Upland Closes $18 Million Round Led by Animoca Brands and is Now Valued at $300 Million
PALO ALTO, Calif — November 2, 2021 — Uplandme.Inc. (Upland), one of the fastest-growing metaverses on blockchain that is mapped to the real world and one of the most sustainable NFT platforms, today announced a Series A funding round of $18 million at a $300 million valuation led by Animoca Brands. Previous investor FinLab EOS VC Fund managed by C3 Management contributed to the round. New investors include OneTeam Partners — who recently facilitated Upland’s deal with the NFLPA — Block.one, Alumni Ventures Blockchain Fund, Global Founders Capital, Com2uS, Crit Ventures, Korea Investment Partners, Michael Ronen (former Softbank Managing Partner), Mike Vorhaus (Vorhaus Advisors), Michael Terpin (Founder/CEO of Transform Group), and others.
Yat Siu, the co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, said: “We are impressed with what the team has built so far. Upland has innovated in many ways, including its mobile-first approach offering users iOS and Android apps. Its ‘NFT to fiat’ offering allows metaverse citizens to sell their digital assets to other players for US dollars. Most importantly, Upland’s NFT Portal enables NFT portability from different blockchains, making possible the interoperability that is a crucial pillar of the open metaverse.”
“Our platform continues to see amazing growth, an enthusiastic community and a thriving economy, and this is just the beginning. We know that we bring a unique proposition to the dynamic field of NFTs. What sets us apart is Upland’s connection to the real world in combination with engaging game mechanics driving an almost endless number of compelling use cases for NFTs,” said Dirk Lueth, co-founder of Upland. “We are proud that Animoca Brands, a clear thought leader in gaming and blockchain, led this funding round. This will be a strong partnership that will help us to expand into new territories and start the next chapter in Upland’s history.”
Animoca Brands (https://www.animocabrands.com/) is bringing digital property rights to online users, primarily for consumer video game players and the metaverse, through the use of blockchain and NFTs; these technologies enable the true digital ownership of users’ virtual assets and data, and offer various play-to-earn capabilities, asset interoperability, and DeFi/GameFi opportunities.
After it launched in open beta in early 2020, Upland has gone from strength to strength. 13 US cities have already opened and over 100,000 virtual landowners from all around the world already enjoy Upland’s metaverse. Over 2 Million NFTs have been purchased by players, and places like San Francisco and Manhattan have been sold out of virtual land since the beginning of this year. Each day, more than 60,000 daily active users buy, sell and trade virtual properties, build houses, complete property collections, and participate in treasure hunts and city tours.
“Innovation is a core part of our DNA,” said Idan Zuckerman, co-founder of Upland. “Just recently we launched Upland Legits which is a new suite of NFT offerings designed to enable brands, personalities, and organizations, such as sports clubs, athletes, artists, entertainment brands, to extend their real-life presence into the Upland metaverse and beyond. Our community can’t get enough of it!”
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) was the first brand to utilize Legits in Upland, bringing over 2,000 football players into the metaverse. The NFLPA also became an indirect shareholder in Upland via OneTeam Partners.
Upland’s motto is to “Rebuild the World” and it takes sustainability very seriously: in June 2021, Upland offset a whole year of the carbon footprint of the EOS Public Blockchain on which Upland operates its NFT metaverse.
“Our investment in Upland underscores our belief in providing resources that empower creators to build solutions that propel blockchain-based applications forward and bring to life what is possible in this new digital economy,” said Brendan Blumer, CEO of Block.one, the company behind the EOSIO software. “Dirk and the entire Upland team continue to champion state-of-art advancements in gaming and we’re proud to support their use of EOSIO as they grow their business and push the boundaries for this exciting industry. “We have believed in the Upland idea and team from day one and invested earlier via our partner C3 Management GmbH and now directly”, continued Brendan Blumer. ”It is amazing to see how the team has implemented our technology and provides a high degree of user-friendliness, scalability, and cost effectiveness.”
“We are excited about blockchain gaming with the play-to-earn model. Upland brings a unique take on this model, tying in the real world with real-estate, sports and more, while remaining mobile conscious. Dirk has demonstrated the vision from the beginning and therefore we are excited to be a part of their latest round,” said Kyu Lee, President Com2uS, USA.
The new funding will be used to grow the teams in the US and Europe, and to invest in brand partnerships and user acquisition.
ABOUT UPLANDME, INC.
