OpenSea, one of the most talked about blockchain startups in Silicon Valley, said Tuesday it had raised $ 300 million in new venture capital, making it the newest company to get out of a rush to fund cryptocurrency startups benefits.
The new round of funding, led by investment firms Paradigm and Coatue Management, brings the startup’s value to a staggering $ 13.3 billion just four years after it was founded. OpenSea has previously raised more than $ 100 million from a variety of investors, including investment firm Andreessen Horowitz and actor Ashton Kutcher, according to the company.
OpenSea was founded in 2017 and was created as a marketplace for people to buy and sell called NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are unique digital codes powered by blockchain technology.
NFT items can vary, but the most popular tokens are digital works of art created by artists who put their pieces up for auction on the OpenSea site, similar to eBay. Winning bids can sometimes reach hundreds of thousands of dollars on Ethereum, a popular cryptocurrency and blockchain technology associated with most types of NFTs.
As crypto-focused startups have become increasingly popular in recent months, OpenSea has become the hub for enthusiasts to trade NFTs. This has caught the attention of investors looking to place bigger and bigger bets on the busy cryptocurrency space.
More than $ 3 billion in private investment flowed in NFT companies in 2021, according to data from PitchBook, a company that tracks private investment. In total, investors poured more than $ 28 billion into cryptocurrency and NFT startups worldwide last year, according to PitchBook.
“In 2021, the world saw the potential of NFTs to unlock utility and economic empowerment in a variety of industries, communities and creative categories,” said Devin Finzer, co-founder and CEO of OpenSea. “Our vision is to be the destination for these new open digital economies to thrive.”
Still, many cryptocurrency critics consider the hustle and bustle surrounding NFTs and blockchain technology to be a fad plagued by questionable activity. There was a brief controversy surrounding OpenSea last week after one of its patrons claimed so $ 2.2 million worth of NFTs were stolen by him. (OpenSea later froze the stolen assets and banned the items from being traded on its website.)
These worries haven’t stopped technologists. Start-ups with a focus on cryptocurrencies and NFTs are Recruiting multitudes of employees from large technology companies like Meta, Google and Amazon and lures them with the promise to work on new – and potentially lucrative – technologies. Last year, Lyft’s former CFO Brian Roberts left the driving services company to join OpenSea as its first CFO. The company also recently hired Shiva Rajaraman, a former Vice President of Commerce at Meta, as Vice President of Product.
The company said it plans to use the new funds to add to its 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 consumers and will soon launch a grant program to support developers and blockchain builders in the NFT space.
The news that OpenSea was seeking funding was earlier reported from the tech newsletter Newcomer.