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Vancouver NFT giant Dapper Labs worth US$7.6b following latest raise: report

Company specializing in digital collectibles lands another US$250m from investors
Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou | BIV file photo

One of B.C.’s most highly vaunted unicorns has just gotten much more valuable.

Vancouver-based Dapper Labs Inc. revealed Wednesday it’s landed another US$250 million from investors just six months after a record raise that attracted dollars from the likes of NBA legend Michael Jordan, rapper 2 Chainz and actor Ashton Kutcher.

The West Coast company is best known for its online marketplace — NBA Top Shot – that trades in digital collectibles, such as video highlights, that come with non-fungible tokens (NFT).

Backed by the Flow blockchain technology, NFTs function as a certification of ownership for digital assets.

Combined with the US$305 million secured in March, Dapper Labs has raised US$555 million this year alone and US$607 million since its founding.

While the company has not publicly disclosed a valuation, a report from Tech Crunch pegs Dapper Labs’ worth at US$7.6 billion following the latest raise.

"Dapper Labs is growing quickly but we're just scratching the surface of what this new technology can do for people," CEO Roham Gharegozlou said in a statement.

"We're excited to partner with our incredible investors to scale NBA Top Shot and launch our upcoming titles as well as unlock the potential of the open ecosystem building on Flow."

The latest funding round was led by Coatue Management LLC with participation from existing investors a16z (AH Capital Management LLC), GV Management Company LLC (formerly Google Ventures) and Vancouver’s own Version One Ventures LLC. 

Dapper Labs plans to use the fresh capital to expand its offerings within sports marketplaces as well as music and other entertainment.

More than US$780 million in digital collectibles have been bought and sold over the NBA Top Shot marketplace so far this year, while Dapper Labs has attracted more than 1.1 million customers who’ve accounted for more than 13 million transactions, according to the company.

Beyond the NBA, the company has also announced partnerships with Warner Music Group, Ubisoft and UFC.

The surge of unicorns (startups valued at US$1 billion or more) to emerge from B.C. over the past year is unprecedented for the local economy.

At least 10 have attained such status since December 2020.

David Raffa, president of Valeo Corporate Finance Ltd., said the local tech ecosystem is benefitting from private equity firms swimming in cash amid the pandemic, while credit markets are wide open and interest rates are at record lows.

“You build a dam dependent on a river and the water is piling up, piling up, piling up. Then the dam bursts. And so that’s what happened,” Raffa, whose Vancouver-based firm provides services for mergers and acquisitions and initial public offerings, told BIV in April.

Access to top-tier universities and the large talent pool paid in Canadian dollars at lower comparable salaries than their American counterparts have been particularly enticing, he added.

Brent Holliday, CEO of Vancouver-based Garibaldi Capital Advisors Ltd., said the local tech sector had been held back to a certain degree in years past owing to the lack of available talent in the city.

“Getting big financings in companies like Hootsuite [Inc.], BuildDirect[.com Technologies Inc.], etc., 10 years ago helped fuel a broader talent pool we have,” he told BIV in May.

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