Bored Ape Yacht Club creator raises $450 million at a $4 billion valuation.
Yuga Labs, owner of three of the biggest NFT brands on the market, announced today a $450 million funding round. The money will be used to create a media empire based on NFTs, starting with games and a metaverse project.
The team's Otherside metaverse project is an MMORPG meant to connect the larger NFT universe. They want to create “an interoperable world” that is “gamified” and “completely decentralized,” says Wylie Aronow, aka Gordon Goner, co-founder of Bored Ape Yacht Club. “We think the real Ready Player One experience will be player run.”
Just a few weeks ago, Yuga Labs announced the acquisition of CryptoPunks and Meebits from Larva Labs. The deal brought together three of the most valuable NFT collections, giving Yuga Labs more IP to work with when developing games and metaverses. Last week, ApeCoin was launched as a cryptocurrency that will be governed independently and used in Yuga Labs properties.
Otherside will be developed by “a few different game studios,” says Yuga Labs CEO Nicole Muniz. The company plans to create development tools that allow NFTs from other projects to work inside their world. “We're welcoming everyone into a walled garden.”
However, Yuga Labs believes that other companies are approaching metaverse projects incorrectly, allowing the startup to stand out. People won't bond spending time in a virtual space with nothing going on, says Yuga Labs co-founder Greg Solano, aka Gargamel. Instead, he says, people bond when forced to work together.
In order to avoid getting smacked, Solano advises making friends. “We don't think a Zoom chat and walking around saying ‘hi' creates a deep social experience.” Yuga Labs refused to provide a release date for Otherside. Later this year, a play-to-win game is planned.
The funding round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, a major investor in the Web3 space. It previously backed OpenSea and Coinbase. Animoca Brands, Coinbase, and MoonPay are among those who have invested. Andreessen Horowitz general partner Chris Lyons will join Yuga Labs' board. The Financial Times broke the story last month.
"META IS A DOMINANT DIGITAL EXPERIENCE PROVIDER IN A DYSTOPIAN FUTURE."
This emerging [Web3] ecosystem is important to me, as it is to companies like Meta,” Chris Dixon, head of Andreessen Horowitz's crypto arm, tells The Verge. “In a dystopian future, Meta is the dominant digital experience provider, and it controls all the money and power.” (Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Marc Andreessen sits on Meta's board and invested early in Facebook.)
Yuga Labs has been profitable so far. According to a leaked pitch deck, the company made $137 million last year, primarily from its NFT brands, with a 95% profit margin. (Yuga Labs declined to comment on deck figures.)
But the company has built little so far. According to OpenSea data, it has only released one game for a limited time. That means Yuga Labs gets hundreds of millions of dollars to build a gaming company from scratch, based on a hugely lucrative art project.
Investors fund Yuga Labs based on its success. That's what they did, says Dixon, “they created a culture phenomenon”. But ultimately, the company is betting on the same thing that so many others are: that a metaverse project will be the next big thing. Now they must construct it.
More on Web3 & Crypto
1 year ago
What's the difference between Proof-of-Time and Proof-of-History?
Blockchain validates transactions with consensus algorithms. Bitcoin and Ethereum use Proof-of-Work, while Polkadot and Cardano use Proof-of-Stake.
Other consensus protocols are used to verify transactions besides these two. This post focuses on Proof-of-Time (PoT), used by Analog, and Proof-of-History (PoH), used by Solana as a hybrid consensus protocol.
PoT and PoH may seem similar to users, but they are actually very different protocols.
Analog developed Proof-of-Time (PoT) based on Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS). Users select "delegates" to validate the next block in DPoS. PoT uses a ranking system, and validators stake an equal amount of tokens. Validators also "self-select" themselves via a verifiable random function."
The ranking system gives network validators a performance score, with trustworthy validators with a long history getting higher scores. System also considers validator's fixed stake. PoT's ledger is called "Timechain."
Voting on delegates borrows from DPoS, but there are changes. PoT's first voting stage has validators (or "time electors" putting forward a block to be included in the ledger).
