NFT-based metaverse company Animoca Brands raises $360 million

Visitor is pictured in front of a 'metaverse' art installation which will be converted into NFT and auctioned online at Sotheby's, in Hong Kong
A visitor is pictured in front of an immersive art installation titled "Machine Hallucinations — Space: Metaverse" by media artist Refik Anadol, due to be converted into NFT and auctioned online at Sotheby's, at the Digital Art Fair, in Hong Kong, China September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

LONDON, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Metaverse gaming company Animoca Brands raised nearly $360 million in a funding round led by Liberty City Ventures, the company said on Tuesday, valuing the firm at more than $5 billion.

Animoca Brands - an Australian company with headquarters in Hong Kong - invests in and builds blockchain-based online virtual worlds, in which assets such as land can often be bought in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

It has invested in more than 150 NFT and metaverse-related companies. read more

In many so-called metaverse environments, users can buy land, walk around as avatars, play games and meet friends.

The term became a tech and business buzzword last year. Metaverse-related companies saw a flurry of investment and metaverse platforms' crypto tokens surged, boosted by Facebook (FB.O) changing its name to "Meta" to signal its commitment to the concept. read more

Meanwhile, NFTs exploded in popularity, with sales volumes nearing $25 billion in 2021. read more

Animoca Brands' chairman and co-founder, Yat Siu, has been vocal in his view that the development of "Web3" or the metaverse depends on users being able to own blockchain-based assets. read more

Animoca Brands typically receives around 7.5% of every transaction of its NFTs on the major marketplace OpenSea. OpenSea is the main NFT marketplace and has seen around $3 billion in sales volume in the past month, according to market tracker DappRadar.

Animoca Brands issued 111,173,515 shares, worth $358,888,888, and said it would use the proceeds for acquisitions, investments, product development and to buy licenses for popular intellectual property.

The fundraising was led by venture capital firm Liberty City Ventures. Gemini Frontier Fund, Sequoia China and Winklevoss Capital were among the other investors. At a shareholder meeting last month, it was announced that Siu would hold about 7.3% of Animoca Brands after the latest funding round, the company said.

"Animoca Brands has built and developed leading brands in the decentralized gaming and metaverse space," said Tyler Winklevoss, founder of Winklevoss Capital and Gemini.

"We have tremendous conviction in its vision and are excited to support its mission."

The company held reserves of digital assets, such as crypto tokens, worth $15.9 billion at the end of November 2021, up from $2.9 billion at the end of September 2021, according to its unaudited financial statements.

Animoca Brands raised $216 million in 2021.

In November, SoftBank led a $93 million funding round in Animoca Brands' subsidiary, The Sandbox. read more

The Sandbox's token, "SAND", is up more than 8,500% in the past year, according to Coinbase.

Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft; Editing by Saikat Chatterjee and Tomasz Janowski

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Reports on the intersection of finance and technology, including cryptocurrencies, NFTs, virtual worlds and the money driving "Web3".