Animoca Brands has invested in some of the leading metaverse and NFT projects, including OpenSea, Dapper Labs and Axie Infinity creator Sky Mavis. But it’s just made what may be its most culturally significant investment to date, in the tiny company that owns three of the biggest NFT brands on the planet.

Yuga Labs is the company behind the cultural phenomenon that is the Bored Ape Yacht Club, the most successful NFT project in history.

The cheapest apes currently sell for 103 Ethereum (US$303,000) and they all serve as a membership pass to a social club filled with A-list celebrities.

Yuga also recently acquired the CryptoPunk and Meebits collections from Larva Labs, putting three of most profitable NFT collections under one roof.

Now Yuga has announced it has raised funds at massive US$4 billion valuation, and has plans to create a media empire built around NFTs.

Andreesen Horowitz led the $450 million funding round, Yuga Labs’ first, with participation from Animoca Brands, Coinbase, Moonpay and FTX.

Yuga plans to use the funds to develop brand partnerships and hire more employees – it has just 40 – and develop a forthcoming metaverse project called Otherside that aims to connect the NFT universe. It’ll be a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) in which players’ NFTs serve as their avatars.

Yuga CEO Nicole Muniz told Decrypt that the Otherside will include NFTs beyond those managed by Yuga Labs, and that several different studios are helping develop the game.

“We’re opening the doors to effectively a walled garden and saying, ‘Everybody’s welcome,’” Muniz said.

‘Thrilled and honored’

Formerly ASX-listed Animoca Brands is “incredibly thrilled and honored” to support the vision of Yuga Labs and join its first-ever funding round, Animoca co-founder and executive chairman Yat Siu has tweeted.

Yuga Labs “has built one of the most iconic and powerful #openmetaverse first #NFT brands and are creating an incredible foundation for building an inclusive #NFT ecosystem just how @TheSandboxGame and @BoredApeYC are already connected communities,” Siu added.

“We are incredibly excited about what is still to come,” he concluded.

Animoca is working with Yuga Labs on several fronts – on a play-to-earn game and a mystery project that’s been in the works for the past seven months.

This article was developed in collaboration with Animoca Brands, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.