Wildly-popular Ethereum application CryptoKitties has raised $12 million in a funding round led by venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures (USV).
Announced on Tuesday, the series A funding round also featured personal investments from major tech figures such as Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam, AngelList CEO Naval Ravikant, and Zynga founder Mark Pincus.
Developed by Canada-based venture studio Axiom Zen, CryptoKitties is a decentralized application (DApp) that runs on the Ethereum network and allows users to collect, breed, and trade digital cats. These felines are constructed as ERC-721 tokens, making them digital collectibles that are uniquely identifiable and provably scarce.
“At USV, we think digital collectibles is one of many amazing things that blockchains enable that literally could not be done before this technology emerged, USV co-founder Fred Wilson wrote when announcing the firm’s investment in CryptoKitties. “We also think digital collectibles and all of the games they enable will be one of the first, if not the first, big consumer use cases for blockchain technologies.”
As ICC reported, the game quickly became an overnight success, and at one point CryptoKitties single-handedly clogged the Ethereum network, leading at least one initial coin offering (ICO) — SophiaTX — to postpone its token sale.
According to VentureBeat, CryptoKitites users have collectively conducted more than $40 million worth of transactions, and five cats have each sold for more than $100,000 in ETH at the time of the sale.
CryptoKitties activity has declined over the past several months, but the game is still the third most popular Ethereum DApp and has spawned a number of copycats (pun intended), including one developed by Chinese tech conglomerate Baidu.
In tandem with the funding round announcement, Axiom Zen also revealed that CryptoKitties will spin off into its own venture.
“We envision a world of play, one without limits,” CryptoKitties said. “Where games can be entire economies, unlocking mutual incentives for players and builders to extend the gaming experience.”
“The future is meow,” the company concluded.