Dapper Labs, the company that first brought NFTs to mainstream attention with the release of NBA Top Shot in 2020, has raised $305 million. The investment will help the company expand its network and Flow blockchain to bring more gaming and NFT assets to fans. The company is currently valued at $2.6 billion and allows users to purchase NFTs using crypto or credit cards, preventing fraud and making them highly accessible.
The company built its decentralized Flow blockchain, used for gaming and NFTs, and addressed scalability issues discovered during the release of Cryptokitties, the first NFT, on the Ethereum network. Dapper Labs released the open beta version of NBA Top Shot on their Flow blockchain on October 1, 2020. The Flow blockchain aims to help the network achieve faster transactions and create an ecosystem where artists or bands can supply fans with unique virtual assets in NFTs.
Licensed NFT Mania
The NFT marketplace has exploded in 2021, taking the art, music, gaming, and sports industries by storm. On February 22, Jesse Swartz set an NBA Top Shot record by purchasing an NFT of a Lebron James dunk for $208,000. An NFT collage by digital artist Beeple was auctioned at Christie’s for $63.9 million, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
With a record-breaking 800,000 registered accounts and over $500 million in sales, NBA Top Shot is the fastest-growing NFT marketplace. According to Dapper Labs, the company has 338,000 customers with at least one NFT purchase in their account and over 3 million transactions in their network. All this was achieved within five months of their first release.
As a result, investors are taking notice of the Flow blockchain’s capabilities and the value scarcity of collectibles in the digital marketplace. As Andre Igadawa mentioned, “The site is crazy great so far. I’m looking forward to sustainability, you know, keeping this thing going for the long haul and having some fun at the same time.” He reinvested in Dapper Labs in the new series funding that Coatue ran. Other investors such as NFL players, MLB players, and Aston Kutcher have also invested in Dapper Labs, bringing the total investment to around $305 million.
The money raised through the last series will be used to expand Flow’s integration with other intellectual property. The company has announced that they will create unique digital experiences using Warner Brothers Inc and the UFC.
Dapper Labs is not the only company releasing NFTs. The likes of DC Comics, MotoGP, and Ubisoft have signed partnerships with NFT marketplaces to release unique collectibles that are making headlines. Even Snoop Dogg and Lionel Richie have partnered with Crypto.com to release NFTs on their upcoming marketplace. Flow is not the only blockchain to support NFTs; however, it’s the one that has made the most significant impact, combining sports culture with blockchain technology.
On the Flipside
- Speculation and the increasing value of NFTs could limit fans’ opportunities to acquire the memorabilia that they truly crave.
- A KYC is required for a user to buy and sell their trading cards, which defeats the purpose of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
- There are concerns from investors and market analysts that NFTs are currently in a bubble, with speculation setting the price.
- NBA Top Shot users are not in control of their funds, and some fans have been banned from the platform.
The Difference In NFT Experiences
Each NFT experience differs in quality and quantity. NBA Top Shot is different from the art market because it taps into a subculture that doesn’t rely on wealth. Card collectors have been around since Panini introduced them, and NBA Top Shot is just a digital reiteration of the same experience. Sure, one can rip the moment from the web and have it. However, the uniqueness of being tracked and signed on the blockchain gives more value.
NBA Top Shot has accounted for more transactions in their marketplace than all other NFTs combined. Aimed at mainstream consumers, the Flow blockchain can engage and maintain customers. As a result, Dapper Labs have partnered with Alchemy to increase Flow’s integration and allow all developers to build experiences using Flow. Additionally, Alchemy will run validator nodes on the network.
Caty Tedman from Dapper Labs has claimed this could be a “100-year product.” Trading cards created an underground economy based on scarcity, and now blockchain is providing a similar value. When you consider new virtual worlds like Sandbox or Decentraland, the possibilities for NFTs’ value to increase are enormous.