The investment fund, Animoca Brands, specializes in the areas of NFT, gaming, and metaverse. An analysis has been conducted on the investment style and portfolio of Animoca Brands. In the period around May to June 2021, amidst the backdrop of the pandemic-induced unemployment and the emergence of the Play to Earn trend, not only were there games that facilitated the community in earning additional income, but also another name that garnered considerable attention, and that was the investment fund, Animoca Brands. This article presents information on Animoca Brands’ fund and their investment portfolio.
What is Animoca Brands?
Animoca Brands is an investment firm specializing in NFTs, gaming, and metaverse. The company is headquartered in Hong Kong and has multiple subsidiaries and offices throughout the world including the United States, Finland, South Korea, Canada, Argentina, Germany, and Australia. In addition to its investment activities, Animoca Brands also has various independent projects, such as The Sandbox, a prominent name in the metaverse trend.
Despite being founded around 2014, Animoca Brands only gained notoriety during the height of the pandemic-induced economic downturn. Moreover, the subsequent rise of the metaverse trend further propelled the company, which had previously invested in trending projects, to new heights.
Members of Animoca Brands
Yat Siu – Co-Founder of Animoca Brands:
- Young entrepreneurs at the 2009 DHL/SCMP Hong Kong Business Awards.
- Established Cybercity, considered Asia’s first free e-mail and website provider.
Evan Auyang – Group President of Animoca Brands:
- Having served as the Chief Executive Officer and Director at GLG International – a specialized technology support platform – I oversaw the management and expansion of its business operations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.
- Advisor of Our HongKong Foundation.
An overview of Animoca Brands’ investment portfolio
Due to the extensive number of projects in our investment portfolio, we have listed only a select few prominent ventures undertaken by Animoca Brands during our investment journey. Subsequently, we will highlight some noteworthy projects within each sector. It is important to note that all projects mentioned have been covered in detail on 247btc.net, should you wish to learn more about a particular project, simply search for the name on our website.
It is observed that this area does not fall under the umbrella of cryptocurrency in general, or at least not currently. Thus, there is limited commentary that can be offered regarding the nature of the teams. However, when looking at the bigger picture, Esports is one of the hot topics of today. The amount of money allocated to tournaments is increasing with each passing day. An example of this can be seen in the prize money for The International Dota 2 tournament over the years since its inception. This highlights the distinct investment mentality of Animoca Brands when compared to other funds in the cryptocurrency realm.
- Yield Guild Game: Yield Guild Game stands as the foremost guild in the sphere of Gaming and holds the largest scale among the current guilds. This guild enlists a three-part cycle for fundraising.
- Seed (March 2021): Animoca Brands, Delphi Digital,…
- Series A (June 2021): Animoca Brands, Parafi, IDEO Colab,…
- Unknown (August 2021): a16z.
- Guild Fi: Similar model to Yield Guild Game. Animoca Brands invested in Seed round in November 2021, along with Coin98 Ventures, Hashed,…
- Ancient 8: Guild Game originates from Vietnam and is created in collaboration with Coin68, Coin98, as well as some personnel from FTX. During the seed funding round in January 2022, Animoca Brands invested together with Dragonfly Capital, Coinbase, and Pantera.
Observation: Animoca Brands invested in nine Guild Game projects, but the models of these projects are not distinctly different. This suggests that their investment in Guild Game may not be based on the nature of the project, but rather on the project team or the investment funds involved.
- Concept Art House: The project facilitates the creation of NFT art pieces for various other projects. Animoca Brands and Spartan jointly invested in the Series A round in October 2021.
- Kollektion: The site connects famous artists and fans, allowing artists to create their own exclusive NFTs and sell them to fans.
It is worth noting that the projects listed under the “Art” section differ from those found in the typical marketplace, as they are exclusively available to a select few well-known individuals or up-and-coming artists. This particular niche presents an excellent opportunity to cater to the community by providing two distinct types of quality products: one being high-quality mainstream options while the other focusing on superior NFT offerings.
- Metamask: Metamask, the current most widespread decentralized application wallet, is one of the earliest of its kind. It is a product developed by ConsenSys, a company that has successfully raised two rounds of funding.
