Tom Brady’s NFT platform Autograph raises $170M in funding

Posted: 21 January 2022 4:52 pm
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The sports NFT market is expected to generate more than $2 billion in transactions in 2022.

Autograph, the nonfungible token (NFT) platform cofounded by Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Tom Brady, today announced that it closed a Series B funding round totaling $170 million.

The funding round was co-led by venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and Kleiner Perkins but also includes investments from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Katie Haun — who leads her own firm — and a follow-up capital infusion from venture capital and private equity firm 01A. 01A and Velvet Sea Ventures co-led a Series A financing round in July 2021.

The platform launched in July 2021 and helps athletes and entertainers create and promote their own NFT collections. Its roster includes Tom Brady himself, golf champion Tiger Woods, tennis star Naomi Osaka, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk and Olympian Simone Biles, among others, as well as entertainment companies Lionsgate and Slam Magazine.

“Autograph has truly shown itself to be a rocketship in the past six months,” said a16z partner Arianna Simpson. “Their NFT platform is delivering digital experiences that excite mainstream consumers, not just the crypto community.”

Katie Haun, a16z general partners Arianna Simpson and Chris Dixon and Kleiner Perkins partner Ilya Fushman will also join Autograph’s board of directors.

“We’re in the midst of an exciting moment in the evolution of the next generation of the Internet,” said Katie Haun. “The benefits of being an early adopter of web3 products and services as a creator or a consumer are real but there have historically been significant barriers to entry for most people. Autograph has assembled a world-class team that understands how to build trusted, delightful product experiences that will accelerate the mainstreaming of crypto.”

Autograph has also recently finalized several additional partnerships, which the company plans to announce soon.

Autograph secures investments from superstars of the crypto and Web 3.0 world

Investment firm a16z whose founders played a major role in the development of the Internet, has been a major investor in the broader crypto industry since 2013. NFTs are cryptographic assets stored on a blockchain, just like cryptocurrencies.

It’s funded at least 40 crypto startups to date, according to the company’s website. And last summer, the firm set up a new $2.2 billion investment fund, Crypto Fund III, to profit off the rapid growth of cryptocurrency and the people building out its architecture.

The venture capital firm is now planning to raise $4.5 billion for its latest crypto fund, according to a report by Financial Times. It’s looking for $3.5 billion for its venture capital fund and another $1 billion for Web3 seed investments, easily surpassing the $2.2 billion raised last year for its Crypto Fund III, at the time the industry’s largest.

Then there’s Katie Haun, the soon to be former partner at A16z who announced in December 2021 that she was leaving a16z to start her own venture capital firm. Haun’s new firm will focus primarily on cryptocurrency and blockchain startups.

Haun’s reportedly looking to raise $900 million for a pair of funds, an early investment fund targeting crypto startups and a fund focused on larger companies and digital tokens. She co-leads the $2.2 billion crypto fund at a16z.

NFTs have become one of the hottest cryptocurrency markets in the world, surpassing $40 billion in 2021.

So what do you get if you buy something from Autograph?

Autograph is a platform to buy limited-edition digital collectibles produced by sports, entertainment and culture icons.

You can buy an Autograph NFT in two ways — through primary drops and on the secondary marketplace. Drops are a collection of NFTs that are first introduced on the market, like an initial public offering (IPO) of a stock. After the drop, the NFTs can be bought or sold at any time on the secondary market, much like how stocks are later traded among investors.

Some Autograph NFTs may come with unlockable content or redeemable in-person experiences. Some NFT editions are also individually signed or autographed by the icon. The signature is authentic to each NFT and is rendered digitally.

When you purchase an Autograph NFT, you own the NFT but you don’t own any
intellectual property rights. According to Autograph’s Terms of Service, you’re given “a worldwide, nonexclusive, nontransferable, royalty-free license to use, copy, and display” the NFT content solely for your own personal, noncommercial use. This license lasts as long as you are the owner of the NFT.

In the most basic sense, sports NFTs are the digital equivalent of printed sports trading cards.

The popularity of sports NFTs has exploded recently and is expected to generate more than $2 billion in transactions in 2022, about double the amount in 2021, according to research from Deloitte.

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