OpenSea, the leading marketplace in the surging NFT industry, announced today that it will launch an investment arm to fund Web3 startups and projects, as well as a community grants program to support community initiatives that benefit the wider Web3 and NFT ecosystem.
OpenSea Ventures will provide funding, advice, technical support, and strategic connections alike to portfolio companies. The initiative will be led by OpenSea co-founder Alex Attalah, and beyond access to its own leadership, OpenSea will provide access to partners and investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Animoca Brands, Katie Haun, and musician 3LAU.
Per today’s announcement, the investment arm will focus on four key themes, including the “shift to a multi-chain world” for both fungible and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), NFT-related protocols, Web3 gaming and social projects, and NFT aggregators and analytics platforms that support both OpenSea and other marketplaces.
In addition to OpenSea Ventures, the firm aims to support projects emerging from the Web3 community with its Ecosystem Grants initiative. OpenSea aims to support projects that improve user accessibility and developer tooling around NFTs, create educational resources, and promote inclusivity and accessibility.
OpenSea is initially looking to support short-term projects that can be launched within two quarters of receiving the grant, but the company will evolve its criteria and expand its focus over time. The firm plans to establish a review committee and announce the initial details and criteria before choosing the first set of grantees.
An NFT acts like a deed of ownership to a unique digital item, and it can represent things like profile pictures, digital illustrations, video-based collectibles, and more. The wider NFT market generated $25 billion worth of trading volume in 2021, per data from DappRadar. OpenSea was responsible for a majority of that figure as trading surged in the back half of the year.
Today’s announcements come after a record month of trading volume for OpenSea, which registered more than $5 billion worth between Ethereum and Polygon trading in January. That beat the previous combined record of less than $3.5 billion from last August, when the NFT market began surging to new heights.
Also last month, OpenSea announced a $300 million Series C round that values the startup at $13.3 billion, in a round led by Paradigm and Coatue. That’s a marked increase in valuation from its Series B round, which brought in $100 million at a $1.5 billion valuation.