Mar 30, 2021 - Economy & Business

Investors are pouring big money into the infrastructure behind NFTs

Animated illustration of a hand holding a rotating glowing golden pixel coin.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The "non-fungible token" hype sweeping the country has invigorated an appetite for the backbone of the phenomenon.

Driving the news: Investors are pouring big money into the phenomenon's infrastructure — betting it's here to stay.

Catch up quick: The eye-popping amounts spent to own a digital version of art — or newspaper covers, trading cards, memes, you name it — verified via blockchain, have been called a side effect of the broader market frenzy.

What they're saying: The infrastructure behind NFTs "has improved tremendously in recent years. ... Protocols, applications and creators can scale fast to meet demand," says Matt Beck, director of investment at venture capital firm Digital Currency Group.

  • "The interest in NFTs is likely to persist, even if prices were to cool off amid a wider financial downturn."

The company behind virtual trading card site NBA Top Shot said Tuesday it raised $305 million — the biggest ever funding round for an NFT-focused company. (Valuation: $2.6 billion).

  • NFT marketplace SuperRare said today it raised $9 million.
  • OpenSea, another platform to sell and buy NFTs, said last week it raised $23 million.

By the numbers: NFT-related startups raised $35 million last year, according to Pitchbook.

  • The funding rounds listed above (by no means exhaustive) are already more than 9 times that amount — and it's only March.

The bottom line: So long as NFTs are hot, its ecosystem will be too.

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