After months of NFT mania and Facebook’s recent name change to Meta, it’s fair to say that “metaverse” chatter has reached a fever pitch. And while crypto investors are buying up avatars and digital swaths of land in hopes that a digital universe will spring up around these projects, it’s unclear which projects — if any — will stand the test of time.
Institutional investors are also making their bets on the NFT “metaverse.” Crypto startup Jadu, which has made millions of dollars selling pixelated NFT jetpacks and hoverboards, has scored $7 million in venture funding from General Catalyst with additional funding from Coinbase Ventures, The VR Fund, Sound Ventures and Guy Oseary, among others.
The startup’s virtual accessories can be used with other 3D avatars including Larva Labs’ Meebits and other wildly pricey NFTs like CyberKongz and DeadFellaz. The avatars can be viewed and raced around in the company’s AR app The Mirrorverse, which the company hopes to eventually turn into a full-fledged Pokémon GO-like game.
Over the weekend, the company sold 6,666 NFT hoverboards for $4.4 million worth of the Ethereum cryptocurrency.
The NFT space has attracted plenty of ridicule throughout the year, though proponents believe that the digital goods are more than meet the eye and allow creators to get attention and bankroll projects that they might otherwise have a tough time financing. Jadu CEO Asad J. Malik says that appetite for NFTs is overwhelming, but that they’re focused on building their broader platform for the time being.
“We can milk people right now, like there’s enough interest if we want we could say we’re releasing some avatar and we’re going to do like 1 ETH mints, and we can probably like make $20-30 million like that, but that’s not sustainable and that’s distracting,” Malik tells TechCrunch. “We have enough money, we’re going to build out the AR stuff. That’s really what we want to get ahead of everyone else on, like actual good AR gameplay, and NFTs are just kind of a process of being able to do that.”