The team behind the viral ethereum app CryptoKitties is breaking away from its parent company, Canada-based Axiom Zen, and raising $12 million in venture funding to go it alone.
Announced Tuesday, the app's Series A round was led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, whose portfolio includes a variety of tech companies such as Coinbase and Airbnb, and Union Square Ventures, a New York-based firm that has stakes in Coinbase, OB1 and other industry startups.
Still, the news is a milestone for the ethereum-based app, which has enjoyed tremendous popularity since its launch in December 2017. CryptoKitties allows users to buy, collect, breed and exchange unique digital cats built on ERC-721 tokens, and users have done so, even congesting the ethereum network and delaying token sales due to demand.
A spokesperson for Axiom Zen said CryptoKitties, which will retain at least 20 employees, aims to "make blockchain technology accessible and relevant to everyday consumers," and believes "digital collectibles can act as a constellation for identity and self-expression."
"They can be wonderfully representative of who we are and what's important to us," the representative told CoinDesk in an email, adding that the people behind CryptoKitties believe "the world in the future will involve reputation-based identity powered by the blockchain."
Axiom Zen's spokesperson said the proceeds will primarily be used to "dramatically expand" the CryptoKitties team "as we figure out how to scale the blockchain to a billion consumers."
Token Summit founder and advisor to Coin Center William Mougayar, who is an angel investor in company, told CoinDesk he thought the app could be a leader in what will turn out to be "the year of native digital assets on the blockchain."
"The team and the company behind CryptoKitties are in a leading mindshare position and capable of increasing their market share in the consumer gaming sector," he said.
Axiom Zen said in its announcement that its other angel investors include Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam, AngelList founder Naval Ravikant and Zynga founder Mark Pincus, in addition to senior figures at BitFury, Y Combinator, Tinder, Earn.com, Lending Home, Compound VC and Entrepid.
Likewise, the company noted that it had obtained seed funding from the Digital Currency Group, YesVC, Version One and CAA Ventures.
Going forward the firm has high hopes that it can turn its brand of unique digital items into something that can appeal to larger enterprise partners and new business.
A representative told CoinDesk:
"We think crypto-gaming and crypto collectibles can be bigger than cryptocurrency,"
Kittens image via CryptoKitties