Having burst on to the Ethereum network on November 28 last year (in what was essentially a trial run for the ERC-721 token), the wildly popular CryptoKitties has now secured $12 million (USD) from a successful Series A funding round led by some of the biggest names in the venture capital space.
The news came on Tuesday, as the pioneering cryptocollectible project undergoes somewhat of a de-merger from its creator, Axiom Zen (a Canadian game studio); using the $12 million to fund an expanded development team, as CryptoKitties looks to hunker down and capitalize on their first-mover advantage.
Participating in the Series A investment round were some of crypto’s most familiar names. Just some of the reputable investors who contributed were Naval Ravikant (CEO and Founder, AngelList), Fred Ehrsam (Founder, Coinbase), Bill Tai (Board Member, BitFury), and Avichal Garg (Partner, Y Combinator).
More impressive again, the investment round was led by Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures (USV); two world-renowned venture capital firms which are best known for having backed then-startups like Facebook, Twitter, and Coinbase.
In authoring a Tuesday blog post, Fred Wilson (Partner, USV) provided insight on why the New York-based venture capital firm were getting in on the cryptocollectibles trend that appears set to boom (if the incredible success of ERC-721 Beta is any indication):
At USV, we think digital collectibles is one of many amazing things that blockchains enable that literally could not be done before this technology emerged.”
In justifying their investment in CryptoKitties, Wilson expressed the venture capital firm’s belief that the arrival of non-fungibility (and hence, cryptocollectibles) “will be one of the first, if not the first, big consumer use cases for blockchain technologies.”
CryptoKitties, which now has a userbase in excess of 1.5 million, was one of three projects offered as part of ERC-721 Beta late last year; CryptoCelebrities and EtherTulips being the other two. Notably, the CryptoKitties fanaticism went so viral that it was accounting for some 30 percent of trade volume on the Ethereum network.
Beyond creating CryptoKitties, Axiom Zen were in fact the authors of ERC-721; a ‘standard’ akin to NEP-5 (for the NEO blockchain), or ERC-20 (another for the Ethereum blockchain). It first started out as an Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) written by one of their technical architects, Dieter Shirley (also a co-founder of CryptoKitties).
You need only look to the booming industry that is smart-phone based games to see the potential for cryptocollectibles. Think Dragon City, Pokémon GO, and Monster Legends.
Over the last decade, we have seen collectible-centric mobile apps flourish, as more and more entrepreneurs and developers caught on to the fact that something about collecting, and even procuring, almost anything (virtual or otherwise) seemed to trigger primitive elements of human psychology that saw users coming back for more, day after day.
With ERC-721 having moved out of Beta, we are likely to see a spate of cryptocollectibles hit the Ethereum blockchain in the not-too-distant future, such as Etheremon, CryptoPets and Bitpet. Also, expect to see ERC-721 trading platforms like OpenSea and RareBits become more prominent.
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