According to PitchBook, in 2021, non-fungible tokens (NFT) companies raised over $3 billion in private investments. The report noted that the investors pumped in over $28 billion into global cryptocurrency and NFT startups last year. Opening the bar for NFT startups, OpenSea, a decentralised P2P marketplace for buying and selling cryptographic collectibles and NFTs, has bagged investment early in 2022.
The Silicon Valley-based NFT auction marketplace has raised $300 million in a new venture capital investment round led by Paradigm and Coatue Management. With this, the company has now reached a staggering valuation of $13.3 billion in just four years of its debut. Prior to this, Open Sea raised over $100 million from a slew of investors, including the investment firm Andreessen Horowitz and the actor Ashton Kutcher. Back then, its valuation was $1.5 billion.
OpenSea plans to use the fresh funds to grow its team of over 90 employees and double the size of its trust and safety team. Also, it plans to invest heavily in product development to make its blockchain technology more accessible to mainstream consumers. Furthermore, it will soon launch a grant program to support creators and blockchain builders in the NFT space.
First NFT auction marketplace
Founded in 2017 by Devin Finzer and Alex Atallah, OpenSea was the first marketplace for NFT aka non-fungible token on the Ethereum blockchain. It lets people buy and sell NFTs, which are unique pieces of digital code backed by blockchain technology.
NFT items can vary, but the most popular tokens are pieces of digital art created by artists as they list their pieces for auction on the company’s website, which is any listing on eBay. In some cases, the winning bids can reach several thousands of dollars worth of Ethereum.
Now, OpenSea is among the largest general marketplaces for user-owned digital items. It supports multiple blockchains with broad categories and offers the best prices for new emerging digital item classes.
While OpenSea intends to grow its team further, it recently appointed Shiva Rajaraman as its new VP of Product. Previously, he served at Meta as the VP of Commerce. Before that, he has worked with YouTube, Spotify, and WeWork. In 2021, Brian Roberts, the former chief financial officer at Lyft joined OpenSea as its first chief financial officer.
Era of NFTs, cryptocurrency
Given the popularity of cryptocurrency in recent months, OpenSea has gained the traction of those who want to trade NFTs. Eventually, it has attracted the attention of investors who place large bets in the cryptocurrency space.
While cryptocurrency is the trend everywhere, OpenSea is facing minimal competition from other NFT marketplaces for now. It looks like the situation might change anytime soon as Coinbase is gaining traction and other such marketplaces are also launching and receiving investment for their growth. To remain competitive, OpenSea will focus on enticing newbies into the world of crypto collectibles.
“In 2021, the world woke up to the potential of NFTs to unlock utility and economic empowerment across a vast set of industries, communities and creative categories,” said Devin Finzer, one of the founders and the chief executive of OpenSea. “Our vision is to be the destination for these new open digital economies to thrive.”
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