Venture capital firm Adreessen Horowitz (a16z) said it’s leading a whopping $50 million seed round for Gary Vaynerchuk’s NFT project, VeeFriends — marking a bright spot in a challenging funding landscape for digital asset-focused startups.
Celebrity influenced and VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk, or Gary Vee, launched VeeFriends in May 2021.
VeeFriends intends to use the seed capital to expand its intellectual property (IP) across physical and digital platforms of the 283 VeeFriends characters, according to a Medium post. The platform also plans to make new hires.
Chris Lyons, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, tweeted additional details about his firm’s backing of the “growing Web3 company.” A spokesperson for Vaynerchuk declined to comment.
Claiming VeeFriends “represents the ethos of entrepreneurship,” Lyons also praised Vaynerchuk’s “commitment to supporting his community members’ personal growth.”
Vaynerchuk hand-drew each cartoon animal — a “wise wasp” and a “generous gerbil,” for example — in the style of doodle art and attributed a specific human trait to it. Seventeen such characters are featured on a special edition deck of UNO.
Lyons found some of those “meaningful attributes for humanity” — tolerance, patience and authenticity — to be inspiring to the community.
Each token grants admission to the VeeCon conference, the first of which took place this May in Minneapolis. The tokens are categorized into three tiers and rarity is broken down by background color and level of access to VeeCon and to Gary Vaynerchuk.
VeeFriends said the collection had amassed over 200,000 ETH in primary and secondary sales in its relatively short lifetime. It is in the top 30 collections with the most trading volume of all time on OpenSea.
A spin out collection, VeeFriends Series 2, was released with new characters earlier this year. Part of the utility of the second collection is a collectible trading card game.
A16z also recently led a $25 million seed round to fund the launch of Co:Create, a new protocol that intends to support the growth of NFT projects and enable them to launch their own native tokens. VaynerFund, Vaynerchuk’s investment fund, was also an investor.