On September 22, Chiru Labs, the parent company of Japanese anime-style NFT project Azuki, raised $30 million in its latest Series A financing, raising its valuation to $300-400 million. However, the news of the financing has not been confirmed by Chiru Labs. But two other blue-chip NFT projects received an exact capital infusion.
On September 13, Doodles, a hand-painted cartoon character NFT project, completed a $54 million financing at a valuation of $704 million. Investors include institutions such as Seven Seven Six, FTX Ventures and 10T Holdings. Doodles said the financing will be used to expand the team, product development and technology.
On August 30, PROOF, the parent company of Moonbirds, the owl pixel avatar NFT project, completed a $50 million Series A financing. This round of financing was led by a16z, with participation from Flamingo DAO, Vayner Fund and Seven Seven Six.
In less than a month, the NFT blue-chip sector has completed at least 2 large financing events at the level of tens of millions of dollars, which is particularly conspicuous in the crypto bear market. Some people in the industry believe that the financing of blue-chip NFT projects is self-rescue in the bear market, and it is better to prepare food and grass for the winter.
Indeed, since the second quarter of this year, the transaction volume of NFTs has fallen off a cliff. NFTGO data shows that since May this year, the daily trading volume of the NFT market has been about 200-300 million US dollars, which is 90% lower than the average daily trading volume of 2-3 billion US dollars during the peak period from January to April this year.
The shrinking transaction volume has directly hit the royalties, the main source of profit for NFT projects. To make matters worse, the royalty model of NFTs is still being transformed by some trading platforms to royalty-free or adjustable royalties to increase users’ willingness to buy. This is very unfavorable for NFT entrepreneurial projects, and objectively forces them to innovate gameplay and find new business or development models.
As second-tier blue-chip projects, NFT projects such as Azuki, Doodles, and Moonbird, which started from social avatars, need to complete differentiated transformation, and transformation or upgrading requires costs. Financing is undoubtedly the best way, but to gain the favor of capital, you must let Hot money sees growth. It can be seen that all three projects are working hard to remove the label that NFTs are small pictures.
Azuki moves airdrop gameplay into the Metaverse
The news that Azuki has received financing has not been officially confirmed, but the secondary market has begun to be restless. On September 22, NFTGo data showed that the floor price of Azuki rose from 7 ETH (about 9,100 US dollars) 10 days ago to 12 ETH (about 15,600 US dollars), an increase of about 70%, and its transaction volume increased from daily 100 ETH increased to around 700 ETH per day. After the news, the Azuki floor price has fallen back to around 8 ETH (about $10,000).
In any case, the Azuki series finally has its ups and downs and is no longer a stagnant water. In fact, it’s only been launched for nine months. In January of this year, the NFT series consisting of 10,000 Japanese comic avatars was welcomed by the market as soon as it was launched. The reason is very simple, NFT avatars that do not follow the pixel style finally appeared on the market.
Due to the excellent paintings and the first anime style, Azuki quickly swept the purchasing power of NFT enthusiasts. The floor price surged from 1 ETH for public sale, and rose to a high of 30 ETH in less than 5 months, occupying the blue-chip NFT sector. Pit position, the transaction volume has long ranked in the top ten of the NFT rankings.
Azuki’s popularity has also made the outside world interested in its development team ChiruLabs. Public information shows that it consists of a group of Los Angeles-based artists and developers, with experience in DeFi research and development and a background in the game industry, dedicated to building a metaverse, pseudonym A member of Zagabond is the principal of ChiruLabs.
Azuki is the first NFT project created by Chiru Labs. According to the official plan, it will become a community-driven metaverse brand in the future. The team will build metaverse games, 3D virtual scenes, etc. around this IP, and will also expand offline comics, Clothing and other physical goods are held, and events such as fan meetings and music festivals are held.
The surge in sales in the early days of Azuki’s launch is not only related to its appearance, but more importantly, it created a new standard for NFT smart contracts, ERC-721A. With this standard, users only need to pay an on-chain GAS fee to batch mint (Mint) Multiple NFTs, which directly reduces the cost for NFT enthusiasts to obtain Genesis NFTs.
In addition to optimizing smart contract standards, Azuki also introduces a new NFT gameplay-fragmentation. The NFT numbered Azuki#40 Bobu was broken into 50,000 fragments, each represented by the homogenized TokenBOBU. It launched BOBU, a governance token, in the form of fragmented NFT, which is a relatively new way of playing in the field of NFT projects.
The advantages of gameplay and cost boosted the price of Azuki NFT in the market frenzy stage. Soon, it encountered many problems that would occur in leading NFTs. The price was too high, and it was difficult for ordinary NFT players to match.
