OpenSea, one of the most talked about blockchain start-ups in Silicon Valley, said Tuesday it has raised $ 300 million in new venture capital, making it the latest company to cash in on the rush to fund cryptocurrency start-ups.
A new round of funding led by investment firms Paradigm and Cotu Management has raised the valuation of start-ups to 13 13.3 billion just four years after its inception. OpenCy has previously raised more than $ 100 million from a number of investors, including investment firm Andreessen Horowitz and actor Ashton Kutcher, according to data provided by the company.
Founded in 2017, OpenSea was created as a marketplace for people to buy and sell so-called NFTs or non-fungi tokens, a unique piece of digital code backed by blockchain technology.
NFT items may vary, but the most popular tokens are pieces of digital art created by artists who list their pieces for auction on an open site, such as a listing on eBay. Winning bids can sometimes reach thousands of dollars worth of ether, a popular cryptocurrency and blockchain technology associated with most types of NFTs.
As crypto-centric start-ups have become more popular in recent months, OpenSea has become a hub for enthusiasts to trade NFTs. It attracts the attention of investors who are eager to place increasingly large bets on the busy cryptocurrency space.
Private investment in NFT companies exceeded $ 3 billion in 2021, according to data compiled by Pitchbook, a firm that tracks private investments. Overall, investors invested more than $ 28 billion in cryptocurrency and NFT start-ups worldwide last year, Pitchbook said.
“In 2021, the world became aware of the potential of NFTs to unlock utility and economic empowerment across a wide range of industries, communities and creative categories,” said Devin Finzer, founder and chief executive of OpenCay. “Our vision is to be a growth destination for these newly opened digital economies.”
However, many cryptocurrency critics believe that the craze surrounding NFTs and blockchain technology is surrounded by suspicious activity. Last week, a brief controversy erupted around Opency when one of its supporters claimed that F 2.2 million worth of NFTs had been stolen from it. (OpenStation later froze the stolen assets and banned the trading of items on its site.)
Those concerns have not deterred technologists. Start-ups focusing on cryptocurrencies and NFTs are hiring employees from major tech companies such as Meta, Google and Amazon, attracting them with a promise to work on new – and potentially lucrative – technologies. Last year, Lift’s former chief financial officer Brian Roberts left the ride-hailing company to join Opency as his first chief financial officer. The company has also recently appointed Shiv Rajaraman, former vice-president of Metana Commerce, as vice-president of its products.
The company said it plans to use the new funds to add 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 mainstream customers, and will soon launch a grant program to support creators and blockchain builders in the NFT space.
News that OpenSea is seeking funding was previously reported by tech newsletter Newcomer.