Sales of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) jumped to record levels in the first half of 2021, reaching $2.5 billion over that time frame. This represents a massive increase over the $13.7 million in sales for the same period in 2020. Much of this volume is attributable to NFT’s Ethereum-based auction platform OpenSea.
2021: the year of the NFT, despite Ethereum’s struggles
The year 2021 was a crazy one for NFT auction platform OpenSea. The startup was extremely well positioned in a niche space when NFTs exploded earlier this year. Since then, the startup has seen its user base grow, total sales volume skyrocket and more and more investors take an interest.
Opensea platform statistics over the last 30 days showing a 165% increase in volumes despite the sluggish crypto market
Statistics of the OpenSea platform over the last 30 days – Source: DappRadar
Despite the weeks of decline at the beginning of the summer, the NFT market has continued to be in full swing, especially with OpenSea recording $160 million in sales last month. The latter is on track to surpass that figure this month, according to its CEO, Devin Finzer.
One of the most obvious obstacles to the company’s growth has been the infrastructure issues specific to the Ethereum blockchain around which its marketplace was built.
OpenSea, the unicorn with thousands of NFT
OpenSea just announced the closing of a $100 million Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). In addition to a16z, the round includes Coatue, Connect Ventures and celebrity investor Ashton Kutcher. Other investors include NBA player Kevin Durant and singer Shawn Mendes.
This latest round of funding gives OpenSea a valuation of $1.5 billion, making it the third unicorn in the NFT sector. As a reminder, last March, OpenSea had completed a $23 million Series A, also led by a16z.
The new funds will be used to further develop OpenSea’s cross-blockchain system, improve the user experience and grow the team. Originally, OpenSea only supported the creation, buying and selling of NFTs on Ethereum. However, the congestion issue and high transaction fees pushed the platform to explore other options. As a result, the project has just announced the integration of Polygon and Klaytn networks. In the future, Flow and Tezos should also be compatible with OpenSea.
“The OpenSea team understood early on the need for an open, cross-blockchain marketplace where anyone can buy, sell and create digital NFTs, which is why they are one of the most important companies in the crypto space today.”Kathryn Haun, General Partner at a16z
For now, OpenSea takes the second spot in the ranking of the largest NFT-related fundraisers. First place goes to Dapper Lab, which raised $305 million in March. On the other hand, there is a rumor about a possible $530 million fundraising for Sorare. The information has yet to be confirmed, but it seems that the Japanese bank SoftBank is preparing this investment round.