Silicon Valley tech VC Andreessen Horowitz (A16z) is reportedly eying an investment in Bored Ape Yacht Club creator Yuga Labs, with a reported valuation as high as $5 billion.
Sources for the Financial Times revealed that Yuga Labs is seeking funding for a multi-million dollar piece of the company. If a deal is secured, it would mark the first institutional investment Yuga Labs has accepted as its popular nonfungible token (NFT) collection has become one of the biggest in the industry.
The terms of the deal have not yet been set and negotiations may be canceled outright. Neither A16z nor Yuga Labs have confirmed the talks.
The Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) is currently the second-most traded collection on the largest NFT marketplace OpenSea, with 380,821 Ether (ETH) ($1 billion) in total traded volume. At its February launch, it cost users just $300 to mint an Ape. The collection now boasts a floor price of 99 ETH ($263,839) at the time of writing. Major celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Paris Hilton have publicly revealed that they own Apes.
Yuga Labs entered 2022 with only 11 full-time employees on staff. However, the company stated that it has always had the ambition to be a “community-owned brand” in a Jan. 4 tweet.
6. Where do you see the future of the club?— Yuga Labs (@yugalabs) January 3, 2022
We see ourselves as temporary stewards of IP that is in the process of becoming more and more decentralized. Our ambition is for this to be a community-owned brand, with tentacles in world-class gaming, events, and streetwear.
It should come as little surprise that A16z is involved in investment discussions with Yuga Labs. The investment firm’s crypto portfolio includes 41 companies including NFT-based projects OpenSea, Autograph, and Cryptokitties. Both of the core teams for those projects, however, are publicly known, unlike the pseudonymous team that leads Yuga Labs.
A16z wants to expand its exposure to crypto by hunting for $4.5 billion in funds, which would solidify its position as one of the major crypto investment firms.
Institutional interest in Yuga Labs demonstrates that the NFT space as a whole may be set to enter a new phase in its maturity. In 12 months, trading volume on NFTs has grown from just $20,000 per day on Jan. 26 2021 to over $5 billion on OpenSea.
Furthermore, new NFT platforms on various blockchains designed for niche content have been popping up since last year. NFL superstar Tom Brady entered the NFT space last year by co-founding the Autograph NFT marketplace for artists and athletes, in which A16z participated in a $170 million funding round last month.