Validators are chosen randomly based on their ranking score and fixed stake. One validator is chosen at a time using a Verifiable Delay Function (VDF).
Validators use a verifiable delay function to determine if they'll propose a Timechain block. If chosen, they validate the transaction and generate a VDF proof before submitting both to other Timechain nodes.
This leads to the second process, where the transaction is passed through 1,000 validators selected using the same method. Each validator checks the transaction to ensure it's valid.
If the transaction passes, validators accept the block, and if over 2/3 accept it, it's added to the Timechain.
Proof-of-History is a consensus algorithm that proves when a transaction occurred. PoH uses a VDF to verify transactions, like Proof-of-Time. Similar to Proof-of-Work, VDFs use a lot of computing power to calculate but little to verify transactions, similar to (PoW).
This shows users and validators how long a transaction took to verify.
PoH uses VDFs to verify event intervals. This process uses cryptography to prevent determining output from input.
The outputs of one transaction are used as inputs for the next. Timestamps record the inputs' order. This checks if data was created before an event.
PoT vs. PoH
PoT and PoH differ in that:
PoT uses VDFs to select validators (or time electors), while PoH measures time between events.
PoH uses a VDF to validate transactions, while PoT uses a ranking system.
PoT's VDF-elected validators verify transactions proposed by a previous validator. PoH uses a VDF to validate transactions and data.
Both Proof-of-Time (PoT) and Proof-of-History (PoH) validate blockchain transactions differently. PoT uses a ranking system to randomly select validators to verify transactions.
PoH uses a Verifiable Delay Function to validate transactions, verify how much time has passed between two events, and allow validators to quickly verify a transaction without malicious actors knowing the input.
1 year ago
Framework to Evaluate Metaverse and Web3
Everywhere we turn, there's a new metaverse or Web3 debut. Microsoft recently announced a $68.7 BILLION cash purchase of Activision.
Like AI in 2013 and blockchain in 2014, NFT growth in 2021 feels like this year's metaverse and Web3 growth. We are all bombarded with information, conflicting signals, and a sensation of FOMO.
How can we evaluate the metaverse and Web3 in a noisy, new world? My framework for evaluating upcoming technologies and themes is shown below. I hope you will also find them helpful.
Understand the “pipes” in a new space.
Whatever people say, Metaverse and Web3 will have to coexist with the current Internet. Companies who host, move, and store data over the Internet have a lot of intriguing use cases in Metaverse and Web3, whether in infrastructure, data analytics, or compliance. Hence the following point.
## Understand the apps layer and their infrastructure.
Gaming, crypto exchanges, and NFT marketplaces would not exist today if not for technology that enables rapid app creation. Yes, according to Chainalysis and other research, 30–40% of Ethereum is self-hosted, with the rest hosted by large cloud providers. For Microsoft to acquire Activision makes strategic sense. It's not only about the games, but also the infrastructure that supports them.
Follow the money
Understanding how money and wealth flow in a complex and dynamic environment helps build clarity. Unless you are exceedingly wealthy, you have limited ability to significantly engage in the Web3 economy today. Few can just buy 10 ETH and spend it in one day. You must comprehend who benefits from the process, and how that 10 ETH circulates now and possibly tomorrow. Major holders and players control supply and liquidity in any market. Today, most Web3 apps are designed to increase capital inflow so existing significant holders can utilize it to create a nascent Web3 economy. When you see a new Metaverse or Web3 application, remember how money flows.
What is the use case?
What does the app do? If there is no clear use case with clear makers and consumers solving a real problem, then the euphoria soon fades, and the only stakeholders who remain enthused are those who have too much to lose.
Time is a major competition that is often overlooked.
We're only busier, but each day is still 24 hours. Using new apps may mean that time is lost doing other things. The user must be eager to learn. Metaverse and Web3 vs. our time? I don't think we know the answer yet (at least for working adults whose cost of time is higher).
I don't think we know the answer yet (at least for working adults whose cost of time is higher).
