The world of NFTs is strange, confusing, and exhilarating. Naysayers see a space filled with capital-obsessed hucksters who want to drown out all lasting value in popular culture, while boosters see a new technological revolution that can transform the way media value is created and captured. online.
Last year, institutional investors seemed obsessed with NFT opportunities, a space few of them seriously examined ahead of 2021, pouring billions of dollars in equity investments into startups including Dapper Labs, OpenSea and Sky Mavis.
Investors’ latest NFT bet is on a startup called the Pixel Vault, a massive collection of NFT superheroes aiming to become a Marvel-style decentralized empire. The NFT startup tells TechCrunch that it has closed a whopping $100 million in funding from Adam Bain and Dick Costolo’s 01 Advisors and Velvet Sea Ventures.
Pixel Vault has been at the forefront of experimentation on how NFT projects become something bigger than thousands of JPGs.
“Pixel Vault projects are built with the key principles of Web3 at the core: community empowerment, decentralized governance, and true digital ownership,” said Pixel Vault CEO Sean Gearin (better known in crypto circles as GFunk). it’s a statement. “We don’t see the fan as the customer. Our fans are the owner and the builder.”
The company’s first release in May, before it was really a company, featured a drop of thousands of comics, real and digital, featuring characters from the world of CryptoPunks. Users had the option to trade the comic NFT for a short period for a spot in the DAO of the founder of Pixel Vault, a crypto collective that gave them ownership of a substantial collection of NFT artwork that included a number of NFT CryptoPunks. worth millions at current prices who were the main characters of the Pixel Vault comic.
The supplier of most of those punks was a crypto investor by the pseudonym @beaniemaxi, who funded the project initially, supplied a multi-million dollar collection of punks, and spoke loudly about the potential of the project. He’s been criticized in recent weeks for pushing projects to his supporters without being as transparent about the extent of his personal involvement: The minor crypto scandal led him to ditch the Pixel Vault project to avoid further pushback for the startup.
Since the initial release of Punks Comic, the Pixel Vault team has leaned into the comic book aesthetic, drawing on some of the veteran artists behind the comic to create a large collection of superhero NFTs that the team hopes to turn into a universe. broader media. The team seeks to balance maintaining intellectual property rights with encouraging the community to use and promote “MetaHero” art, maintaining the intellectual property rights of 146 of the “Core” character NFTs and allowing for wide reuse of thousands. of generative characters.
“[They] are mandated to build a decentralized Disney, which in my opinion means co-creation and co-ownership with avid fans to force you to do the job, which does not participate in economics but in appreciation. of its characters that are in this world,” Michael Lazerow of Velvet Sea Ventures tells TechCrunch.
Pixel Vault already has an agency deal with WME to develop partnerships in Hollywood and beyond.
The minimum price for one of the thousands of MetaHero Generative Identities sits at just over $18,000 in ETH at current prices, while the cheapest of the 146 main characters is just under $300,000.
Building a decentralized Marvel is certainly about more than just money; All of that said, the Pixel Vault has a lot of money in its community. The project has seen nearly 100,000 ETH in lifetime transaction volume, more than a quarter of a billion dollars at current prices.