Dapper Labs has closed a $12 million funding round led by National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Spencer Dinwiddie, Andre Iguodala, JaVale McGee, Aaron Gordon and Garrett Temple, according to a press release shared with CoinDesk.
The funds will be used for further development of blockchain games including the eventual launch of NBA Top Shot out of private beta, Dapper Labs founder and CEO Roham Gharegozlou told CoinDesk in a phone interview.
“Sports are our most important vertical now,” Gharegozlou said.
NBA Top Shot runs on the developer’s custom Flow blockchain. The firm pivoted off the Ethereum blockchain due to scalability concerns following the 2017 CryptoKitties debacle.
The round was also joined by new venture capital firms such as Coinbase Ventures and existing partners Union Square Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) Cultural Leadership Fund – the offshoot’s first investment – among others.
Dapper Labs has raised $51 million to date in seven rounds, according to Crunchbase.
NBA Top Shot
As first reported by The Block, NBA Top Shot broke $1.2 million in revenue three months after Beta trial launch. The app allows basketball fans to purchase officially licensed digital tokens of NBA player rosters similar to a trading-card game.
“Flow can create the vehicle for consumers to enter the space through products like NBA Top Shot where they have fun, but at the same time create a new self-sovereignty,” Dinwiddie said in a statement.
NBA players like Dinwiddie and McGee are not unfamiliar with cryptocurrency investments. Dinwiddie experimented with tokenizing his NBA contract on the Ethereum blockchain while McGee was an early investor in bitcoin, according to Gharegozlou.
Iguodala has found some success as a fintech investor as well; he recognized Zoom’s potential long before it became a pandemic business staple.
“Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize consumer ownership on the internet,” Iguodala said in a statement. “Projects like Dapper Labs’ Flow are already driving consumer adoption, with NBA Top Shot proving the experience is not only engaging, but smooth and fan-friendly.”