No matter which virtual world (or metaverse) you spend your time in they all need avatars, a way for players to digitally represent themselves whilst offering a way to creatively express one’s self. Last week, 3D avatar startup Genies announced a Series C investment of $150 million USD to expand upon its Web3 vision.
Founded in 2017 and boasting previous investors such as former Disney CEO Bob Iger, the round was led by private equity company Silver Lake, valuing Genies at a substantial $1 billion. The company says the funds will be used to grow its non-fungible token (NFT) avatar ecosystem, a platform that allows creators to build and mint their own avatars.
So what is an avatar ecosystem? Genies explain this as a collection of “avatars, fashion and collectibles, spaces and venues, and social experiences,” all of which are created by users. The eventual idea is that these could then be used across the metaverse.
“We believe avatar ecosystems are going to shape Web3 the same way that mobile apps defined Web2,” said Akash Nigam, CEO of Genies in a statement. “With every advancement of the internet, an expansive new region of entrepreneurial skill sets is born. In Web3, Gen Z avatar ecosystem builders are going to be the leaders of innovation and, through our creator tools, we strive to empower their wildest imaginations, ideas, and experiences as avatar creations.”
“We’re just trying to invest in the very best technology companies,” Egon Durban, the co-chief executive of Silver Lake, told New York Times’ DealBook. “Sometimes it’s a small company like this, and other times it’s huge, large companies that need to be transformed.”
This continues a series of major announcements from Genies over the past year. Back in May 2021, the company raised $65 million with a round featuring the likes of Dapper Labs, Polychain, and Coinbase Ventures. December saw Genies collaborate with Universal Music Group, whereby artists on the label created avatars of themselves.
Creators using the Genies platform build and mint these NFT avatars to then sell via the platform’s marketplace, the company taking a 5% cut from each sale. Currently, these tools are only accessible by invitation only, with a more public rollout expected this summer. For further updates on Genies, keep reading gmw3.