Uplandme, Inc. (https://upland.me/) was founded in 2018 by Dirk Lueth, Idan Zuckerman and Mani Honigstein and is based in Mountain View, CA. The company operates Upland, a metaverse that sits on top of the real world and allows users to play, earn and connect with others. It follows the principles of an open market economy, using blockchain technology to ensure true ownership of digital assets (NFTs). Upland is available on iOS, Android and the web. It can be played from anywhere in the world. Information about Upland and its commitment to sustainability can be found here: https://www.upland.me/sustainability.
ABOUT ANIMOCA BRANDS
Animoca Brands, ranked in the Financial Times list of High Growth Companies Asia-Pacific 2021, is a leader in digital entertainment, blockchain, and gamification. It develops and publishes a broad portfolio of products including the REVV token and SAND token; original games including The Sandbox, Crazy Kings, and Crazy Defense Heroes; and products utilizing popular intellectual properties including Formula 1®, Marvel, WWE, Power Rangers, MotoGP™, and Doraemon. The company has multiple subsidiaries, including The Sandbox, Blowfish Studios, Quidd, GAMEE, nWay, Pixowl, and Lympo. Animoca Brands has a growing portfolio of more than 100 investments in NFT-related companies and decentralized projects that are contributing to building the open metaverse, including Axie Infinity, OpenSea, Dapper Labs (NBA Top Shot), Bitski, Harmony, Alien Worlds, Star Atlas, and others. For more information visit https://www.animocabrands.com.
ABOUT C3 MANAGEMENT AND FINLAB EOS VC FUND
C3 Management GmbH (https://www.c3-management.com) is an asset management company focused on managing venture funds which invest in exceptional technology companies worldwide. With our FinLab EOS VC Venture Fund, our mission is, among other things, to accelerate growth, development, and especially adoption of EOSIO-based blockchains and the EOSIO software.
The FinLab EOS VC Fund is part of Block.one’s EOS VC program and offers developers and entrepreneurs the funding they need to create community-driven businesses leveraging EOSIO. The EOS VC Fund focuses on early and growth stage technology companies and typically takes a minority equity stake. C3 operates worldwide and is located in Frankfurt, Germany.
Block.one is an asset holding and investment company that creates, incubates, and invests in businesses that build trust in transactions, transparency in systems, and efficiency in how our world works. Through strategic capital allocation and pioneering business ventures, Block.one has funded more than 100 innovative entrepreneurs to date. Block.one is also the creator of EOSIO, a highly performant open-source blockchain software, built to support and operate safe, compliant and predictable digital infrastructures. For more information, please visit Block.one.
ABOUT ALUMNI VENTURES BLOCKCHAIN FUND
Alumni Ventures Blockchain Fund (http://www.avblockchain.com) is a network-driven venture capital to help build the blockchain community one block at a time. The fund invests in innovative ventures that focus on blockchain solutions including DeFi, gaming/metaverse, NFT, blockchain infrastructure and protocols. We partner with leading companies across sectors, stages and geographies to empower the blockchain economy. Our 600K+ community enables us to access exciting new avenues of growth for our portfolio companies.”
ABOUT GLOBAL FOUNDERS CAPITAL
Global Founders Capital is a leading global venture fund, backing gifted entrepreneurs across all continents, stages and industries. Among GFC’s previous investments are companies such as Linkedin, Facebook, Slack, Canva and Animoca Brands.
ABOUT ONETEAM PARTNERS
Formed in November 2019, OneTeam Partners is a joint venture between the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), MLB Players Association (MLBPA) and RedBird Capital Partners. OneTeam helps athletes maximize the value of their name, image and likeness rights by transforming the way in which athletes interact with businesses across four verticals: licensing, marketing, content and investing. OneTeam represents a range of commercial business interests on behalf of the NFLPA, MLBPA, Major League Soccer PA, U.S. Women’s National Team PA, WNBPA, and U.S. Rugby PA. To learn more visit www.joinoneteam.com.
Established in 1998 and headquartered in South Korea, Com2uS operates internationally with offices in the United States, Germany, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, China, Thailand and Vietnam, and became a subsidiary of GAMEVIL in 2013. The mission is simple. As a leading developer and publisher of mobile games, they thrive on creating games with a level of depth and engagement rarely experienced on mobile platforms. Com2uS has a number of mobile games around the world, including Summoners War, Ace Fishing: Wild Catch and Golf Star. With over 100 million downloads and global sales of $2 billion, Summoners War is the #1 grossing game in 86 countries and in the top 10 in 137. The game’s RPG mobile sales is ranked first in 133 countries and continues to grow worldwide.