Flexible Azuki came up with another way to sticky push new. In April this year, Azuki launched the Beanz NFT series Beanz with a bean image. The total number of issued is 20,000, of which 10,000 are airdropped to Azuki NFT holders, and the rest can be freely minted by users. Beanz has also been given to Azuki’s partners For such a character, its initial floor price is less than 1 ETH, which is much cheaper than Azuki.
Azuki’s metaverse world project
The emergence of Beanz enables Azuki to give back to the original holders without diluting the original NFT value, and also lowers the threshold for new users to enter the Azuki ecosystem.
It can be said that Azuki’s success in the first half of this year is mainly due to the gameplay. It has built a sub-IP line around the main IP, which has gradually enriched its story. This is the result of operations, but it still hasn’t broken the NFT field and relies on distribution—the royalty is The new business model, the actual use is still social avatars.
By June, Azuki seemed hopeful of breaking the ice. At NFT.NYC, the world’s largest NFT event, Azuki launched an offline event with the theme Enter The Alley (entering the alley), displaying various art installations, tattoo shops, physical peripherals, etc.
When the outside world thought that this NFT IP was just going to play the old routine of selling peripherals offline, in July, The Alley (Alley) page appeared in the World section of Azuki’s official website, and the alley was described as Azuki holders leading to the future The gate of the world, there are many airdrop clues left inside the gate. It was an epiphany that Azuki’s plan for the metaverse world was coming.
Just last Friday, on the World update page, a The Ruins game interface appeared, where NFT holders can play the game of whack-a-mole. The Ruins is the second virtual world in the Azuki world that users can enter after the opening of The Alley. Although these two new products have not yet demonstrated more functions, the outside world has already felt that Azuki is executing the original positioning, building elements cosmic ecology.
Azuki’s recent actions may be the side confirmation of its financing news. After all, the cost of developing a metaverse is much higher than issuing a series of NFTs.
Doodles turns to Web3 multimedia brand
The blue-chip NFT project that has actually received financing is Doodles. This project, which was launched in October 2021, initially released 10,000 hand-painted cartoon avatar NFTs in various shapes. Avatar stands out, and today’s valuation has jumped to $700 million with a $54 million funding round.
The gold content of Doodles comes from the creator’s popularity. It is the work of Burnt Toast, an internationally renowned artist and free commercial illustrator. In addition, it also has two technical founders, Evan Keast and Jordan Castro, who have participated in Dapper Labs. Marketing and development of Crypto Kitties. CryptoKitties is the first-generation blockchain game on Ethereum, once famous for its expensive encrypted pet cats and blocking the Ethereum network.
Due to the popularity of the creators, Doodles became a blue-chip NFT shortly after its launch, and its transaction volume also occupied the top 10 in the NFT market for a long time. According to NFTGO data, on September 28, the floor price of Doodles was 7.76 ETH, or about $10,000.
Community building has always been one of the biggest selling points of Doodles, and it is also a model of community governance for NFT projects.
In order to increase the participation of community users, Doodles has established a Doodlebank (DAO) treasury for NFT holders to support community members in activities to enhance brand influence. To this end, Doodles agreed that 50% of the sales revenue (royalty) in the secondary market will be sent to Doodlebank. The development team regularly updates the scale of funds and publishes treasury data in the community Discord every week. How the treasury funds are used is completely determined by the community. Each Doodles NFT holder can put forward a proposal that determines the allocation of funds and the strategic direction of the project, and then the holder votes for the proposal to decide whether it is approved or not. As of September 28, there was 2,940 ETH in Doodlebank, worth $3.82 million.
In order to increase the gameplay of NFT, in February this year, Doodles created Space Doodles (spaceship) props. NFT holders can receive spaceships for free for their Doodle characters to carry.
Based on this, players speculate that Doodles may also launch a metaverse plan for space in the future, but this speculation has not been confirmed by the project’s actions. It wasn’t until May of this year that Doodles welcomed its newly appointed CEO, Julian Holguin, that the project’s new plans began to come to light.
Holguin’s background is not small. He is a former executive of American entertainment magazine Billboard. He has more than 14 years of experience in media and entertainment executive management. He has extensive experience in media, digital publishing, social media, streaming media, TV and live events. experience. As soon as Holguin took office, Doodles said it would expand the current NFT market, focusing on music, games, premium content and consumer goods. Doodles has also repositioned itself as the world’s largest and most beloved Web3 media brand, targeting mainstream consumer markets through culture and entertainment.
The following June, at the NFT NYC conference, Doodles announced the appointment of well-known music producer Pharrell Williams as chief brand officer to help Doodles shape the series of NFT strategies in music, artwork, consumer goods, animation and events. On the same day, Doodles announced it had raised a Series A round led by venture capital firm Seven Seven Six for an undisclosed amount.
