Spencer Dinwiddie's Calaxy, a social token platform built on the Hedera Hashgraph, has just closed a $26 million funding round and appointed a new CEO.
The strategic funding round was co-led by The HBAR Foundation, which welcomed console gaming giant Ubisoft to its ecosystem in February, and Animoca Brands, which recently acquired three game studios in its quest to dominate the Web3 gaming space.
Polygon, which has become a destination for apps leaving the Terra network, also participated in the round.
When it launched last summer, the platform had raised $7.5 million in seed funding and offered Calaxy Creator tokens from actress and singer Teyana Taylor and NBA star Iman Shumpert.
Since then, the platform has minted one billion Calaxy Creator (CLXY) tokens in April and currently has a fully diluted market cap of $546 million, according to Live Coin Watch.
The new funding will be used to expand the Calaxy platform as the team prepares to come out of beta later this summer.
"We're further building out the ecosystem. So that's both the app and the protocol itself," Dinwiddie told Decrypt on a call last week. "You know, the token serves a governance component as well. And being a protocol, we want other decentralized applications to be built on top of it."
Dinwiddie's co-founder, Calaxy COO, and former Wall Street banker Solo Ceesay will take over as the chief executive.
"We envision a world where anyone, no matter their experience level with crypto, will be able to use our mobile and web applications to connect with their favorite content creators," Ceesay told Decrypt in an email. "When it's all said and done, we want to be the project that defined the standards for social tokens and Web3 fan engagement."
Dinwiddie and crypto
The change means that Dinwiddie will take a role as executive chair, a step back from the day-to-day operations at Calaxy. Pursuing social tokens, let alone an entire platform and protocol, almost didn't happen for Dinwiddie.
He first garnered attention in crypto circles in 2019 when he got into a spat with the NBA after saying he would tokenize his $34 million contract. They blocked his efforts twice. When he finally did start selling tokens in 2020, he only managed to raise $1.35 million.
Since then, he's found his access to big names has been a huge asset as they work to bring more people onto the Calaxy platform.
"I think our secret sauce comes down to our network," he said. "Like at the end of the day, I mean, not to pat myself on the back, but it's definitely a different experience when one phone call can get you in touch with, you know, Ezekiel Elliott or Matt James or LeBron James, for that matter."
Even if the league and other skeptics have warmed to crypto out of financial interest instead of enthusiasm for the technology, Dinwiddie said, it's better than being openly mocked.
"I'd say it's far more fun not catching bullets all the time," he said. "When I first talked about [crypto], I was either crazy, and it was, you know, 'Shut up.' Or I was just getting straight ridiculed about it."