PROOF, the Web3 media startup from Digg co-founder and venture capitalist Kevin Rose, just made waves in the NFT space with the massive launch of its Moonbirds project. And now the firm has raised funds from another well-known tech founder: Alexis Ohanian.
Today, Rose announced that PROOF has raised $10 million from Seven Seven Six, the VC firm founded by Ohanian, best known as the co-founder of Reddit. Rose wrote in a tweet that his own VC firm True Ventures also participated in the funding round, but he specifically said in a Twitter Space today that Ohanian’s firm “invested $10 million.”
PROOF began life last year as a podcast, an offshoot from Rose’s existing Modern Finance podcast. Last December, the company launched the PROOF Collective, a private community of 1,000 people via NFT access passes, unlocking things like free NFT drops, access to future events, and other perks and benefits.
The PROOF Collective NFTs sold via a Dutch auction format starting at 5 ETH apiece, but their value has surged on the secondary market. As of this writing, the cheapest available NFT was listed on OpenSea at nearly 115 ETH—about $346,000.
That price has jumped significantly in recent weeks due to the buzz around Moonbirds, PROOF’s first Ethereum NFT profile picture collection, which launched April 16. PROOF NFT holders each received two Moonbirds NFTs, and ultimately 7,875 more were sold at 2.5 ETH apiece (about $7,600) to collectors who won a spot on the allowlist via a raffle.
Moonbirds soared on the secondary market immediately after the launch, and ultimately the project generated $280 million worth of total sales within the first two days. As of this writing, CryptoSlam reports a total of $446 million worth of trading volume for the project.
An NFT acts like a deed of ownership to a unique digital item, including images, video files, and interactive video game items. It can also work as an access pass into gated online communities and live events, as PROOF, the Bored Ape Yacht Club, and other notable NFT projects have done.
In a video interview posted today, Rose said that PROOF did not need to raise outside funding, but that he wanted the opportunity to collaborate with Ohanian. PROOF plans to release additional NFTs alongside creating Web3 content, launching a live conference in 2023, and other planned initiatives.
PROOF’s COO departs
But PROOF’s rapid rise hasn’t come without controversy. Soon after the launch of Moonbirds, PROOF co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Ryan Carson announced the launch of an NFT investment fund, 121G—and started buying up Moonbirds on the secondary market.
Following questions from collectors over whether Carson had bought the NFTs while benefiting from inside knowledge of PROOF’s future plans and further utility for Moonbirds, Rose announced today that Carson has decided to leave PROOF to focus on his new fund.
In today’s Twitter Space, Rose answered questions from the Moonbirds community about the timing of Carson’s purchases and his departure. Rose also responded to tweeted questions.
“I had an internal policy not to purchase any Moonbirds until after rarity counts were out to the public,” Rose tweeted. “I can't control someone clicking a button to purchase, but I can put stronger controls in place for all future drops. e.g., no employee purchases for 7-days.”
PROOF has also faced pushback over its potential gifts of Moonbirds NFTs to celebrities. Comedian and TV host Jimmy Fallon—owner of a Bored Ape—tweeted about his Moonbirds NFTs last week, but when BuzzFeed inquired about how Fallon acquired the NFTs, Rose wouldn’t give the publication a straight answer.
“I have an insane roster of advisers across a wide range of disciplines that receive Moonbirds,” Rose told BuzzFeed via email. “Some paid for their Moonbirds, some work for them, and some are gifts for various help and advice they've contributed.”
“I'm not going to get into the financial details of each Moonbird transfer, but know that just looking at the blockchain transfer is silly; it doesn't show you the whole picture of the relationships we've established or why they are receiving them,” he added.
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