People and organizations need security and transparency.
For new technologies or apps to be widely used, they must be safe, transparent, and trustworthy. What does secure Metaverse and Web3 mean? This is an intriguing subject for both the business and public sectors. Cloud adoption grew in part due to improved security and data protection regulations.
The following frameworks can help analyze and understand new technologies and emerging technological topics, unless you are a significant investment fund with the financial ability to gamble on numerous initiatives and essentially form your own “index fund”.
I write on VC, startups, and leadership.
This writing is my own opinion and does not represent investment advice.
11 months ago
Why Cryptocurrency Is Not Dead Despite the FTX Scam
A fraud, free-market, antifragility tale
Crypto's only rival is public opinion.
In less than a week, mainstream media, bloggers, and TikTokers turned on FTX's founder.
While some were surprised, almost everyone with a keyboard and a Twitter account predicted the FTX collapse. These financial oracles should have warned the 1.2 million people Sam Bankman-Fried duped.
After happening, unexpected events seem obvious to our brains. It's a bug and a feature because it helps us cope with disasters and makes our reasoning suck.
Nobody predicted the FTX debacle. Bloomberg? Politicians. Non-famous. No cryptologists. Who?
When FTX imploded, taking billions of dollars with it, an outrage bomb went off, and the resulting shockwave threatens the crypto market's existence.
As someone who lost more than $78,000 in a crypto scam in 2020, I can only understand people’s reactions. When the dust settles and rationality returns, we'll realize this is a natural occurrence in every free market.
What specifically occurred with FTX? (Skip if you are aware.)
FTX is a cryptocurrency exchange where customers can trade with cash. It reached #3 in less than two years as the fastest-growing platform of its kind.
FTX's performance helped make SBF the crypto poster boy. Other reasons include his altruistic public image, his support for the Democrats, and his company Alameda Research.
Alameda Research made a fortune arbitraging Bitcoin.
Arbitrage trading uses small price differences between two markets to make money. Bitcoin costs $20k in Japan and $21k in the US. Alameda Research did that for months, making $1 million per day.
Later, as its capital grew, Alameda expanded its trading activities and began investing in other companies.
Let's now discuss FTX.
SBF's diabolic master plan began when he used FTX-created FTT coins to inflate his trading company's balance sheets. He used inflated Alameda numbers to secure bank loans.
SBF used money he printed himself as collateral to borrow billions for capital. Coindesk exposed him in a report.
One of FTX's early investors tweeted that he planned to sell his FTT coins over the next few months. This would be a minor event if the investor wasn't Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ).
The crypto space saw a red WARNING sign when CZ cut ties with FTX. Everyone with an FTX account and a brain withdrew money. Two events followed. FTT fell from $20 to $4 in less than 72 hours, and FTX couldn't meet withdrawal requests, spreading panic.
SBF reassured FTX users on Twitter. Good assets.
SBF falsely claimed FTX had a liquidity crunch. At the time of his initial claims, FTX owed about $8 billion to its customers. Liquidity shortages are usually minor. To get cash, sell assets. In the case of FTX, the main asset was printed FTT coins.
Sam wouldn't get out of trouble even if he slashed the discount (from $20 to $4) and sold every FTT. He'd flood the crypto market with his homemade coins, causing the price to crash.
SBF was trapped. He approached Binance about a buyout, which seemed good until Binance looked at FTX's books.
Binance's tweet ended SBF, and he had to apologize, resign as CEO, and file for bankruptcy.
Bloomberg estimated Sam's net worth to be zero by the end of that week. 0!
But that's not all. Twitter investigations exposed fraud at FTX and Alameda Research. SBF used customer funds to trade and invest in other companies.
Thanks to the Twitter indie reporters who made the mainstream press look amateurish. Some Twitter detectives didn't sleep for 30 hours to find answers. Others added to existing threads. Memes were hilarious.
One question kept repeating in my bald head as I watched the Blue Bird. Sam, WTF?
Then I understood.
SBF wanted that FTX becomes a bank.
