Yuga Labs, the creator of Bored Ape Yacht Club, raises $450 million to build an NFT metaverse; now valued at $4 billion
The Metaverse is all the rage right now. But that wasn’t always the case. Last year, the global metaverse market was estimated to stand at $38.85 billion. Then in October 2021, Facebook announced it was rebranding to Meta to reflect its focus on the metaverse. That was when hundreds of companies started jumping into the space to get a piece of the action.
One of the leading companies in this space is Yuga Labs, a Miami, Florida-based tech startup and the once mysterious creator of the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), a non-fungible token (NFT) collection project built on the Ethereum blockchain. Originally launched with a live pre-sale on April 23, 2021, the project features an NFT collection of 10,000 gorilla avatars that have now permeated online celebrity culture.
Today, Yuga Labs announced it has closed $450 million in Seed funding to build an NFT metaverse. The round was led by a16z crypto, with participation from top-tier game studios like Animoca Brands and its subsidiary The Sandbox, strategic partners like LionTree, Sound Ventures, and Thrive Capital, and crypto leaders like FTX and MoonPay, and other partners and collaborators.
The round, which now values the company at $4 billion, will also be used to scale Yuga Labs’ rapidly growing team, attract the best talent across creative, engineering, and operations functions, and for joint ventures and partnerships, it has planned. On Friday, the company revealed a glimpse of its metaverse project, called Otherside.
Yuga Labs CEO Nicole Muniz said the company is partnering with “a few different game studios” to bring Otherside to life. Unlike BAYC, the Otherside game will also be available to non Bored Ape holders. The company said it plans to create development tools that allow NFTs from other projects to work inside their world. “We’re opening the door to effectively a walled garden and saying ‘Everybody’s welcome,’” the company said.
— Yuga Labs (@yugalabs) March 19, 2022
“Already, a new economy is possible with the IP of Apes, Punks, and Meebits, owned by the community,” said Nicole Muniz, CEO of Yuga Labs. “The possibilities for blockchain’s impact on culture are endless, and so we are building a beautiful, interoperable world for people to explore and play in. There’s a lot to come.”
“Yuga Labs has quickly become a web3 culture, gaming, and entertainment empire,” said Chris Lyons, general partner at a16z crypto. “Mainstream adoption in web3 is accelerating at lightning speed, and Yuga is at the forefront of merging culture and innovation for everyone to enter the metaverse. We’re thrilled to invest in this brilliant team and their vision, and help forge the next frontier of community-owned entertainment.”
“This capital will give Yuga speed to market on many things underway, and bring in new partners with strategic thinking that share the vision,” said Yuga Labs partner Guy Oseary.
The term metaverse, short for “meta-universe,” was originally coined by Neal Stephenson in the dystopian novel “Snow Crash” three decades ago. In the book, Stephenson describes the metaverse as a three-dimensional virtual reality generated by goggles worn by the novel’s hero, Hiro.
This year, the global metaverse market is expected to rise to $47.48 billion this year before surging to $678.8 billion by 2030, according to data from research firm Statista.