Blackbird, Crypto Restaurant App, Raises $24M in Funding Led by A16z

The target audience is restaurant users, but the blockchain-based project comes with its own "Flypaper" and fungible FLY tokens.

AccessTimeIconOct 5, 2023 at 9:27 p.m. UTC
Updated Oct 6, 2023 at 7:11 p.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global hub for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

Blackbird Labs, an app and loyalty program that's attempting to connect restaurants and their customers via its crypto-powered app, announced Wednesday it has raised $24 million in a series A funding round led by the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z).

Through Blackbird, which is built on Coinbase's Layer-2 Base blockchain, customers tap their phone on a near field communication (NFC) reader (the devices which allow smartphones to connect to payment readers) and create a non-fungible token (NFT) membership. The NFT is then minted when users “tap in” to the restaurant.

Blackbird memberships unlock rewards and insider perks such as off menu items and SMS concierge, said a press release.

The project has garnered mainstream attention partly because its CEO is Ben Leventhal, a co-founder of the dining network Resy; the New York Times published a feature this week about Blackbird without mentioning the word "crypto" once.

Flypaper and $FLY tokens

But behind the scenes is a blockchain-based infrastructure and a decentralized ethos. Diners can also earn fungible $FLY tokens, and Blackbird's website links to a "Flypaper" that lays out some of the mechanics.

"Blackbird will be the first decentralized platform built especially for the hospitality industry," the paper reads. "Unlike legacy rewards marketplaces which maroon and lock earned points, the Blackbird protocol will eventually allow users to take the points they earn anywhere they go on public blockchains."

Blackbird has partnered with Privy so that users do not need to have a crypto wallet prior to joining; they just have to sign in with their phone number which automatically grants them access to a self-custodial wallet.

Blackbird launched a few months ago and has signed up around 80 restaurants in New York City.

“Web3 enables a powerful, new way for restaurants and guests to connect, making each dining experience unique and more meaningful,” said Arianna Simpson, general partner at a16z crypto.

This comes as a number of companies have attempted rewards based systems via NFTs and struggled to maintain consistent usage.

Edited by Bradley Keoun.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Lyllah Ledesma

Lyllah Ledesma is a CoinDesk Markets reporter currently based in Europe. She holds bitcoin, ether and small amounts of other crypto assets.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.

Read more about