Think about this. FTX seems healthy a few weeks ago. You buy 2 bitcoins using FTX. You'd expect the platform to take your dollars and debit your wallet, right?
No. They give I-Owe-Yous.
FTX records owing you 2 bitcoins in its internal ledger but doesn't credit your account. Given SBF's tricks, I'd bet on nothing.
What happens if they don't credit my account with 2 bitcoins? Your money goes into FTX's capital, where SBF and his friends invest in marketing, political endorsements, and buying other companies.
Over its two-year existence, FTX invested in 130 companies. Once they make a profit on their purchases, they'll pay you and keep the rest.
One detail makes their strategy dumb. If all FTX customers withdraw at once, everything collapses.
Financially savvy people think FTX's collapse resembles a bank run, and they're right. SBF designed FTX to operate like a bank.
You expect your bank to open a drawer with your name and put $1,000 in it when you deposit $1,000. They deposit $100 in your drawer and create an I-Owe-You for $900. What happens to $900?
Let's sum it up: It's boring and headache-inducing.
When you deposit money in a bank, they can keep 10% and lend the rest. Fractional Reserve Banking is a popular method. Fractional reserves operate within and across banks.
Fractional reserve banking generates $10,000 for every $1,000 deposited. People will pay off their debt plus interest.
As long as banks work together and the economy grows, their model works well.
SBF tried to replicate the system but forgot two details. First, traditional banks need verifiable collateral like real estate, jewelry, art, stocks, and bonds, not digital coupons. Traditional banks developed a liquidity buffer. The Federal Reserve (or Central Bank) injects massive cash into troubled banks.
Massive cash injections come from taxpayers. You and I pay for bankers' mistakes and annual bonuses. Yes, you may think banking is rigged. It's rigged, but it's the best financial game in 150 years. We accept its flaws, including bailouts for too-big-to-fail companies.
SBF wanted Binance's bailout. Binance said no, which was good for the crypto market.
Free markets are resilient.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined the term antifragility.
“Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”
The easiest way to understand how antifragile systems behave is to compare them with other types of systems.
Glass is like a fragile system. It snaps when shocked.
Similar to rubber, a resilient system. After a stressful episode, it bounces back.
A system that is antifragile is similar to a muscle. As it is torn in the gym, it gets stronger.
Time-changed things are antifragile. Culture, tech innovation, restaurants, revolutions, book sales, cuisine, economic success, and even muscle shape. These systems benefit from shocks and randomness in different ways, but they all pay a price for antifragility.
Same goes for the free market and financial institutions. Taleb's book uses restaurants as an example and ends with a reference to the 2008 crash.
“Restaurants are fragile. They compete with each other. But the collective of local restaurants is antifragile for that very reason. Had restaurants been individually robust, hence immortal, the overall business would be either stagnant or weak and would deliver nothing better than cafeteria food — and I mean Soviet-style cafeteria food. Further, it [the overall business] would be marred with systemic shortages, with once in a while a complete crisis and government bailout.”
Imagine the same thing with banks.
Independent banks would compete to offer the best services. If one of these banks fails, it will disappear. Customers and investors will suffer, but the market will recover from the dead banks' mistakes.
This idea underpins a free market. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies say this when criticizing traditional banking.
The traditional banking system's components never die. When a bank fails, the Federal Reserve steps in with a big taxpayer-funded check. This hinders bank evolution. If you don't let banking cells die and be replaced, your financial system won't be antifragile.
The interdependence of banks (centralization) means that one bank's mistake can sink the entire fleet, which brings us to SBF's ultimate travesty with FTX.
FTX has left the cryptocurrency gene pool.
FTX should be decentralized and independent. The super-star scammer invested in more than 130 crypto companies and linked them, creating a fragile banking-like structure. FTX seemed to say, "We exist because centralized banks are bad." But we'll be good, unlike the centralized banking system.
FTX saved several companies, including BlockFi and Voyager Digital.