New CEO Holguin said that Doodles is no longer just a JPEG image, its image will be transformed into a Web3 multimedia and entertainment IP brand featuring movies, music and animation. This means that the colorful and simple cartoon images will no longer be flat images, and will likely become characters that appear in accordance with specific scenes and enter the world of movies, animation and music.
This prediction was also confirmed in the subsequent movements of Doodles. On May 12, the project launched the Dooplicator equipment box NFT, which can be used in the Doodles2 stage. On June 28, Doodles2 released an introduction, it is a series of dynamic NFTs, users can change the appearance of Doodles image according to their needs, turning it into a full-body picture, optional skin color and hair color, can be worn by the wearable in The Genesis Box. Equipped with a custom Doodles image, each new Doodles will be accompanied by animations and original music.
As of September 28, the real functions of Doodles 2 have not been officially opened to the public, but the two equipment boxes have entered the secondary market for users to configure. It can be seen that Doodles is stepping out of the JPEG camp, moving towards dynamic and three-dimensional, and moving towards its Web3 multimedia brand positioning.
Moonbird open copyright to make up for development shortcomings
Whether it’s Azuki or Doodles, they can be noticed by venture capital institutions in the crypto bear market because they are updating their development routes, breaking the outside world’s inherent impression that it is only an avatar or a picture by means of innovative products and expanding ecological boundaries.
In the face of the cold winter of the encryption market, Moonbirds, a rising star in the NFT market, was the first project to give feedback, and it was also the first NFT blue-chip project to receive a large amount of capital.
Moonbirds is a pixel avatar NFT series launched by the PROOF team. The images are mainly cartoon owls, and the total number of issued is 10,000. On April 16 this year, Moonbirds started public casting at a price of 2.5 ETH, and the transaction volume once surpassed the top NFT projects BAYC and CryptoPunks. On September 28, OpenSea data showed that the floor price of the Moonbirds NFT series was still above 10 ETH, or about $14,000.
The early success of Moonbirds stemmed from the strong background and operational capabilities of the PROOF team behind it. PROOF was also a NFT-focused podcast team last year, with a private club of 1,000 NFT collectors, including NFT artist Beeple whose works fetched high prices at Christie’s, investors Gary Vaynerchuk and Kevin Rose. The membership threshold for this club is PROOF Collective NFT, and holding this NFT can access the club’s Discord, get podcast content in advance, unlock free NFT airdrops, and more.
After PROOF launched Moonbirds NFT, every member of the club received 2 for free. On April 26, less than 10 days after Moonbird went live, PROOF raised $10 million from venture capital firm Seven Seven Six.
With the help of capital, Moonbird has risen, PROOF hit the iron while the iron is hot, and announced the launch of a new NFT series Moonbirds Oddities, 10,000 new NFT series with pixel version of the cartoon kiwi bird image, some of which are airdropped to Moonbirds holders. But this bundled bird series is no longer the glory of its main IP Owl. On September 28, the floor price of Moonbirds Oddities series NFT is 1.17 ETH, which is about $1388.
The same problem, whether Moonbird or the derivative version of Moonbirds Oddities, is still avatars and pictures. Obviously, compared to Doodles and Azuki, the PROOF team that gathers NFT collectors lacks ecological development capabilities, and consumes its own team aura in the issuance of depreciated picture NFTs one after another.
Perhaps out of self-help, on August 5 this year, Kevin Rose announced that the Moonbirds and Moonbirds Oddities series of NFTs will be converted to CC0 mode, opening the copyrights of these two NFT series to everyone, and supporting anyone based on these two NFT projects. Create or derive new products. In the future, Moonbirds DAO will be established to support and supervise ecological development.
On August 30, PROOF held the Future PROOF online live broadcast, and Kevin Rose announced the new route, including the release of the third new NFT series Moonbirds Mythic in early 2023, giving back to the NFT holders of the first two series. Launched the PROOF Web3 social platform to support curation by NFT holders or collectors. Integrate research reports, podcasts, DAO proposals and other content resources within the PROOF ecosystem. Support CC0 and create Moonbirds DAO, execute and supervise trademark licensing and fund allocation. PROOF tokens will also be issued in the future.
From the perspective of the new plan, PROOF is really nothing new. It is still the old story of NFT issuance, DAO, and governance tokens. The only thing to watch is COO. Is anyone willing to use the copyrights of Moonbirds and Moonbirds Oddities to make new products that attract traffic? This is the key to the long-term development of these two NFT projects.
During the live broadcast, PROOF continued to play the capital game and announced the completion of a $50 million Series A financing led by a16z, with participation from Seven Seven Six, True Ventures, Flamingo DAO, and Vayner Fund. The relevant person in charge of a16z expressed the hope that this round of financing will help PROOF enter its new growth stage and help it become a leading Web3 technology company. It can be seen that the capital has also seen the shortcomings of PROOF.