CryptoKitties Creator Raises $11 Million from Warner, A16z to Launch Own Blockchain

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Warner Music is collaborating with Dapper Labs, the company behind CryptoKitties, to create a new blockchain called Flow.

According to a story in Forbes Thursday, Dapper Labs has garnered $11 million in funding for the project, including investment from Warner. The round is led by Andreessen Horowitz, with other major venture firms like Union Square Ventures, Digital Currency Group, Venrock and Accomplice also participating.

In an email to CoinDesk, Venrock’s David Pakman said Flow is aimed at a specific games use-case:

“Ethereum and pretty much every other Layer 1 smart contracts platform [is] attempting to build scaleable networks for transactions — like payments. Decentralized gaming and things like cryptocollectibles place different scaling requirements on blockchains that sharding fundamentally doesn’t fix. So, Dapper is building Flow to allow decentralized games to scale to tens of millions of users.”

Pakman argues that the collectibles industry needs a purpose-built blockchain if major brands like Warner and the NBA are going to participate and bring their fanbases along for the ride.

Dapper Labs grew out of a $12 million venture round in 2018 that allowed it to spin out from its parent, Axiom Zen. Later that year it took in an additional $15 million in VC cash, working with many of the same funds.

Built for developers

In a technical primer shared with CoinDesk, Dapper Labs says that Flow is especially designed for “composability” where one developer can use code from one application in a wholly other one. It writes:

“Flow empowers developers to safely and easily build on top of each others’ code, creating entirely new products and services at an accelerating pace. This feature of blockchain, known as composability, has the potential to unlock a new approach to software development.”

Ethereum has been slowly evolving to meet growing demands for network capacity. At the same time, other blockchains with smart contract capabilities, such as KadenaEOS and Harmony have emerged, poised to scoop up users if Ethereum stumbles in its goal to become “the world computer.” Flow is the latest to join that line-up, but the first that emphasizes collectibles.

Also of note, the round includes a unique structure where backers initially receive equity that can be converted to tokens later for use on the chain (pending, as ever, approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission). This is a structure similar to what venture investors know as a convertible note, where debt is swapped for equity. All being well, Dapper Labs plans to launch Flow in 2020.

Photo of Kim Cope, product lead at Dapper Labs, from Consensus 2019 (CoinDesk archives)

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