FTX wanted to be a crypto bank conglomerate and Federal Reserve. SBF wanted to monopolize crypto markets. FTX wanted to be in bed with as many powerful people as possible, so SBF seduced politicians and celebrities.
Worst? People who saw SBF's plan flaws praised him. Experts, newspapers, and crypto fans praised FTX. When billions pour in, it's hard to realize FTX was acting against its nature.
Then, they act shocked when they realize FTX's fall triggered a domino effect. Some say the damage could wipe out the crypto market, but that's wrong.
Cell death is different from body death.
FTX is out of the game despite its size. Unfit, it fell victim to market natural selection.
The challengers keep coming. The crypto economy will improve with each failure.
Free markets are antifragile because their fragile parts compete, fostering evolution. With constructive feedback, evolution benefits customers and investors.
FTX shows that customers don't like being scammed, so the crypto market's health depends on them. Charlatans and con artists are eliminated quickly or slowly.
Crypto isn't immune to collapse. Cryptocurrencies can go extinct like biological species. Antifragility isn't immortality. A few more decades of evolution may be enough for humans to figure out how to best handle money, whether it's bitcoin, traditional banking, gold, or something else.
Keep your BS detector on. Start by being skeptical of this article's finance-related claims. Even if you think you understand finance, join the conversation.
We build a better future through dialogue. So listen, ask, and share. When you think you can't find common ground with the opposing view, remember:
Sam Bankman-Fried lied.
You might also like
1 year ago
Payouts to founders at IPO
How much do startup founders make after an IPO? We looked at 2018's major tech IPOs. Paydays aren't what founders took home at the IPO (shares are normally locked up for 6 months), but what they were worth at the IPO price on the day the firm went public. It's not cash, but it's nice. Here's the data.
Several points are noteworthy.
Huge payoffs. Median and average pay were $399m and $918m. Average and median homeownership were 9% and 12%.
Coinbase, Uber, UI Path. Uber, Zoom, Spotify, UI Path, and Coinbase founders raised billions. Zoom's founder owned 19% and Spotify's 28% and 13%. Brian Armstrong controlled 20% of Coinbase at IPO and was worth $15bn. Preserving as much equity as possible by staying cash-efficient or raising at high valuations also helps.
The smallest was Ping. Ping's compensation was the smallest. Andre Duand owned 2% but was worth $20m at IPO. That's less than some billion-dollar paydays, but still good.
IPOs can be lucrative, as you can see. Preserving equity could be the difference between a $20mm and $15bln payday (Coinbase).
10 months ago
The survival and demise of Y Combinator startups
I've written a lot about Y Combinator's success, but as any startup founder or investor knows, many startups fail.
Rebel Fund invests in the top 5-10% of new Y Combinator startups each year, so we focus on identifying and supporting the most promising technology startups in our ecosystem. Given the power law dynamic and asymmetric risk/return profile of venture capital, we worry more about our successes than our failures. Since the latter still counts, this essay will focus on the proportion of YC startups that fail.
Since YC's launch in 2005, the figure below shows the percentage of active, inactive, and public/acquired YC startups by batch.
As more startups finish, the blue bars (active) decrease significantly. By 12 years, 88% of startups have closed or exited. Only 7% of startups reach resolution each year.
YC startups by status after 12 years:
Half the startups have failed, over one-third have exited, and the rest are still operating.
In venture investing, it's said that failed investments show up before successful ones. This is true for YC startups, but only in their early years.
Below, we only present resolved companies from the first chart. Some companies fail soon after establishment, but after a few years, the inactive vs. public/acquired ratio stabilizes around 55:45. After a few years, a YC firm is roughly as likely to quit as fail, which is better than I imagined.
I prepared this post because Rebel investors regularly question me about YC startup failure rates and how long it takes for them to exit or shut down.
Early-stage venture investors can overlook it because 100x investments matter more than 0x investments.
YC founders can ignore it because it shouldn't matter if many of their peers succeed or fail ;)
1 year ago
Has anyone noticed what an absolute shitshow LinkedIn is?
