Dapper Labs – the Canadian tech venture behind the popular Ethereum-based game CryptoKitties – has raised over $15 million in a funding round led by financial firm Venrock.
A Little Background
Founded in February of 2018, Dapper Labs seeks to bring decentralized environments to over a billion gamers to ensure their information is kept secret. Investors in Dapper Labs include popular U.S. digital exchange Coinbase, Reddit, Union Square Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.
In addition to Venrock’s participation, Google Ventures and Samsung NEXT also contributed funds to Dapper Labs’ ongoing “pot of gold.” Since first stepping into the blockchain scene, the company has managed to raise over $27 million. Dapper says it’s planning to use the funds to expand both locally and globally by establishing a U.S. subsidiary led by former executives of the Disney company.
Bringing the “Big Boys” Aboard
It will also see its Canada office take on new executives from companies like Ubisoft – the game maker behind the popular “Assassin’s Creed” and “Far Cry” games – as well as Amazon, EA Sports and Hasbro. The primary goal is to increase widespread adoption of blockchain applications.
CEO of Dapper Labs Roham Gharegozlou explains:
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. 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.
People Love Crypto – and Kitties
Arguably, the company’s most popular application continues to be CryptoKitties, which has accumulated over 3.2 million transactions since its inception roughly one year ago. The company set a new standard for fundraising by turning its back on initial coin offering (ICO) models and instead developing and launching a product that utilized blockchain’s benefits beyond the scope of cryptocurrencies. The game is credited for bringing several “newbies” to the blockchain space.
Dieter Shirley, CTO of Dapper Labs and the creator of the ERC-721 standard for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on Ethereum, comments:
We launched CryptoKitties to show the benefits that blockchain technology can bring to consumers. 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 use its consumer insights to lower the barrier to entry for blockchain and make the values of decentralization accessible to everyone.
Setting the Standards
Since CryptoKitties was introduced to the gaming public, Dapper Labs has instilled a new developer program and public API which gives NFT owners and third-party developers open usage rights on original artwork. The company has also created a launchpad program and seed fund to assist third-parties in building self-sustained platforms within the organization’s ecosystem.
David Pakman – general partner at Venrock and now Dapper Labs board member – explains what it was about the company that impressed him and his fellow team members enough to get involved with the funding round:
“Dapper Labs impressed us with their vision. More than any other company in the industry, they truly understand and aim to reach the mainstream consumer. The blockchain will usher in an industry of scarce digital assets and will enable new types of self-expression. Combined with the transition from centralized to peer-to-peer commerce, this will unlock trillions of dollars in value for consumers.”
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Image courtesy of ShutterStock and CryptoKitties