Autograph, the NFT platform co-founded in 2021 by NFL quarterback Tom Brady, has made a big splash by attracting athletes and entertainers such as Tiger Woods, The Weeknd, and Simone Biles to its cause. Now the startup has raised big cash as well.
Today, Autograph announced a $170 million Series B funding round co-led by Andreessen Horowitz’s a16z fund and Kleiner Perkins. The round also features investments from Lightspeed Venture Partners, 01A, and former a16z General Partner Katie Haun’s new VC firm.
As part of the raise, Haun will join Autograph’s board of advisors, along with a16z General Partners Chris Dixon and Arianna Simpson, as well as Kleiner Perkins’ Ilya Fushman.
Autograph did not disclose a valuation alongside the funding announcement. The firm previously raised a Series A financing round in July 2021 co-led by 01A and Velvet Sea Ventures. Decrypt inquired with an Autograph representative for the amount of that previous round, but we did not immediately hear back.
The platform was announced in April 2021 amid the first NFT boom, and went live in August in partnership with the DraftKings Marketplace. Along with the aforementioned names, Autograph has also released NFTs from athletes including Tony Hawk, Naomi Osaka, Wayne Gretzky, Derek Jeter, Usain Bolt, and Rob Gronkowski.
The firm writes that the funding came following “several newly finalized” partnerships that will be announced in the near future. Autograph started in sports but has gradually expanded its focus, first with Lionsgate’s “Saw” movie franchise and then with the signing of musician Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, who will oversee the platform’s music vertical.
Brady tweeted about the investment round today, writing that Autograph is “pumped to add some really knowledgeable people in the Web3 space to our team.” He shared a thread from a16z’s Dixon, who wrote that Autograph is “starting with celebrities, but plans to support creators at every stage of development.”
Big news on the @Autograph front. We are pumped to add some really knowledgeable people in the Web3 space to our team. This thread from @cdixon includes some great context on our business. #ToTheMoon 🚀 https://t.co/Xsmws3KQ05
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) January 19, 2022
An NFT acts like a blockchain-backed deed of ownership for a digital item, and can represent things like images, video files, and interactive video game objects. The market swelled to $23 billion worth of trading volume in 2021, per data from DappRadar. Autograph mints its NFTs on Polygon, a sidechain scaling solution for leading NFT platform, Ethereum.
Sports collectibles has been a significant part of the NFT market, with Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot introducing NFTs to mainstream audiences early last year. Dapper also has alliances with the NFL, UFC, and LaLiga. Meanwhile, Fanatics’ Candy Digital platform—which has the official Major League Baseball license—raised $100 million at a $1.5 billion valuation in October.