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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Forte, a blockchain-based gaming infrastructure startup, recently agreed to raise $185 million at around a $1 billion post-money valuation, according to multiple sources. Then other investors, including Tiger Global, came calling — offering to nearly double the price. But Forte CEO Josh Williams stuck to his word, quietly closing earlier this week.

Why it matters: In an era of "can you top this" VC valuations, often for the sake of instant gratification, Forte chose to play the long game.

Details: Griffin Gaming Partners led the Series B round, and was joined by new investors like Union Grove Venture Partners and return backers Andreessen Horowitz and Battery Ventures.

Why the interest: Forte, which declined comment, sits at the intersection of several scorching trends, including NFTs.

  • It's an economic back-end for gaming, a platform that allows game developers to integrate blockchain into their consumer-facing products.
  • A lot of this right now revolves around in-game item purchases, with Forte helping to enable monetization between players (or between streamers and fans), as opposed to just between developers and players. But it also goes beyond that, with Forte having quietly minted over 5,000 NFTs — some of them for items, but many for things like fractional ownership of gaming guilds.
  • Sources say that Forte has around 8 million players on its network, via dozens of popular games. Among the studios it works with is Gallium, co-founded by Will Wright, the original lead designer for "The Sims."

Curious caveat: Forte's long-term plan is to gradually decentralize its platform, believing that it's building the niche equivalent of Internet infrastructure. That also means its eventual goal is to dissolve itself, and it's not quite clear how that squares with raising venture capital.

The bottom line: Not all highly-competitive deals go to the highest bidder.

Go deeper

3,000 unruly passenger reports made to FAA this year

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Airlines have reported some 3,000 cases of unruly behavior by passengers to the Federal Aviation Administration this year — including 2,300 for refusing to comply with face mask mandates, the FAA announced Monday.

Why it matters: Passenger numbers remain below pre-pandemic levels. But the FAA is investigating the highest number of suspected federal law violations since it began recording unruly passenger incidents in 1995, per ABC News.

Cashier killed after face mask policy dispute in Georgia grocery store

An Atlanta area grocery store cashier was killed and three other people were injured in a shooting following a dispute over a face mask policy in the supermarket Monday, police said.

Driving the news: DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox said during a news conference that the female cashier was working at the Big Bear Supermarket in Decatur when she was shot following a "confrontation" over the wearing of masks.

House panel to investigate Trump-era DOJ data seizures

Photo: James Devaney via Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee will launch a formal probe into the Trump-era Justice Department's seizure of data from devices belonging to members of Congress, their aides, journalists and then-White House counsel, panel chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced Monday.

Why it matters: Though it's so far unclear if the cases are related, they raise "serious constitutional and separation of power concerns," Nadler said in a statement.