- Strategic (April 2021): Mastercard, The Maker Foundation, The Lao,…
- Unknown (November 2021): ParaFi, Conbase, Animoca Brands, Dragonfly, Spartan, DeFiance,…
- SafePal: The token sale for Wallet Storage was previously available through Binance Launchpool. SafePal offers both soft and hard wallets, and is included in Binance Labs’ Incubator Season 3 projects. The investment timeline of Animoca Brands in SafePal could not be ascertained.
- Ledger: The most famous hardware wallet brand in Crypto. Animoca Brands’ investment timeline in Ledger could not be found.
- Xdefi Wallet: The wallet is versatile in nature, boasting the ability to both store and swap tokens. However, it is limited to only the browser extension version. Animoca Brands participated in a Seed funding round in September 2021 which included notable investors such as Alameda, CoinGecko, and Mechanism.
Observation: The investment portfolio of Animoca Brands’ wallet sector comprises only two dominant names, indicating their lack of interest in hidden wallet gems. In my assessment, their remaining projects are not significantly outstanding compared to their industry peers in the same domain.
- Highstreet: The Highstreet project enables real-world brands to vend NFTs within the Highstreet virtual domain. This platform comprises two stages of funding:
- Seed (8/2021): Mechanism, NGC, Jump Capital.
- Straegic (11/2021): Binance Labs, Animoca Brands.
- OpenSea: OpenSea, which is currently the largest NFT trading platform, records daily transaction volumes of several hundred million dollars. It has undergone four rounds of capital raising:
- Magic Eden: The 2021-established NFT trading platform, boasting a commendable transaction volume, can be regarded as an OpenSea equivalent on the Solana network. Regrettably, no record of investment from Animoca Brands in Magic Eden has been discovered.
Regarding the current situation of NFT, despite Animoca Brands investing significantly in various Marketplaces, it seems that none of them have gained as much recognition as OpenSea, or in the case of Solana, Magic Eden. The remaining projects essentially lack significant differentiation, leading to a lack of noteworthy factors.
- Amasa: The project enables users to earn income by completing small tasks such as playing games and watching videos, which can then be easily managed and organized. Animoca Brands, OKX, and various other funds invested in the Seed Round of funding in September 2021.
- Claystake: Solve the problem of ineffective use of capital when Staking through liquid staking.
- DeFi Land: The game title is inspired by farming, and features simulation of various DeFi functions. Animoca Brands invested in a Seed round in September 2021, alongside Alameda and Jump Capital.
- Stader: The Stader project aims to provide efficient support for Staking users, which includes features such as auto-compound and identifying validators with high APY. Additionally, Stader made history as the first project to launch its token sale on Coinlist. The project has undergone two rounds of funding, but Animoca Brands did not participate during the investment period.
- KikiTrade: Cryptocurrency investment and lending application. Animoca Brands cooperated with KikiTrade in October 2021.
- MonoSwap: Swap, which offers one-sided liquidity, assists users in their investments. Animoca Brands participated in a Seed round of funding in September 2021, along with several other investors.
- Kraken: Centralized exchange with 24h trading volume in the top 10. No time found for Animoca Brands to invest in Kraken.
- Flow: The blockchain technology has been conceived to facilitate the growth and adoption of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), while the investment timeline of Animoca Brands in Flow remains undetected.
- Polygon: The Polygon ecosystem has witnessed an explosive growth in the year 2021 with three rounds of fundraising, making it one of the most prominent sidechains for resolving congestion issues faced by Ethereum.
- Pre-Seed (April 2019): Coinbase,…
- Unknown (May 2021): Mark Cuban.
- Unknown (February 2022): Sequoia, Animoca Brands, Alameda, Dragonfly,…
- Immutable X: The initial layer 2 exclusively designed for NFTs was not invested in by Animoca Brands immediately. However, in May 2021, Animoca Brands announced their intention to utilize Immutable X for the issuance of digital assets.
- Harmony: The utilization of Sharding technology in Blockchain operates similarly to that of Ethereum 2.0. In October 2018, Harmony and Animoca Brands collaborated to advance the development of Blockchain Gaming.
- Burnt Finance: Auction platform, NFT creation on Solana. Burnt Finance has two funding rounds:
- Seed (May 2021): Injective, Multicoin, Solana Foundation, Alameda,…
- Seed (January 2022): Animoca Brands, Multicoin, Alameda,…
- Metaplex: The project aims to provide users with tools for developing NFTs, including a community, development tools, and a marketplace. In January 2022, Animoca Brands invested in the Seed round alongside Multicoin and Alameda.
