You might have seen in the tech press today that our portfolio company Dapper Labs, the company behind the world’s first and most successful consumer blockchain product, CryptoKitties, has raised US$15M in a Series A2 round of funding led by Venrock, with participation by Google Ventures and Samsung NEXT.
When we originally invested in Cryptokitties about 10 months ago, there were three key things that got us excited about the opportunity: it’s native to the blockchain; the team represents some of the best talent in the crypto space; and they’re incredibly thoughtful about the user experience and what ownership and decentralization mean in the crypto age.
A fourth element has evolved since then and it’s very exciting. CryptoKitties is showing the potential of “programmable assets.” When you mix the capabilities of non fungible tokens (including extensibility and permissionless innovation) with the power of interoperable smart contracts, you open up the potential for a lot of innovation.
Over the past months, we’ve seen an explosion in the KittyVerse – the extended realm of CryptoKitties where community members develop third party apps and features to add to the game. There are kitty races, kitty-eating zombies, kitty family tree apps, and countless others. And there’s a lot more innovation and apps to come.
Outside of the blockchain, building apps on top of an existing platform has always been risky. Will the platform change its rules so your app no longer works and all that time and investment are wasted? Platform risk has always been a serious concern for developers, entrepreneurs, and investors alike. But that logic changes for blockchain platforms: underlying digital assets are immutable and if a platform ever tried to change the rules, forking the project will restore the original design.
As a result, blockchain will create platform opportunities that we have not seen before. Like most things in the crypto space, KittyVerse and other blockchain developer platforms are still early – but I think its early traction shows that real businesses will be built on top of crypto platforms.