The Los Angeles-based Chiru Labs, the company behind the highly publicized Azuki NFT line, expects to receive at least $30 million in a further Series A fundraising round.
The targeted amount of the raise was confirmed by three people with knowledge of the fundraising operation. According to one of those sources, the majority of the money has already been allocated, and if the round is closed, Chiru would be worth between $300 million and $400 million. A fourth individual familiar with the agreement warned that although the specifics have not yet been decided, they will soon.
The announcement comes only a week after Reddit co-founder and NFT enthusiast Alexis Ohanian’s venture capital firm 776 raised $54 million at a $704 million valuation for fellow NFT developer Doodles. Proof Collective, the company behind Moonbirds, raised $50 million in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz on August 30. (a16z). The developers of Azuki, Doodles, and Moonbirds follow in the footsteps of Yuga Labs, which secured $450 million in a round led by a16z in March, valuing the business at $4 billion.
10,000 anime characters known as “Azukis” are sideways-facing, depicted in various moods, and equipped with various props like weapons and headgear. A particularly uncommon piece from the set sold for 420 ETH, or more than $1 million USD, about six months ago. According to data from OpenSea, the least expensive Azukis are currently valued 11.2 ETH (about $14,000).
The cryptocurrency elite favors this collection. The uncommon Azuki that Arthur Cheong, founder of the web3 investing company DeFiance Capital, uses as his Twitter profile photo. Adrian Cheng, a millionaire real estate magnate from Hong Kong, who recently bought 101 Azuki NFTs, agrees. 200 million dollars are being raised by Cheng to invest in the cryptocurrency market.
However, Azuki’s ascension has not been without incident. In May, Azuki’s founder, Zagabond, released a blog post in which they effectively explained the details of three failed NFT initiatives they had worked on and later abandoned prior to founding Azuki. At the same time, the average price of an Azuki fell from more than 30 ETH to 10 ETH — and has yet to recover.
In general, the NFT market has struggled in recent months. Art and collectibles NFTs have failed to exceed $100 million in weekly sales since May. In August of the previous year, sales of the same type of NFTs totaled nearly $1 billion in a single week.