In reviewing Animoca Brands’ various projects, it appears that the majority of them center around Layers, with an overarching focus on serving the needs of NFTs. While conducting research, collaboration updates were the only information that could be located, as opposed to investment reports. This suggests that Animoca Brands is not solely driven by profit, but rather prioritizes the development of its projects built atop Layers.
- The Sandbox: The Metaverse project has been around for a long time, with outstanding growth in 2021. The Sandbox has two rounds of funding:
- Strategic (August 2020): Investor unknown
- Series B (November 2021): Softbank, Animoca Brands,…
- Star Atlas: The Metaverse game is set in space, centered on planets and spaceships. Star Atlas has two funding rounds:
- Seed (January 2021): Serum, Moonwhale.
- Unknown (June 2021): Petrock Capital.
- In December 2021, Star Atlas sold $3 million worth of NFTs to Animoca Brands. This is part of Star
- Atlas’s Galactic Asset Offering (GAO).
- Bit Country: The project on Polkadot, aimed at assisting users in constructing a Metaverse world without requiring technical expertise, received seed funding from Animoca Brands and numerous other investment firms in May 2021.
- Decentraland: In the current trend of Metaverse, Decentraland stands out as one of the most prominent projects, alongside The Sandbox. In 2018, Animoca Brands collaborated with Decentraland to jointly develop two games on the Decentraland platform.
In my analysis, it is noteworthy that The Sandbox, which is a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, had a highly successful year in 2021, as both Decentraland and The Sandbox experienced significant growth. Additionally, Star Atlas gained considerable attention in the same year, and hence, the acquisition of NFT ships for a value of 3 million USD underscores the confidence Animoca Brands has in Star Atlas’ future potential.
- Axie Infinity & Sky Mavis: Axie Infinity is a video game that has gained popularity with the Play to Earn trend, enabling many individuals to earn money during the pandemic. The development team behind Axie Infinity is the company Sky Mavis, which has successfully secured two rounds of fundraising.
- Series A (5/2021): Animoca Brands, CoinGecko, Hashed,…
- Series B (10/2021): a16z, FTX, Paradigm,…
- Thetan Arena: The game hailing from Vietnam is a rare title that does not follow the turn-based trend, namely Thetan Arena. Animoca Brands’ investment in this game could not be ascertained.
- Mines of Darlarnia: The enjoyable mining-themed video game, which was previously tokenized and distributed via Binance Launchpool, was the subject of seed funding by Animoca Brands in September 2021, along with Coin98 and Crypto.com.
The observation is that while Animoca Brands’ investment portfolio appears strong in the gaming sector, the current projects lack significant innovation. Many of these ventures seem to replicate ideas from Axie Infinity or from conventional games, suggesting that there are not many standout initiatives in Animoca Brands’ blockchain gaming division.
The instances of capital raising by Animoca Brands
Not only does Animoca Brands invest in promising projects but also its fund raises capital through multiple rounds. To be specific:
- 5/2021: No featured funds.
- 7/2021: Coinbase, along with several other funds, has a pre-money valuation of $1 billion.
- 10/2021: Ubisoft, Sequoia, and Dragonfly have sold shares valued at 2.2 billion USD for a total of 65 million USD.
- 1/2022: Parafi, Sequoia, and other investors have acquired equity valued at 5 billion USD through the sale of shares, for a total of 358 million USD.
- 7/2022: Liberty City Ventures, Kingsway Capital, Alpha Wave Ventures… for $75 million through the sale of shares.
- 8/2022: Animoca Brand Japan, a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, has secured a funding of USD 45 million from MUFG Bank at a valuation of USD 500 million.
- 9/2022: Temasek, Boyu Capital, and GGV have raised a sum of 110 million USD by issuing convertible bonds.
The common objective behind these fundraising efforts is typically to secure licenses for intellectual properties and invest in potential projects that hold promising prospects.
If it is assumed that Animoca Brands is ranked second in gaming investment, then it is likely that no one is ranked first. This is one of the few funds that concentrates solely on a single niche. However, this entails a high degree of risk due to an uneven distribution of investment. Nevertheless, with the significant growth observed in gaming during 2021, there is a possibility that this niche will regain prominence in the future.
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