Dapper Labs, the company behind the Ethereum-based crypto collectible game, CryptoKitties, announced today they have secured $15 million in additional financing led by Venrock, with participation from GV (formerly Google Ventures), and Samsung NEXT.
The Vancouver-based Dapper Labs was spun out of parent company Axiom Zen to continue working on CryptoKitties in February 2018. According to the press release, the funds from this round of financing will be used to help the company expand by creating a US subsidiary, hiring additional staff for the Canadian office and to accelerate infrastructure build-out.
The participation by both Google and Samsung in this funding round brings Dapper Labs additional name recognition as it works towards those mainstream goals. It also highlights the growing acknowledgment by technology leaders of the potential mainstream applications in games and entertainment that crypto companies aspire towards. The investment by Samsung is particularly interesting as rival HTC had already partnered with the brand to have a dedicated app on its ‘blockchain phone’, the HTC EXODUS 1.
Building the CryptoKitties Team from Media and Gaming Industries
In this funding round, Dapper Labs also appears to be focused on adding veterans from the media and gaming industries to the CryptoKitties team as opposed to bulking up its technical blockchain expertise.
The press release notes that Dapper Labs will bring in former Disney and Unity executives to the lead the new US subsidiary. It also notes that the hires in the Canadian office will be from Ubisoft, EA Sports, Amazon, ESPN, Hasbro, and Zynga. While all of those companies obviously have a technology component to them, they’re not the typical hires of a blockchain or crypto firm who tend to recruit primarily from the finance or technology specific industries.
As Dapper Labs attempts to build entertainment and gaming brands that appeal to the mainstream consumer the experience of team members from those established brands will be invaluable. Most crypto decentralized applications (dApps) suffer from poor user interfaces and experiences, so bringing in experience from top-tier digital brands to create games and entertainment should help to keep Dapper Labs latest projects user-friendly.
The end goal of all dApps such as CryptoKitties should be for users to take advantage of all the aspects that building on top of the blockchain and digital assets can provide without the end user needing to know anything about blockchain or crypto.
Even though CryptoKitties is built on top of the Ethereum blockchain and utilizes the ERC-721 standard for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to the end user they are just happy to trade their interesting looking digital collectible cats. That appears to be the key value that Dapper Labs is attempting to bring to the space and the one that was the most interesting to the lead investors in this financing round.