A $32 million seed round for Chris DeWolfe’s next gaming biz defies 2023 trends • TechCrunch

A $32 million seed round will be available in .

Very moolah in a volatile market and even from two separate a16z funds. The company debuted his $600 million gaming vehicle and his $4.5 billion cryptocurrency fund, both announced last May.

Next, PLAI Labs ticks all the boxes on VC’s wish list.

First and foremost, the LA-based outfit was founded by veteran tech entrepreneurs Chris DeWolfe and Aber Whitcomb. The two previously co-founded the once-popular social media platform MySpace (which he sold to MySpace for $580 million in 2005) and mobile game studio Jam City.

The latter will remain private, but will receive a $350 million investment in 2021 from affiliates of Netmarble, Kabam, and Fortress Investment Group-managed funds after scrapping plans to go public through a special purpose acquisition company. Successfully raised funds. fine. (Indeed, Jam City, which claims to have 30 million monthly active users, announced this morning its third co-founder, Josh Yguado, who previously served as his COO and president of the company. announced that he was running the show.)

Not only was PLAI (pronounced /plā/) launched by its veteran founders, but it also seems to weave all the hottest trends into one product, “using web3 and generative AI technology to create the ultimate Our mission is to “deliver online social experiences.”

Cipher? check. Generative AI? Checks. A new social platform? Where to write the check is a question the a16z team must have been asking.

PLAI’s first product sounds appealing. We’ll be discussing the details with DeWolfe over the next few days, but in a blog post the team at a16z described their project, Champions Ascension, as “a massively multiplayer online role-playing game that players can port into their existing games. game,” he explains. – Replaceable Token (NFT) characters, joining quests, trading items, fighting in the Coliseum, building your own custom his dungeon, and more.

PLAI is also “building an AI protocol platform.” It aims to allow users to generate their own content and assets with the help of the Generative Art Protocol being developed by PLAI.

Again, details are coming.

In the meantime, the bet is the latest by investor Andrew Chen, who now heads up gaming operations at Andreessen Horowitz. Just two days ago, he said that pan-African social gaming and interactive content publisher Carry1st had raised $27 million in “pre-series B” funding from investors including a16z.

Andreessen Horowitz recently led an $8 million round for Gym Class, a VR-based basketball app that went through the famed accelerator Y Combinator.

In the fall of 2021, before the a16z gaming practice even existed, the company’s cryptocurrency team made a big bet on another NFT game, Axie Infinity. The game invited users to ‘play to earn’ virtual currency tokens and called ‘Axies.’ The Ronin blockchain was hacked last July, stealing $620 million worth of cryptocurrency.

The company, still trying to collect user funds, resumed operations shortly thereafter.

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