After viewing its insanity, I had to leave this platform.
I joined LinkedIn recently. That's how I aim to increase my readership and gain recognition. LinkedIn's premise appealed to me: a Facebook-like platform for professional networking.
I don't use Facebook since it's full of propaganda. It seems like a professional, apolitical space, right?
I expected people to:
be more formal and respectful than on Facebook.
Talk about the inclusiveness of the workplace. Studies consistently demonstrate that inclusive, progressive workplaces outperform those that adhere to established practices.
Talk about business in their industry. Yep. I wanted to read articles with advice on how to write better and reach a wider audience.
Oh, sh*t. I hadn't anticipated that.
After posting and reading about inclusivity and pro-choice, I was startled by how many professionals acted unprofessionally. I've seen:
Men have approached me in the DMs in a really aggressive manner. Yikes. huge yikes Not at all professional.
I've heard pro-choice women referred to as infant killers by many people. If I were the CEO of a company and I witnessed one of my employees acting that poorly, I would immediately fire them.
Many posts are anti-LGBTQIA+, as I've noticed. a lot, like, a lot. Some are subtly stating that the world doesn't need to know, while others are openly making fun of transgender persons like myself.
Several medical professionals were posting explicitly racist comments. Even if you are as white as a sheet like me, you should be alarmed by this. Who's to guarantee a patient who is black won't unintentionally die?
I won't even get into how many men in STEM I observed pushing for the exclusion of women from their fields. I shouldn't be surprised considering the majority of those men I've encountered have a passionate dislike for women, but goddamn, dude.
Many people appear entirely too at ease displaying their bigotry on their professional profiles.
As a white female, I'm always shocked by people's open hostility. Professional environments are very important.
I don't know if this is still true (people seem too politicized to care), but if I heard many of these statements in person, I'd suppose they feel ashamed. Really.
Are you not ashamed of being so mean? Are you so weak that competing with others terrifies you? Isn't this embarrassing?
LinkedIn isn't great at censoring offensive comments. These people aren't getting warnings. So they were safe while others were unsafe.
The CEO in me would want to know if I had placed a bigot on my staff.
I always wondered if people's employers knew about their online behavior. If they know how horrible they appear, they don't care.
As a manager, I was picky about hiring. Obviously. In most industries, it costs $1,000 or more to hire a full-time employee, so be sure it pays off.
Companies that embrace diversity and tolerance (and are intolerant of intolerance) are more profitable, likely to recruit top personnel, and successful.
People avoid businesses that alienate them. That's why I don't eat at Chic-Fil-A and why folks avoid MyPillow. Being inclusive is good business.
CEOs are harmed by online bigots. Image is an issue. If you're a business owner, you can fire staff who don't help you.
On the one hand, I'm delighted it makes it simpler to identify those with whom not to do business.
Don’t get me wrong. I'm glad I know who to avoid when hiring, getting references, or searching for a job. When people are bad, it saves me time.
What's up with professionalism?
Really. I need to know. I've crossed the boundary between acceptable and unacceptable behavior, but never on a professional platform. I got in trouble for not wearing bras even though it's not part of my gender expression.
If I behaved like that at my last two office jobs, my supervisors would have fired me immediately. Some of the behavior I've seen is so outrageous, I can't believe these people have employment. Some are even leaders.
Like…how? Is hatred now normalized?
Please pay attention whether you're seeking for a job or even simply a side gig.
Do not add to the tragedy that LinkedIn comments can be, or at least don't make uninformed comments. Even if you weren't banned, the site may still bite you.
Recruiters can and do look at your activity. Your writing goes on your résumé. The wrong comment might lose you a job.
Recruiters and CEOs might reject candidates whose principles contradict with their corporate culture. Bigotry will get you banned from many companies, especially if others report you.
If you want a high-paying job, avoid being a LinkedIn asshole. People care even if you think no one does. Before speaking, ponder. Is this how you want to be perceived?
If your politics might turn off an employer, stop posting about them online and ask yourself why you hold such objectionable ideas.