Vancouver-based unicorn Dapper Labs Inc. announced $250 million USD ($319.1 million CAD) in new funding, September 22.
New York-based global investment manager Coatue led the round with existing investors a16z, GV (formerly Google Ventures), and Version One Ventures. New investors Bond and GIC joined them in the round.
The company behind NBA Top Shot, and original developers of Flow Blockchain, also announced a partnership with LaLiga, a private sports association for men’s professional football (soccer).
LaLiga is composed of the 20 public limited sports companies, and clubs of LaLiga Santander, and the 22 of LaLiga SmartBank, and is responsible for organizing professional football competitions in Spain.
“Blockchain and crypto are foundational underpinnings for the next wave of technology evolution.”
Dapper Labs will use the new capital to continue to scale and support major additional brand-driven sports, entertainment and music based products coming online and being developed on the Flow blockchain.
Roham Gharegozlou, CEO, Dapper Labs, Tweeted: “We will grow sustainably, so all this is about bringing the right partners in more than just cash.”
“Blockchain and crypto are foundational underpinnings for the next wave of technology evolution,” said Mary Meeker, general partner of Bond. “With NBA Top Shot and a compelling pipeline of products to come, Dapper Labs is leading the way with the innovative Flow platform. We are excited to be a part of this journey – and its next iterations – with Roham and team.”
This latest round follows a year of exponential growth for Dapper Labs. While still in open Beta, its flagship NBA Top Shot grew by 30 times in 2021, with more than $780 million USD ($994.5 million CAD) in collectibles bought and sold.
“If you’re part of @nbatopshot, expect to see accelerated product development at every step,” Gharegozlou Tweeted. “We want to get out of beta ASAP: mobile app, non-custodial wallets, and of course – the best content.”
Content is where LaLiga enters the picture. Dapper Labs announced that the partnership will give fans the chance to collect and own “some of the most talked-about and iconic in-game Moments from their favourite teams from over 10 seasons of play.”
Starting June 2022, Dapper Labs will make dynamic video-based moments from all of LaLiga’s clubs – including Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, and Valencia FC, among others – available on Flow blockchain.
“With over 3.5 billion football fans around the globe, the experience’s layered environment has the power to revolutionize how fans connect to the sport of football and how they engage with the teams and the players they love, both virtually and in real life,” said Caty Tedman, head of partnerships for Dapper Labs.
Flow allows fans to trace and verify the authenticity and scarcity of their digital collectibles.
The NFT rarity framework will be very clear as Dapper expands to other sports, Gharegozlou wrote on Twitter. “Rare and Legendary-tier content will always be incredibly scarce. Common and Fandom-tier content will be accessible to new collectors – while still preserving scarcity in the long term.”
Flow has also emerged as a go-to destination for over 3,000 developers, artists, creators and brands looking to build out their own blockchain based experiences and communities, in an environmentally sustainable way, Dapper Labs claimed.
Most recently, Google Cloud was unveiled as Flow’s cloud provider, and came on board to drive the next wave of mainstream NFT adoption on Flow. Dapper Labs also said it will soon support experiences from UFC, Genies, Warner Music Group, and more.
Formed in February 2018, Dapper Labs was spun out of design company Axiom Zen. The company created CryptoKitties, which is a blockchain game on Ethereum developed by Axiom Zen that allows players to purchase, collect, breed, and sell virtual cats.
In 2019, the startup developed a new product called NBA Top Shot. Top Shot is a digital platform for basketball fans to collect, trade, and own some of the most memorable moments in NBA history on blockchain.
The platform features a social experience built around digital collectibles as well as a free head-to-head game designed to engage NBA fans. Like other sports games, fans who play the game are tasked with creating their ideal rosters by acquiring live in-game moments from the NBA season.
In March, Dapper Labs raised $305 million USD ($388.2 million) in financing to expand to other sports.
“Coatue has been investing in technology trends for over 20 years and web 3.0 is one of the most exciting trends we’ve seen,” said Dan Rose, chairman, Coatue Ventures. “We think Dapper Labs is a leader in the space at the infrastructure level with Flow blockchain and in the application layer with NBA TopShot.”