Dapper Labs raised $11 million to continue branching out from the product that made it famous: the popular CryptoKitties digital collectibles.
The two-year-old Vancouver B.C. startup will use the funds to build Flow, a blockchain product for the gaming and entertainment industries that will launch next year. Dapper Labs is working on the project with some big-name partners, including Warner Music and gaming heavyweights Ubisoft and Animoca Brands.
“After almost two years of research, we’re excited to share Flow with the world,” said Roham Gharegozlou, CEO of Dapper Labs. “Flow is a blockchain built from the ground up to support high performance ecosystems of apps and games without compromising decentralization. Bitcoin and Ethereum show how crypto can make the world of finance more open and transparent; Flow will do the same for consumers of entertainment and culture.”
Dapper Labs hopes to replicate the early viral success of CryptoKitties, digital cats that can be collected and breeded, with Flow. Once describes by The New York Times as “digital Beanie Babies,” CryptoKitties is based on the idea of digital scarcity — a new take on trading and collecting baseball or Pokémon cards, for example. Though the craze has abated somewhat, at one point in 2017 the frenzy significantly slowed the Ethereum blockchain network where the collectibles are bought due to the sheer volume of transactions.
Forbes reported that Flow is designed to handle a greater volume of transactions than Ethereum. Details about the entertainment and gaming partnerships were not available, but the companies hinted at building digital collectibles around musicians and popular games.
“The main goal is to create new avenues where the fans of our artists can explore their fandom, and engage with the artists in new and different ways that they haven’t done before.” Warner Music Group Senior Vice President of Global Digital Business Development Jeff Bronikowski, who also oversees the company’s innovation group, told Forbes.
Dapper Labs is working on a similar project with the NBA that will also run on Flow. NBA Top Shot will let sports fans trade memorabilia.
Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto fund led the round, joining big names like Google and Samsung as investors in the two-year-old startup. Also participating in the round were Accomplice, AppWorks, Autonomous Partners, Fenbushi Digital, and Warner Music Group, as well as existing investors Union Square Ventures, Google investment arm Venrock, Digital Currency Group, Animoca Brands, SV Angel, Version One and CoinFund, among others.
Dapper Labs has raised close to $40 million to date. In November 2018 it raised a $15 million round.