led the round. Other investors for this round include Endeavor, aXiomatic; and the Andreessen Horowitz Cultural Leadership Fund
Originally created as a spin-off from parent company Axiom Zen, The Vancouver-based Dapper is now its own entity, and this latest round will help the company expand internationally. The first order of business is creating a U.S. subsidiary led by former executives from Unity and Disney. The money will also go towards local Canadian hires from companies such as Ubisoft, Amazon, Hasbro and Zynga.
“The evolution of true digital ownership and the interoperability of smart contracts creates new ways for consumers, creators, and platform providers to interact completely peer-to-peer, with no middlemen,” said Roham Gharegozlou, CEO at Dapper Labs. “Our mission at Dapper Labs is to use games and entertainment to bring the values of decentralization to billions of consumers worldwide. This round of financing was about getting the right partners around the table to bring compelling content to the blockchain – and make sure usability and infrastructure allow for adoption by mainstream consumers.”
A big part of a round like this for Dapper is choosing who will invest in the company. They have the goal of bringing blockchain-based entertainment to the masses, so it has to be a very deliberate mix of experts based in both tech and gaming with a bit of show business knowledge thrown in as well. Building off this, Dapper also unveiled previously undisclosed investors for their original $12 million financing round earlier this year: Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo; Steve Huffman, the founder and CEO of Reddit; and Green Bay Ventures.
“We launched CryptoKitties to show the benefits that blockchain technology can bring to consumers,” Dieter Shirley, Dapper Labs’ CTO. “By starting with a fun and approachable experience, we appealed to a very broad audience. We’ve seen many opportunities and obstacles for mainstream adoption of decentralized technology, and we can’t wait to share what we’ve learned with the rest of the world.”
Cryptokitties was a massive success when it first launched, allowing users to buy, sell and breed digital cats that were uniquely identified through the blockchain. Some Cryptokitties sold for over six figures, prompting quick growth and even an expansion into China and other parts of southeastern Asia. So far, Dapper has seen over 3.2-million transactions and tens of millions of dollars transacted on the platform.
Beyond the investors listed at the top, this newest round featured even more folks wanting a slice of the Cryptokitties pie. Other investors included oinFund, Animoca Brands, Matt Bellamy, the lead singer of Muse, June Fund, HOF Capital, John Pfeffer, and GBIC. Existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, SV Angel, Digital Currency Group, William Mougayar, Hex Capital, and Rising Tide Fund also participated in the financing.
It seems Dapper has more planned for their blockchain success. Their site currently reads “Coming Soon: putting more than cats on the blockchain.”