Over the past few years, I’ve covered my fair share of novice avatar businesses that were all chasing the same dream: to create a customizable platform for a digital personality that has been widely adopted in games and digital spaces. Few of those startups that I have covered in the past still exist. But by forging a series of successful partnerships with famous musicians, Los Angeles-based Genies is closer than any startup before realizing the full vision of a massive avatar platform.
The company today announced that it has closed a $ 65 million Series B run by Mary Meeker’s Bond company. NEA, Breyer Capital, Tull Investment Group, NetEase, Dapper Labs and Coinbase Ventures also participated in the transaction. Mary Meeker will join the Genies Board of Directors. The company did not disclose the Genies’ latest assessment.
This funding is coming to an inflection point for the eight-year company, as evidenced by investments from NBA Top Shot maker Dapper Labs and crypto giant Coinbase. As announced last week, the company is deploying an NFT platform on Dapper Labs’ Flow blockchain, in close partnership with the startup, which will build the backend for a Genies avatar props showcase. Just as Dapper Labs has leveraged its exclusive deals with sports leagues to ship NFTs with official support, Genies plans to capitalize on its partnerships with celebrities on its roster, including Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Cardi B, and Dapper Labs. others to create a platform for buying and trading avatar accessories in mass.
In October, the company announced a brand partnership with Gucci, opening the startup to another great market opportunity.
Genies’ business has largely focused on leveraging high-level partnerships to give its artist clients a digital presence that can spice up what they share on social media and beyond. As they rolled out avatar creation to all users via beta mobile apps, Genies focused on one of the most explicit dreams of avatar companies before him; create a vast network of avatar users and a vast network of compatible platforms thanks to its SDK.
“An avatar is a way to further showcase your authentic personality,” Akash Nigam, CEO of Genies, told TechCrunch. “He’s not limited by the constraints of the real world, he’s an alter ego personality.”
Trends in the world of NFT have provided new areas of exploration for Genies, but so have the broader trends in the pandemic era that have pushed more users into fully digital spaces where they socialize and connect. “The pandemic has accelerated everything,” says Nigam.
Nigam points out that despite the major opportunity that his next NFT platform will present, Genies is still an avatar company foremost, not an NFT startup, although he says he believes crypto-backed digital products will be. there for a long time. He has little doubt that the current environment around digital products has helped fuel the funding cycle for Genies, which he said was “6-8X oversubscribed” and was an opportunistic game for the startup, which “Could have gone years without having to get up”.
The company says its crypto market will launch in the coming months, starting this summer.