NFT Avatar Startup Genies Reaches Unicorn Status with $150M Funding Led By Silver Lake

Private equity firm Silver Lake is leading a $150 million funding round that will value Genies at $1 billion.
Image source: Genies

Quick take:

  • The investment is the latest push by traditional investment firms into Web3.
  • Disney’s former CEO Robert Iger recently joined Genies’ board of directors.
  • Genies was an investor in Yuga Labs $450 million seed round.

According to a report in New York Times’ Deal Book, 3D avatar startup is raising $150 million in its latest funding round, led by private equity firm, Silver Lake. With the funding, Genies will reach a post-money valuation of $1 billion, bringing the startup to unicorn status.

The investment is the latest push by traditional investment firms into Web3. “We’re just trying to invest in the very best technology companies,” Egon Durban, the co-chief executive of Silver Lake, told Deal Book. “Sometimes it’s a small company like this, and other times it’s huge, large companies that need to be transformed.”

Silver Lake’s other Web3 investments include Fanatics, the owner of NFT sports collectibles company Candy Digital, and the blockchain development platform Alchemy, which is now valued at $10.2 billion.

Genies is an avatar platform that allows users to mint digital wearables as NFTs that they can then sell on an online marketplace, called The Warehouse, with the company taking a 5% cut from each sale. Its avatar creation tools are currently by invitation only, but the company has plans to roll them out more widely this summer.  

Genies previously raised funding in an undisclosed on Mar 14, which valued the company between $100 million to  $500 million. Investors included Disney’s former CEO Bob Iger, who joined Genies’ board of directors on the same day, and Mary Meeker’s venture firm Bond, which invested in Genies’ $65 million Series B funding round in 2021.

The company has also invested made two investments, with the most recent one in Yuga Labs’ $450 million seed round on Mar 22.

Last year, the company also secured partnerships with record labels Warner Music Group (WMG) and Universal Music Group (UMG) to develop avatars for their rosters of global artists such as Justin Bieber, Migos and Cardi B.

In January, Genies CEO Akash Nigam announced that the company will be giving full ownership and commercialisation rights of avatars to creators on the platform to empower “humans to create their own digital identity ecosystems.”

The success of Genies depends on whether users will make use of its avatar ecosystem tools to create their own digital identities in the metaverse. According to Deal Book, Genies declined to disclose financial figures or further information on the profitability of the company.

“The metaverse is really about freedom,” Nigam told Deal Book. He explained to Deal Book that customisable avatars “ can allow people to express themselves in online worlds differently than they can in real life.”

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