Animoca Brands, a Hong Kong-based blockchain game developer and investor in non-fungible tokens (NFTs), has reached a valuation of $2.2 billion after pulling in fresh capital from investors including France’s Ubisoft Entertainment and Sequoia China.
Animoca announced on Wednesday that it had raised $65 million in its latest funding round that also included Liberty City Ventures, Dragonfly Capital, as well as Jack Ma’s protege Justin Sun, who is the founder of cryptocurrency platform Tron, among others. Animoca had earlier raised $88.9 million through a funding round in May that achieved unicorn status for the seven-year-old company.
The company made a name for itself with play-to-earn blockchain games that allow players to collect and trade NFTs on its platforms. An NFT is a digital asset stored on a blockchain that determines the ownership of objects like art, music, videos or in-game items. Among Animoca’s most popular titles is The Sandbox, which is similar to world-building video game Minecraft. Players of The Sandbox can create and monetize in-game assets such as lands, wearables and equipment.
Animoca said it plans to use the fresh capital to fund strategic investments, acquisitions, product development and licenses for intellectual properties. “The future is already here,” Yat Siu, cofounder and chairman of Animoca, said in a statement. “With the backing of our new strategic investors, Animoca Brands will continue to advance blockchain in gaming—and beyond—to introduce billions of gamers and internet users to true digital ownership.”
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The company’s latest funding round serves to highlight the rapidly growing popularity of NFTs. Trading volume for the tokens surged to $10.7 billion in the third quarter, a 704% jump from the previous quarter, according to an industry report released by DappRadar. Billionaire Elon Musk jumped on the bandwagon recently by selling a song as an NFT, while celebrities and sports stars such as Lindsay Lohan and Lionel Messi have begun to launch their own NFT collections. The red-hot space, however, has also drawn skeptics who say the nascent market is already looking frothy.
Established as a spinoff in 2014, Animoca started out by developing games for smartphones and tablets, some of which were based on cartoon characters like Garfield and Doraemon. The company first ventured into blockchain games in around 2017, and has since then released several hits including a play-to-earn racing game licensed by Formula 1.
Animoca has also been investing in blockchain companies that focus on NFT-related businesses. Its portfolio includes Dapper Labs, the firm behind pioneering blockchain game CryptoKitties, Sky Mavis, the developer of global sensation Axie Infinity, as well as OpenSea, the biggest marketplace for NFTs, according to DappRadar.