The news: Silicon Valley heavyweight Andreessen Horowitz is putting more cash behind Irreverent Labs. The investment firm led a $40 million round for the Seattle startup building a blockchain-based fighting game that pits chicken-esque fighters against each other.
The details: Andreessen led a $5 million seed round just seven months ago. “We are raising now because [Andreessen] saw no reason to wait based on our overall traction,” Irreverent Labs CEO Rahul Sood told GeekWire.
The game: MechaFightClub is an online “cruelty-free” fighting game that combines emerging technologies including artificial intelligence and NFTs. Players can trade, sell, and use fighters known as “mechabots” that are each unique and live on the Solana blockchain. The game uses a play-to-earn ecosystem with its blockchain currency called nuggets. Players can use nuggets to make in-game purchases or withdraw them for use on the wider Solana blockchain.
“Gamers will soon realize that having ownership of the characters within the game and building a relationship with that character over time is actually a really good thing,” Sood previously said.
The leaders: Sood previously co-founded esports betting startup Unikrn, which was acquired last year, and led Microsoft’s venture capital arm. Co-founder David Raskino helped lead the VC fund with Sood and most recently oversaw a new security team at Microsoft.
What’s next: The game is set to launch later this year. The company already has more than 35,000 registered users. “Our Discord is thriving and we have spent $0 on marketing. It’s all organic growth,” Sood said. He said revenue is expected in July.
The investors: The 17-person company added some notable investors, including Solana Ventures, the VC arm of Solana Labs; Michael Ovitz, founder of Creative Artists Agency (CAA); Sonam Kapoor, a Bollywood star; and Infinity Ventures Crypto. Existing backers also invested, including Mantis VC, Keen Crypto, Unlock Venture Partners, and Advancit Capital.
“For all its lighthearted fun, Irreverent Labs is a deep technology company building advanced tech on top of a futuristic mecha-cockfighting game,” Arianna Simpson, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, said in a statement.
Last word: Irreverent Labs is among a flock of nascent blockchain startups that raised a record $25.2 billion last year, up 713% year-over-year, according to CBInsights. There are also several fast-growing blockchain gaming startups such as Axie Infinity. Irreverent Labs will need to convince traditional gamers that layering in technologies such as NFTs will improve the gaming experience — and create a business while doing so. It now has plenty of cash to give it a go.
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