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OpenSea, one of the most talked about blockchain start-ups in Silicon Valley, said on Tuesday it had raised $ 300 million in new venture capital, making it the latest company to capitalize on a rush to fund cryptocurrency start-ups.

The new funding round, led by investment firms Paradigm and Coatue Management, brings the start-up’s valuation to $ 13.3 billion just four years after its inception. OpenSea has previously raised more than $ 100 million from a host of investors, including investment firm Andreessen Horowitz and actor Ashton Kutcher, according to data provided by the company.

Founded in 2017, OpenSea was established as a marketplace for people to buy and sell so-called NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are unique pieces of digital code backed by blockchain technology.

NFT items may vary, but the most popular tokens are digital artwork created by artists who auction their coins on the OpenSea site, similar to eBay. Winning bids can sometimes run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Ethereum, a popular cryptocurrency and blockchain technology connected to most types of NFTs.

As crypto-focused start-ups have become more popular in recent months, OpenSea has become the central place for enthusiasts to trade NFTs. This has caught the attention of investors who wish to place increasingly larger bets on the occupied space of cryptocurrencies.

More than $ 3 billion in private investment was invested in NFT companies in 2021, according to data compiled by PitchBook, a company that tracks private investment. Overall, investors invested more than $ 28 billion in cryptocurrency and NFT startups around the world last year, PitchBook said.

“In 2021, the world saw the potential of NFTs to unleash utility and economic empowerment across a wide range of industries, communities and creative categories,” said Devin Finzer, one of the founders and CEO of OpenSea. “Our vision is to be the destination for these new open digital economies to thrive. “

Yet many cryptocurrency critics believe the frenzy around NFTs and blockchain technology is a fad, rife with questionable activity. Last week there was a brief controversy surrounding OpenSea after one of its clients claimed that $ 2.2 million worth of NFT was stolen from him. (OpenSea then froze the stolen assets and prohibited the exchange of the items on its site.)

These concerns have not stopped technologists. Cryptocurrency and NFT-focused startups are recruiting masses of employees at big tech companies like Meta, Google, and Amazon, luring them in with the promise of working on new, potentially lucrative technologies. Last year, Brian Roberts, the former CFO of Lyft, left the rideshare company to join OpenSea as the first CFO. The company also recently hired Shiva Rajaraman, former vice president of commerce at Meta, as vice president of products.

The company said it plans to use the new funding to increase its more than 90 employees, while doubling the size of its trust and security team. The company also plans to invest heavily in product development to make its blockchain technology more accessible to mainstream consumers, and will soon be launching a grant program to support blockchain creators and builders in the NFT space.

The news that OpenSea was seeking funding was earlier reported by the Newcomer technical bulletin.


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