Yuga Labs, the company that created the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection, closed $450 million in a seed funding round that gives it a post-money valuation of $4 billion, the company announced.
The round was led by venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz’s a16z crypto fund. Other investors joining the round included game studio Animoca Brands and its subsidiary The Sandbox; investment firms LionTree, Sound Ventures and Thrive Capital; and crypto players FTX and MoonPay.
According to Yuga Labs, which was founded in 2021, the funding marks its seed round — making it among the biggest-ever valuations for a seed-round investment.
The company said it will use the funds to “scale its rapidly growing team, attract the best talent across creative, engineering and operations functions, and for joint ventures and partnerships it has planned.” On Friday, the company teased a new metaverse project, dubbed Otherside, designed to integrate avatars from other NFT projects.
The eye-popping valuation for Yuga shows that the broad interest in NFTs — if not to say overheated hype — among investors and entrepreneurs is certainly not dying down. The mania for NFTs, which use blockchain technology to verify ownership of digital content, kicked off in earnest in early 2021. The technology has attracted interest across the media and entertainment landscape as intellectual-property owners look to generate new ways to engage fans and monetize content on the blockchain.
The funding news comes less than two weeks after Yuga Labs announced that it acquired the intellectual property of NFT pioneer CryptoPunks and Meebits from Larva Labs. Last week, the company launched ApeCoin, a cryptocurrency that Yuga says will be governed independently as a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). Yuga’s Otherside will use the ApeCoin tokens.
“Already, a new economy is possible with the IP of Apes, Punks, and Meebits, owned by the community,” Yuga Labs CEO Nicole Muniz, who joined the company in September, said in a statement. “The possibilities for blockchain’s impact on culture are endless, and so we are building a beautiful, interoperable world for people to explore and play in. There’s a lot to come.”
In October 2021, Guy Oseary — the music industry veteran and tech investor whose management clients include Madonna, U2 and Red Hot Chili Peppers — signed Bored Ape Yacht Club and its Yuga Labs for representation. “This capital will give Yuga speed to market on many things underway, and bring in new partners with strategic thinking that share the vision,” Oseary said in a statement.
With the funding, Chris Lyons, general partner at a16z crypto, will join Yuga Labs’ board. “Mainstream adoption in web3 is accelerating at lightning speed, and Yuga is at the forefront of merging culture and innovation for everyone to enter the metaverse,” Lyons said. “We’re thrilled to invest in this brilliant team and their vision, and help forge the next frontier of community-owned entertainment.”