After raising $12 million in its first round of venture capital funding, CryptoKitties will break away from its creator, Canadian blockchain startup Axiom Zen, the company announced Tuesday.
The ethereum-based app, which has enjoyed tremendous popularity since its launch in December of 2017, allows users to buy, collect, breed and exchange unique digital cats built on ERC-721 tokens. The amount of activity on the app has previously congested the ethereum network , and even caused one token sale to delay as a result.
A spokesperson for Axiom Zen said CryptoKitties, which will retain at least 20 employees, aims to “make blockchain technology accessible and relevant to everyday consumers,” and believes “digital collectibles can act as a constellation for identity and self-expression.”
“They can be wonderfully representative of who we are and what’s important to us,” the representative told CoinDesk in an email, adding that the people behind CryptoKitties believe “the world in the future will involve reputation-based identity powered by the blockchain.”
The app’s Series A funding round was led by private venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, whose portfolio includes a variety of tech companies such as Coinbase and Airbnb among others, and Union Square Ventures, an investment bank who also has a stake in Coinbase and numerous other major tech companies.
Axiom Zen’s spokesperson said the proceeds will primarily be used to “dramatically expand” the CryptoKitties team “as we figure out how to scale the blockchain to a billion consumers.”
Token Summit founder and advisor to Coin Center William Mougayar, who is an angel investor in CryptoKitties, told CoinDesk he thought the app could be a leader in what will turn out to be “the year of native digital assets on the blockchain.”
“The team and the company behind CryptoKitties are in a leading mindshare position and capable of increasing their marketshare in the consumer gaming sector.”
Axiom Zen said in its announcement that its other angel investors include Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam, CEO and AngelList founder Naval Ravikant and Zynga founder Mark Pincus, in addition to senior figures at BitFury, Y Combinator, Tinder, Earn.com, Lending Home, Compound VC and Entrepid.
Likewise, the company noted that it had obtained seed funding from the Digital Currency Group, YesVC, Version One and CAA Ventures.
“We think crypto-gaming and -collectibles can be bigger than cryptocurrency,” the representative told CoinDesk. “The ERC-721 non-fungible token standard we created and proved with CryptoKitties will lead to more innovation this year than the ERC-20 standard did in 2017 with ICOs and all of these new token economies.”
Kittens image via Shutterstock