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Metaverse avatar company Genies has raised $150 million at a valuation above $1 billion.
Los Angeles-based Genies makes avatars that people can customize to their own needs, and it also provides celebrities with avatars that can be used as stand-ins for them at online events. The company also sees them as enabling people to jump around from different places in the metaverse while keeping the same identity.
Silver Lake led the round, with participation from Bond, NEA, and Tamarack Global. The company will push its blockchain-based strategy and continue to roll out avatar creator tools that enable anyone to create their own avatars, avatar fashion collections, and avatar homes and experiences. So far, though, Genies isn’t being used in games.
“We believe avatar ecosystems are going to shape web 3 the same way that mobile apps defined Web2,” said Akash Nigam, CEO of Genies in a statement. “With every advancement of the internet, an expansive new region of entrepreneurial skill sets is born. In web 3, Gen Z avatar ecosystem builders are going to be the leaders of innovation and, through our creator tools, we strive to empower their wildest imaginations, ideas, and experiences as avatar creations.”
The company now has more than 100 employees.
Since its last $65 million funding round in May 2021, Genies — which said it has a 99% celebrity avatar market share — partnered with Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group to serve as each company’s official avatar and digital goods non-fungible token (NFT) provider.
Genies also started to roll out its mass consumer avatar creator tools to small groups via a private [invitation-only] beta, allowing users at every level of technical ability to create their own web 3-native avatars and avatar fashion collections, and eventually, avatar homes and social experiences.
As a core pillar of Genies’ vision, creators have full ownership and commercialization rights of their Genie avatar creations and can utilize them in any way they choose – ranging from creating a show or movie or starting a new brand– unlocking entirely novel forms of creativity, expression and monetization.
“It takes a very special team to operate and build at the intersection of culture, digital assets, and identity,” said Jamie Lee and John McCormick, Tamarack Global, in a statement. “From its position as the forefront of creativity and commerce, Genies is creating endless opportunities for self-expression.”
Genies recently launched The Warehouse, an avatar ecosystem NFT marketplace enabling creators to buy, sell, and trade these avatar ecosystem creations. All creations are minted on Dapper Labs’ blockchain network, Flow. To become a Genies avatar fashion seller, or to design and sell your own avatar species, apply here.
“I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Genies team pioneer the avatar space since 2016,” said Rick Yang, general partner and head of consumer investing at NEA, in a statement. “They uniquely understand what consumers and builders truly want and are enabling the ultimate avatar ecosystem for all.”
The new injection of capital will be used for continuous hiring across engineering and to further invest in the core technology of Genies’ avatar universe.
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