MakersPlace, one of the original NFT marketplaces, announced a $30 million Series A round of venture financing today. The deal was led by Bessemer Venture Partners and Pantera Capital. Significantly, it also includes a range of backers from the venture arm of Coinbase, a crypto-currency exchange and Sony Music Entertainment to a number of individuals who play important roles in the worlds of sports, music and art.
The most prominent art names involved in the funding round are Acquavella Galleries, former Sotheby’s CEO Bill Ruprecht, and Sabrina Hahn, who is a director at Pace as well as an investor in NFT platforms Opensea and SuperRare through her family’s Asia Alpha venture firm. From sports, MakersPlace has Shari Glazer and Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. putting in money; and music is represented by Eminem and Paul Rosenberg.
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Speaking of the volatile market for blockchain-based assets like crypto-currencies and NFTs, Dannie Chu, co-founder of MarkersPlace with his former Pinterest colleague, Yash Nelapati, and Ryoma Ito, said in an interview that “you’ll probably hear from us again in six months when we have a billion-dollar valuation.” Opensea raised $23 million in March only to return to the venture market two weeks ago and garner another $100 million at a $1.5 billion valuation.
Chu insists the $30 million war chest he has secured for MakersPlace will provide the company with “a couple of years of funding” even if the NFT markets go South . Although the value of NFTs is widely assumed to be tied to the price of crypto-currencies like ETH, Chu and his colleagues are focused on building a path toward better ownership models for digital creators.
MakersPlace played a central role in the emergence of NFTs in the art market. The platform sourced, minted, and brought to market Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days which sold for $69.3 million at Christie’s in March. The company claims more than $100 million in sales volume over the last 12 months; however, that figure does include the $69.3 million paid for the Beeple. Volume isn’t the only metric that has risen dramatically. MakersPlace also cites a ten-fold increase in the number of collectors active on the platform since last August.