Nonfungible token (NFT) startup Genies has secured $150 million in Series C funding at a valuation of $1 billion, making it the latest crypto-focused platform to attain “unicorn” status.
The funding round was led by California-based private equity firm Silver Lake, which manages $88 billion in assets as of 2021, with additional participation from existing investors Tamarack Global, BOND and NEA. Genies said the funding will go towards increasing internal capacity in its engineering department as well as investing in new technologies.
Founded in 2017, Genies is an avatar technology company that first set out to target social media and messaging platforms. Now, it’s trying to capitalize on the metaverse, a sort of catch-all phrase for companies looking to bridge the physical and virtual worlds. The platform enables users to create avatars that can be deployed in virtual worlds. Its NFT marketplace, dubbed “The Warehouse,” is built with Dapper Labs.
Genies claims to have gained 99% market share for celebrity avatars through official partnerships with Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group.
While NFT sales have slowed considerably from their peak last September, metaverse projects appear to be breathing new life into the industry. Data from analytics firm Nansen recently revealed that the NFT market’s metaverse segment is growing rapidly despite its overly speculative nature. Nansen classifies land, real estate NFTs, avatars and utility NFTs as metaverse plays.
Despite extreme volatility, the NFT market is growing at a faster clip than the broader cryptocurrency market, according to Nansen.