Irene Zhao is Raising Funds for Influencer Platform SO-COL at a $100M Valuation

The private funding round is led by Blockchain Capital.
Image source: SO-COL

Quick take:

  • The exact amount of funding is yet to be confirmed.
  • Discussions with investors are ongoing.
  • SO-COL is created to onboard Web2 influencers to Web3.

Instagram model and entrepreneur Irene Zhao is raising a fresh round of funds, valuing her startup SO-COL at $100 million. The private funding round is led by Blockchain Capital.

The size of the funding is yet to be confirmed as discussions with investors are ongoing. The fresh funding will value SO-COL at $100 million, according to people familiar with the matter. Zhao confirmed these details in an interview with The Block. 

“We are helping all the creators and influencers who are completely Web2 to get into Web3 by giving them a very simple user interface,” she told The Block. “They can actually use their Apple Wallet, any wallet they have, to buy anything on our platform.”

Zhao, who rose to prominence with her NFT project, IreneDAO, co-founded SO-COL, an influencer platform designed to bring Web2 influencers onto Web3. The platform will allow influencers to bridge their social accounts to Web3 via its DID protocol, and use NFTs as a basis to manage their memberships and communities, she tweeted.

She demonstrated how influencers can monetise their social following through NFTs by dropping a collection of her own earlier this year, featuring digital stickers of Zhao in various poses accompanied by crypto catchphrases. Approximately 2600 ETH worth of the digital stickers have been traded on OpenSea.

Zhao described the collection as a proof of concept for SO-COL. Co-founded by Zhao and Benjamin Tang, SO-COL closed its $1.75 million seed round in February, co-led by Animoca Brands and DeFiance Capital. Three Arrows Capital, Mechanism Capital, Global Founders Capital, Double Peak Group, Antifund, Genblock Capital, and Kronos Research participated in the round.

According to The Block, Zhao describes SO-COL as a “Web2.5” platform that bridges the gap between crypto natives and Web2 users unfamiliar with Web3 tools. She added that the platform is working with Stripe to offer credit/debit card payment. It is also working with StarkEx, an Ethereum scaling platform to try to reduce creator fees.

Zhao hopes to launch SO-COL within the next month. Proceeds from the fundraise will be used to hire developers, continue building the app, and for marketing. She has already recruited celebrities to help promote the platform but declined to name them. One of them is a Michelin star chef who will use SO-COL to issue NFTs that will grant holders exclusive memberships at their restaurants.

SO-COL will assist creators with various NFT-based projects by providing both technology and consulting services.

Sterling Campbell of Blockchain Capital said in a statement that a Web3 platform like SO-COL enables influencers “to token-gate deeper access, exclusive merch, masterclasses, and more.”

“The willingness to pay for deeper engagement is higher than the value that many Web2 platforms provide, and Web3 brings that engagement directly to the fan,” he added.

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