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Metaverse VC Roundup: Binance Labs Raises $500M for Web3 Investment

Boardroom’s latest metaverse VC roundup also includes fundraising updates from Spencer Dinwiddie’s Calaxy, MechaFightClub, Talos, and more.

The cryptocurrency market has been experiencing a major downturn for weeks now, but venture capital firms are still raising large funds to continue investing in Web3, cryptocurrency, gaming, and metaverse-focused startups.

Here’s our latest breakdown of the big money moving around in the ever-growing Web3 industry.

Crypto Funds Raising Billions

Binance Labs

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance raised $500 million to launch its own venture capital fund under its VC arm, Binance Labs.

The company aims to capitalize on the slowing cryptocurrency market to weed out the founders building in Web3 for the long haul. Binance will use its new fund to invest in crypto projects driving the wider adoption of Web3 and blockchain technology.

Binance Labs has invested in more than 100 companies across 25 countries since 2018, including The Sandbox, Axie Infinity, Dune Analytics, and Polygon.

“In a Web3 environment, the connection between values, people, and economies is essential, and if these three elements come together to build an ecosystem, that will accelerate the mass adoption of the blockchain technology and crypto,” Changpeng Zhao, founder and CEO of Binance, said in a statement. “The goal of the newly closed investment fund is to discover and support projects and founders with the potential to build and to lead Web3 across DeFi, NFTs, gaming, Metaverse, social, and more.”

Binance Labs will invest in companies across three stages: incubation, early-stage venture, and late-stage growth. For startups in the incubation stage, Binance runs a program to support projects by providing its network of resources, experts, and mentors. Investments across the other two categories will include token and equity investments.

Standard Crypto

Standard Crypto raised $500 million to launch a new digital asset-focused fund. The VC firm plans to pursue investments in both traditional equity and cryptocurrency. Officially, the new fund is known as Standard Crypto Venture Fund I.

Since its inception in 2019, Standard Crypto has been investing in blockchain and tech companies across the gaming, social, and financial industries. The company participated in Yuga Labs’ $450 million seed round and Polygon’s $450 million funding raise. Axios reported that Standard Crypto has roughly $1.5 billion in assets under management.

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Andreessen Horowitz

Andreessen Horowitz raised a massive $4.5 billion for its fourth crypto fund. Of the fresh fund, a16z is dedicating $1.5 billion to seed investments and $3 billion to venture investments. The firm is looking to invest in Web3 startups at every stage, including companies in the gaming, creator monetization, DeFi, social media, and NFT industries.

With this latest funding close, Andreessen has raised over $7.6 billion total for its blockchain and Web3 funds. A portion of a16z’s fourth fund will go toward expanding its operating teams as well.

Calaxy: $26M to Help Creators Revolutionize Web3 Earnings

Calaxy has secured the bag. The LA-based Web3 social media app for creators, raised $26 million in strategic funding. The investment was led by The HBAR Foundation and Animoca Brands, with additional participation from Polygon.

The company was co-founded by Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie and tech entrepreneur Solo Ceesay in 2020. Calaxy is a social marketplace for creators powered by Hedera Hashgraph’s distributed ledger technology.

The company’s flagship platform lets users search for their favorite creators, buy tokens, and unlock special perks. Users can communicate with their favorite celebrities through video calls, direct messages, and even help them vote on big decisions they post. Calaxy can be compared to the likes of Cameo, but the Web3 social app is built on the Creator’s Galaxy protocol, a decentralized protocol/ecosystem dedicated to empowering content creators. Creator’s Galaxy is powered by Calaxy tokens, one billion of which were minted in April alone.

Ceesay has been serving as COO of Calaxy since the company’s inception in 2020, but following this new funding raise, he’s been promoted to CEO. Ceesay succeeds Dinwiddie, who will now act as the company’s executive chair moving forward.

“My appointment to CEO and the success of this raise is evidence that blockchain is paving the way for greater global equitability, and highlights what can be accomplished as a 27-year-old black man—decentralized technology will break the barriers that legacy finance has cultivated,” Ceesay said in an official release. “$26 million seems fitting in honoring my business partner Spencer—a number he wears with pride in his basketball career. I’m grateful to him and the extended Calaxy team for believing in my ability to foster more equitable income for entertainers everywhere. As CEO, I intend to further Calaxy in realizing its vision of next-generation, decentralized social media.”

This recent funding raise comes after Calaxy closed a $7.5 million seed round last year. The company’s Web3 social media app is set to launch this summer.

More Deals

Here are some more recent funding deals you should know about since our last roundup.

  • Andreessen Horowitz led NFT infrastructure protocol Co:Create‘s $25 million investment round and MechaFightClub‘s $40 million investment, and also recently co-led Web3 gaming startup LootRush‘s $12 million seed round alongside Paradigm. The firm didn’t stop there since, as it also led a  $24 million round for Web3 gaming and entertainment company Metatheory, which was created by Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin.
  • Talos, a digital asset trading platform, raised $105 million in a funding round led by US private equity firm General Atlantic. Talos reports that this funding increases its valuation to $1.25 billion.
  • Cryptocurrency exchange KuCoin raised a $150 million pre-Series B financing round led by Jump Crypto. The new round bumps the company’s estimated valuation up to $10 billion.
  • Web3 startup Lighthouse raised a $7 million seed round co-led by Accel, BlockTower, and Animoca Brands. The company wants to build “the search engine of the open metaverse,” and use the fresh funding to expand its team ahead of its public launch this summer.
  • Goldman Sachs co-led a $70 million Series A for Elwood Technologies, a British-based cryptocurrency exchange platform, alongside Dawn Capital. The company is using the funding to expand its products and global operations.
  • Paris-based Arianee, an end-to-end Web3 solutions platform provider, closed a $20 million Series A led by Tiger Global.
  • Dirt, a community-powered Web3 media ecosystem, raised a $1.2 million seed led by Collab+Currency. The company plans to onboard more members into DirtDAO, welcome contributors to earn funds for their content, and expand its readership.
  • Haun Ventures led funding rounds for two startups. The VC firm was a part of investing $50 million into NFT marketplace protocol Zora and $11 million into Highlight, a Web3 community startup.
  • Jadu raised $36 million to build a Web3 and augmented reality-enabled gaming platform. The new funding comes after the company closed $7 million in December 2021 to build out its augmented reality world called the Mirrorverse.
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