Funding is flowing into metaverse ventures and broader web3 and crypto endeavors. Since March 2021, sales of non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”) have made headlines – both for the eye-watering prices that some were commanding at auction and for the potential for NFTs to become a robust market, as brands appeared to be eager to market themselves and connect with consumers by way of these relatively novel pieces of technology. For Q3 in 2021, Forbes reported that the sale of NFTs had amounted to $10.7 billion in Q3 2021, a more than 8-fold increase from the previous quarter. As of January 2022, the monthly volume of NFT sales on the OpenSea marketplace hit an all-time high of $5 billion.
Fast forward to October 2021 and Facebook, Inc.’s announcement that it would rebrand to Meta, Inc. in furtherance of a shift away from being a social media company to becoming “a metaverse company,” seemingly solidified a larger shift among companies that a blend of “real” and virtual worlds is the future.
Against that background, brands have launched various ventures in the metaverse – from Gucci’s Garden pop-up in the Roblox metaverse (complete with virtual Gucci-branded handbags and apparel) to Nike’s “Nikeland” experience – and at the same time, rushed to file trademark applications for registration for their current (or far more frequently, their impending) uses of their trademarks on virtual goods/services and NFTs.
All the while, cash has been flowing into the space (with more than $2 billion and $62.8 billion being invested in augmented reality ventures and virtual world projects, respectively, in 2021, per CrunchBase), and at least a one major acquisition has taken place. With so much activity underway when it comes to the virtual world, from metaverse ventures to crypto funds, we have compiled a tacker of investments and M&A events to provide a broad overview of which players are fundraising, merging, and what the trajectory of this segment of the market – which only appears to be gaining in steam – looks like more generally.
May 11, 2023 – CLO Virtual Fashion & Epic Games Invest in the Future of Digital Fashion
CLO Virtual Fashion, a global leader in digital garment solutions, and Epic Games, the developer of Unreal Engine, announced that they have purchased shares in one another. “We strongly believe that digital garments will play a significant role in the future of digital entertainment and metaverse platforms,” said Simon Kim, CEO of CLO Virtual Fashion, which boasts “a comprehensive ecosystem of products including 3D garment design software, a digital CMS and collaboration platform, and an open marketplace and community where thousands of true-to-life garment designs are bought, sold, and showcased.”
“Bringing high-quality digital fashion into real-time virtual worlds is complex and can be a creative barrier for digital fashion creators. It is exciting to see how CLO Virtual Fashion’s solutions work with Unreal Engine to help designers across industries make life-like digital fashion garments,” said Kim Libreri, Chief Technology Officer at Epic Games, the developer behind Fortnite.
Apr. 25, 2023 – Universal Ledger Raises $10M for Wallet-as-a-Service
Universal Ledger raised $10 million in funding via SAFE notes led by Hard Yaka. Led by CEO Kirk Chapman, the Chicago-based crypto startup enables users to build their own crypto wallets via its wallet-as-a-service platform, “providing developers and engineers with an API and event-driven architecture on which they can build compliant digital wallet experiences that allow assets to be moved globally, in real time.”
Apr. 14, 2023 – MonkeDAO Acquires Solana Monkey Business IP for $2M
MonkeDAO, the decentralized autonomous organization set up by owners of the Solana Monkey Business NFT collection, has acquired the project’s IP, including “all rights, assets, accounts and keys from HadesDAO” for $2 million following a community vote. “MonkeDAO believes the SMB project and all holders of the SMB Gen2 NFTs will benefit from this acquisition and that HadesDAO will benefit more from money in its treasury rather than maintaining ownership of the SMB project,” MonkeDAO said.
Mar. 20, 2023 – Illumix Raises $18M in Series A Round
Illumix has raised $18 million in a Series A round involving LightShed Ventures, Henry Kravis, co-founder of KKR & Co, Matthew Ball, Mark Cuban, Sony Innovation Fund, RW3 Ventures, OV, Visible Ventures and Xavier Niel. The San Francisco-based startup, which was founded by Kirin Sinha, describes itself as offering up “a low-code augmented reality (AR) software that enables marketing leaders, and creative executives to easily make immersive AR experiences, without the need for technical expertise.” This funding follows from an $8.6 million seed round in 2018.
“Illumix is enabling high-quality and real-time virtual try-on which has implications for the fashion industry ranging from higher conversion rates, fewer returns, and more environmentally-friendly. While we have started with accessories, eventually virtual try-on will apply to every category and be as regular a part of online shopping as product images or reviews are today,” Sinha said.
Mar. 14, 2023 – DressX Raises $15M in Series A
DressX has raised $15 million in a Series A round led by Greenfield with participation from Slow Ventures, Warner Music, The Artemis Fund, and Red Dao, among others. The multi-brand retailer of digital fashion clothing will use the new cash to “scale its vision of the future of fashion, ensure interoperability of the digital fashion assets offered by DressX, and improve the performance of the DressX app and non-fungible-token (NFT) marketplace.”
This is a short (and incomplete) excerpt from a data set that is published exclusively for TFL Enterprise subscribers. For access to our up-to-date web3 investment and M&A tracker, inquire today about how to sign up for an Enterprise subscription.