OpenSea, one of the most talked about blockchain start-ups in Silicon Valley, said Tuesday that it had raised $ 300 million in new venture capital, making it the latest company to cash in on cryptocurrency funding. start-ups.
The new round of funding, led by investment firms Paradigm and Coatue Management, brings the start-up’s valuation to a staggering $ 13.3 billion just four years after it was founded. OpenSea previously raised more than $ 100 million from a host of investors, including investment firm Andreessen Horowitz and actor Ashton Kutcher, according to data provided by the company.
OpenSea was founded in 2017 and was created as a marketplace for people to buy and sell so-called NFTs or non-fungible tokens, which are unique pieces of digital code supported by blockchain technology.
NFT items can vary, but the most popular tokens are pieces of digital art created by artists who list their pieces for auction on the OpenSea website, similar to listing on eBay. Winning bids can sometimes reach hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Ethereum, a popular cryptocurrency and blockchain technology associated with most kinds of NFTs.
As crypto-focused start-ups have become more popular in recent months, OpenSea has become the central place for enthusiasts to trade in NFTs. It has attracted the attention of investors eager to place ever-increasing bets in the busy cryptocurrency area.
More than $ 3 billion in private investment went to NFT companies in 2021, according to data collected by PitchBook, a company that tracks private investment. In total, investors poured more than $ 28 billion into cryptocurrency and NFT start-ups around the world last year, PitchBook said.
“In 2021, the world woke up to the potential of NFTs to unlock utility and economic empowerment across a wide range of industries, communities and creative categories,” said Devin Finzer, one of the founders and CEO of OpenSea. “Our vision is to be the destination for these new open digital economies to thrive.”
Yet many critics of cryptocurrency believe that madness around NFTs and blockchain technology is a fashion phenomenon plagued by questionable activity. Last week, there was a brief controversy surrounding OpenSea after one of its patrons claimed that $ 2.2 million NFTs had been stolen from him. (OpenSea later froze the stolen assets and banned the items from being traded on its website.)
These concerns have not stopped technologists. Start-ups focusing on cryptocurrencies and NFTs recruit large numbers of employees from large technology companies such as Meta, Google and Amazon, enticing them with the promise of working on new – and potentially lucrative – technologies. Last year, Brian Roberts, the former CFO of Lyft, left the company to join OpenSea as its first CFO. The company has also recently hired Shiva Rajaraman, a former vice president of commerce for Meta, as its vice president of product.
The company said it plans to use the new funding to add its more than 90 employees while doubling the size of its trust and security team. The company also plans to invest heavily in product development to make its blockchain technology more accessible to ordinary consumers, and will soon launch a grant program to support creators and blockchain builders in the NFT area.
News that OpenSea was seeking funding was previously reported by the technical newsletter Newcomer.