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    Wednesday, March 23, 2022

    Bored Ape Creator Yuga Labs Raises $450 Million to Fund Metaverse Project

    Yuga Labs, the creator of the Bored Apes Yacht Club collection of NFTs, said it has raised $450 million in a funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz while it begins a metaverse project.

    Other investors included Animoca Brands, its subsidiary The Sandbox and the crypto exchange FTX Trading Ltd. Yuga said in a statement that the round values the firm at $4 billion. Andreessen and Animoca have already emerged as big beneficiaries of a Bored Apes-related cryptocurrency, ApeCoin, which debuted last week.

    Over the past year, BAYC has become one of the top NFT collections, with $1.4 billion in lifetime sales, according to data tracker DappRadar.

    Meanwhile Yuga has established itself as one of the top NFT marketers, striking a deal with Animoca to have the apes debut in a game and pulling together exclusive events for purchasers of its digital apes. Ape fans have been putting the digital images to use everywhere from their social-media profiles to a restaurant.

    Yuga plans to use the funds to expand its development team and for joint ventures and partnerships. It recently bought the intellectual property -- as well as numerous NFTs -- of the CryptoPunks and Meebits collections from Larva Labs.

    Yuga may perhaps build the collections into even bigger brands, with some of the characters debuting in games or on luxury goods.

    Yuga Labs has been financially successful to date. A leaked pitch deck indicates that the company made $137 million last year, primarily by taking a cut of the transactions tied to its NFT brands, with an astounding 95 percent profit margin. (Yuga Labs declined to comment on figures from the deck.)

    But the company has built fairly little at this point. Its NFT collections have 40,000 users at most, according to OpenSea’s data, and the company has only released one game for a limited period of time. That means Yuga Labs is essentially being given hundreds of millions of dollars to build a gaming company — or at least, the Web3-ified 2022 version of one — from scratch, off the back of a hugely lucrative art project.

    That success is what investors are thinking about when funding Yuga Labs. “They built this very energized community and this culture phenomenon,” says Dixon. But the company is ultimately making the same big bet that so many others are right now: that some format of metaverse project will become the next explosive thing. Now, they just have to build it

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