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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.

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.

“Genies has established its leadership in Web3 with remarkable speed and focus, fueled by a long term vision and clarity of purpose that we have been watching closely and greatly admire,” said Egon Durban, Co-CEO of Silver Lake.


The fact that we can allow anybody to sell digital goods and wearables is what gets me really excited.”

The NFT craze

Above: Akash Nigam is CEO of Genies.

Dapper Labs is the team behind NBA Top Shot and CryptoKitties, which have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in NFT sales. A lot of people are excited about the nascent technology of NFTs — which has benefited from the craze stirred by Elon Musk‘s endorsement (and his wife/musician Grimes), Bitcoin breaking $50,000, GameStop shareholders’ grassroots revolt against Wall Street, and NBA Top Shot (listen to this ESPN podcast about it).

“It’s exciting for the whole category,” Nigam said.
“The next big play is Genies is going to be powering the whole marketplace. And we announced our partnership with Warner Music Group.


Marketplace Models

The operational models of the NFT marketplaces vary quite widely.

While there are more traditional NFT marketplaces, platforms that simply connect buyers and sellers, similar to eBay or Etsy, there are also hybrid marketplaces, in which a company’s business model of creating digital experiences is supported by the NFT marketplace itself, and specialized marketplaces that focus on one type of asset.

Prominent and traditional marketplaces such as OpenSea and Rarible have a spectrum of items for sale, e.g., art, trading cards, and collectibles, for wide ranging prices.

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We’ve had this consumer-first approach outside of the NFTs, and this is what we were doing this entire time anyways.”

Upcoming partnerships

Above: Genies avatars can wear digital goods.

Later this year, Genies plans to roll out hundreds of partnerships where users can use their Genie to allow for a “virtual portable identity,” which users will be able to take with them across the internet. It recently partnered with Giphy, which has more than 700 million users who go to the search engine daily to find animated GIFs, or those silly moving images associated with internet memes and recorded in graphics interchange format (GIF).

To upload a Genie avatar into Giphy, users create a Genie in the Genies app and then use the deep link to connect them to Giphy.
Once in the Giphy app, users can upload their Genies to their channel and use it throughout Giphy.

Rather, people can take their avatars and move from place to place in a distributed metaverse. He said the partnership with Giphy will help folks us Genies as cultural accessories for their digital selves and use them in digital communities where they already belong.

Bond’s Mary Meeker

Above: Genies creates digital avatars for celebrities, influencers, and athletes.

Bond was formed a few years ago by Meeker and other former leaders at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins.

Meeker will now join the Genies board of directors. “Mary Meeker is joining the board, which we’re very excited about,” Nigam said. “What closed the deal was Mary Meeker joining the board.”

This is another metaverse play by a big investor.

“The investment is based on what business really is right now and the potential for metaverse,” Nigam said.

Genies revealed that it 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 Web3-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.

Genies recently launched The Warehouse, an avatar ecosystem NFT marketplace enabling creators to buy, sell, and trade these avatar ecosystem creations.

Only in the current market can one wonder how a celebrity avatar startup that sells NFT accessories took so long to hit a unicorn valuation.

Genies, an LA-based digital avatar startup, announced Tuesday that it had raised $150 million in funding from Silver Lake, with participation from Bond, NEA and Tamarack Global. The round was first reported by DealBook. It follows a $65 million Series B raised last May.

The round values the startup at $1 billion.

Avatar startup Genies scores $65 million in funding round led by Mary Meeker’s Bond

A good deal of the startup’s momentum has come from their high-profile partnerships with a number of musician and athlete celebrities who have used the company’s avatars for social media posts and various other activations.

As they’ve rolled out avatar creation to all users through beta mobile apps, Genies has been focusing on one of the more explicit dreams of the avatar companies before it; building out a broad network of avatar users and a broad network of compatible platforms through its SDK.

Image Credits: Genies

“An avatar is a vehicle to be able to showcase more of your authentic self,” Genies CEO Akash Nigam tells TechCrunch. “It’s not limited by real-world constraints, it’s an alter-ego personality.”

Trends in the NFT world have provided new realms of exploration for Genies, but so have broader pandemic-era trends that have pushed more users to wholly digital spaces where they socialize and connect.

Over the past several years I’ve covered my fair share of upstart avatar companies that were all chasing the same dream — building out a customizable platform for a digital persona that gained wide adoption across games and digital spaces. Few of those startups I’ve covered in the past are still around.

But by netting a string of successful partnerships with celebrity musicians, LA-based Genies has come closer than any startup before it to realizing the full vision of a wide-reaching avatar platform.

The company announced today that they’ve closed a $65 million Series B led by Mary Meeker’s firm Bond. NEA, Breyer Capital, Tull Investment Group, NetEase, Dapper Labs and Coinbase Ventures also participated in the deal.

Mary Meeker will be joining the Genies board.

The “non-fungible” part of the name means the tokens are unique and cannot be exchanged, which sets them apart from fungible “tokens,” such as cryptocurrencies, that can be used as a medium of exchange.13 However, even the buyer purchases an NFT representing a share of a particular piece of digital art, you are not necessarily acquiring any intellectual property rights in the art itself.

Jordan Romanoff, BNY Mellon’s Vice President and Counsel for Intellectual Property, Brand Protection and Marketing, explained.

“When lawyers talk about copyright rights, whether for a piece of digital art or a movie, we are referring to the ‘bundle of rights’ that a copyright owner receives under the law.

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