“Toys are not really as innocent as they look. Toys and games are preludes to serious ideas.” — Charles Eames
Virtual trading cards of kittens, artwork, and people might not seem like the most obvious place to build a new type of cryptocurrency exchange, but that’s exactly what ignited Dave, Amitt, Danny, and Payom at Rare Bits.
While many people see gaming as an adjunct to media or Hollywood, it has a long history of being the gateway to the frontiers of technology. From the first computers showing Space War to the first social networks, virtual economies, and virtual reality, play is often the first thing consumers try in a new medium. Dave and Amitt themselves are no strangers to this, having formed part of the founding team that built Farmville at Zynga, a game that was so popular it actually contributed materially to social networking’s early growth.
And just as the first items sold on eBay were beanie babies, in the world of crypto the most popular non-currency to be traded on the blockchain today is CryptoKitties. These aren’t the first virtual goods by a long shot, but there’s something entirely new here for consumers.
Blockchain-based smart contracts offer something that virtual goods have always wanted: the ability for a person to buy, sell, and trade that item without a centralized controller like a Facebook, Activision, or Google who really “owns” that item and is renting it to you. For the first time the consumer truly owns that virtual item and it can be ascribed a true market value.
That’s the benefit of smart contracts to a virtual good, but unfortunately today these goods are spread on dozens of sites with no simple interface to interact with them. Rare Bits has built just that platform, and Spark Capital is proud to announce we are leading their $6M Series A, along with First Round Capital. What gets traded on the platform will undoubtedly change, but the core need for a transparent exchange for these goods is something we at Spark are excited to partner with the team on.