BUD, a nascent app taking a shot at creating a metaverse for Gen Z to play and interact with each other, has raised another round of funding in three months.
The Singapore-based startup told TechCrunch that it has closed $36.8 million in a Series B round led by Sequoia Capital India, not long after it secured a Series A extension in February. The new infusion brings BUD’s total financing to over $60 million.
As with BUD’s previous rounds, this round of raise attracted a handful of prominent China-focused investors — ClearVue Partners, NetEase and Northern Light Venture Capital. Its existing investors GGV Capital, Qiming Venture Partners and Source Code Capital also participated in the round.
Founded by two former Snap engineers Risa Feng and Shawn Lin in 2019, BUD lets users create bulbous 3D characters, cutesy virtual assets and richly colored experiences through drag-and-drop and without any coding background.
The company declined to reveal its active user size but said its users have created over 15 million custom experiences i.e., virtual spaces with gameplay that others can join since the app launched in November. Virtual assets, including costumes and accessories that users design for characters, have changed hands more than 150 million times on BUD’s marketplace.
These transactions are clearly a promising way to generate revenues, but BUD is not charging commissions for now. Nor has it started monetizing in other means via the app.
Perhaps partly due to its free-to-use and ad-free nature, the app has been among the top 10 social apps in nearly 40 countries across North America, Southeast Asia and South America. It’s currently the top free social Android app in Thailand and Vietnam, according to market intelligence company SensorTower.
Apps like Roblox and South Korea’s Zepeto have also made it easier for anyone to design virtual characters and spaces. BUD is taking the user experience a step further with plans to introduce a marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs). That means the ownership of virtual items sold on BUD will be recorded on the blockchain. Reselling of digital assets will likely become possible in the form of NFTs, of which authenticity and provenance can be more easily verified.
BUD declined to disclose which chain the NFT project will be on or what tokens it will use, but said the marketplace will “soon be live.”
“While BUD makes 3D content creation possible for mainstream Gen Z consumers, we will continue to bring blockchain to mainstream consumers and allow our creators to truly own and monetize their creations,” said Lin in a statement.
The company is quickly expanding and has a team of 130 employees spread across its headquarters in Singapore as well as its offices in Shenzhen and the U.S.