Crypto

Animoca Brands, a $6 billion Web3 video game giant

Animoca Brands is one of those companies that is less known than their own product or subsidiary. However, this Hong Kong firm today has a global reach and is central to the Web3 industry as it owns the very famous Sandbox metaverse and has also established itself as a heavyweight in crypto video games.

Because behind the Sandbox media tree are many acquisitions and equity investments in Animoca’s portfolio. In total, the group is represented in almost 340 firms whose business is related to Web3. Last but not least: the OpenSea marketplace, Sky Mavis (behind the game “Axie Infinity”), the Decentraland metaverse, the WAX ​​blockchain…

“The only place we’re not here is probably Antarctica,” joked Yat Siu, boss of Animoca, in an interview with Forbes in February. However, his group, whose main business was originally mobile video games, was close to bankruptcy. In 2017, its earnings are in free fall, and its market capitalization – once listed in Australia – Animoca – is no more than a few million. But Yat Siu, who grew up in Vienna, learned to program on a Texas Instruments computer and started his career at Atari in Germany, is adaptable and has flair.

Many redemptions in a video game

In early 2018 — shortly after selling its portfolio of 318 “casual” mobile games (easily accessible and aimed at a very general audience) for $3.8 million — Animoca invested in Dapper Labs, publisher of CryptoKitties games. This game, which allows you to breed, buy and sell virtual cats via crypto-ether, delights Yata Siu and convinces him of the potential of Web3. Due to a lack of funds, Animoca proposes a stock exchange to Dapper Labs; a montage that would become his trademark during subsequent “deals”.

Fiscal year 2021 marks a new turning point for the group. Amid the media frenzy fueled by Facebook around the metaverse and Web3, investors’ attention is on Animoca, which raised $216.3 million last year (not counting the $93 million Sandbox round). In January, the firm again raised almost 360 million, then 75 million in July, based on a valuation of 6 billion. A pile of “cash” that allows Yat Siu to deploy his strategy.

“The first billion people to move to blockchain will be made up of people with a ‘gamer’ profile,” he said publicly in 2019. bought in recent weeks a lot of video game studios, which he gives free rein, acting as a conductor. Strategy and methods of work, reminiscent of Embracer or Tencent in traditional video games.

“Open Metaverse”

“We are completely independent,” says David Nadal, president of Lyon-based studio Eden Games, which was bought out by Animoca in April. To help us integrate technology blocks (blockchain, NFT) into our upcoming Web3 racing game, they are sending teams from other group organizations that have the experience to do so. The goal of Yat Siu is simple: all paths in Web3 lead to Animoca.

“No one in the group believes in the scenario of a single closed metaverse. On the contrary, we believe that we are moving towards an open metaverse with a set of destinations,” emphasizes Benjamin Charbit, head of the Paris-based Darewise studio working on the video game metaverse (“Life Beyond”), which was acquired by Animoka in March. And Life Beyond is one direction, Sandbox is another, Eden Games is another. To infinity Web3 and beyond.

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