The lure of non-fungible tokens and the metaverse in general is reflected in Yuga Labs’ massive funding round, which positions the startup to build a media empire around its NFT blockbusters and future gaming and entertainment launches within the metaverse.
The $450 million seed funding round announced on March 22 values Yuga Labs at $4 billion. The lead investor was Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto a16z, and other participants included game studio Animoca Brands and its subsidiary Sandbox, strategic partners LionTree, Sound Ventures and Thrive Capital, and cryptocurrency players FTX and MoonPay, among others.
Yuga Labs’ simian plume
Yuga Labs is best known for its market-leading NFT brand Bored Ape Yacht Club, whose cartoon simians on the Ethereum blockchain have attracted celebrity buyers such as American late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon, the tennis great Serena Williams, pop star Justin Bieber, and rappers Snoop Dogg and Eminem. Bored Ape NFTs typically sell for several hundred thousand dollars and one, #8817, was sold at auction in October 2021 for $3.4 million. Yuga Labs also owns two other dominant NFT brands, CryptoPunks and Meebits, which it acquired from Larva Labs earlier this month.
Additionally, Yuga Labs last week launched ApeCoin, its own cryptocurrency designed to be used as the primary internal token at the company’s growing culture, gaming and commerce properties. Much like Web3, the cryptocurrency is owned and controlled by ApeCoin DAO, a decentralized autonomous organization. Initially released for free to Bored Ape NFT holders on March 17, ApeCoin quickly skyrocketed in value before stabilizing somewhat in the following days. CoinMarketCap reported that ApeCoin was priced at $11.85 on March 22, the day Yuga Labs announced its seed investment round, giving ApeCoin a live market capitalization of nearly $3.3 billion. at this moment.
Next step: the metaverse
Armed with its new infusion of seed capital, one of Yuga Labs’ next endeavors is its own metaverse project, dubbed Otherside, which has been described as an MMORPG, or massively multiplayer online role-playing game, that will allow interoperability in the wider NFT universe. . The company is reportedly partnering with a handful of game studios to bring its vision for a decentralized world to life in virtual reality, but hasn’t revealed a launch timeline.
Although Yuga Labs is already financially strong after taking its share of NFT deals – an allegedly leaked pitch deck showed its gross income in 2021 to be $138 million with a net income of $127 million for a margin of 92 % – its product portfolio is relatively thin. The company has produced NFT artwork brands based on monkeys, released a limited-time game (the only 10-day Bored Ape Yacht Club vs. Mutant Ape Yacht Club mobile game for November 2021 members) and acquired two major NFT competitors.
Nonetheless, having only launched Bored Ape Yacht Club in April 2021, Yuga Labs’ rapid trajectory cannot be discounted, and the company appears to have a detailed game plan to complement its sizable ambition. Investors and partners have bet big on the virtual double crush.