Metaverse BUD app raises another $37M, plans to launch NFTs – TechCrunch

BUD, a fledgling app that attempts to create a metaverse for Gen Z to play and interact with each other, raised another round of funding in three months.

The Singapore-based startup told TechCrunch it closed $36.8 million in a Series B round led by Sequoia Capital India, shortly after securing a Series A extension in February. The new injection brings BUD’s total funding to over $60 million.

As with previous BUD rounds, this round attracted a handful of top China-focused investors – ClearVue Partners, NetEase and Northern Light Venture Capital. Its existing investors GGV Capital, Qiming Venture Partners and Source Code Capital also participated in the round.

Founded by two former Snap engineers Risa Feng and Shawn Lin in 2019, BUD allows users to create bulbous 3D characters, cute virtual assets, and richly colorful experiences with drag-and-drop and without any coding background.

The company declined to reveal its active user size, but said its users have created more than 15 million personalized experiences, i.e. virtual spaces with gameplay that others can join from. the launch of the application in November. Virtual assets, including costumes and props that users design for characters, have changed hands more than 150 million times in BUD’s marketplace.

These trades are clearly a promising way to generate income, but BUD does not currently charge commissions. It also hasn’t started monetizing in other ways through the app.

Perhaps in part due to its free and ad-free nature, the app is among the top 10 social apps in nearly 40 countries across North America, Southeast Asia, and South America. It is currently the best free social Android app in Thailand and Vietnam, according to market intelligence firm SensorTower.

Apps like Roblox and Zepeto in South Korea have also made it easier to design virtual characters and spaces. BUD takes the user experience one step further by planning to introduce a marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This means that ownership of virtual items sold on BUD will be recorded on the blockchain. Resale of digital assets will likely become possible in the form of NFTs, the authenticity and provenance of which can be more easily verified.

BUD declined to disclose which chain the NFT project will be on or what tokens it will use, but said the market will be “live soon”.

“As BUD makes 3D content creation possible for Gen Z mainstream consumers, we will continue to bring blockchain to mainstream consumers and enable our creators to truly own and monetize their creations,” Lin said in a statement.

The company is growing rapidly and has a team of 130 employees spread between its headquarters in Singapore as well as its offices in Shenzhen and the United States.

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