NFTs march into the spotlight – Los Angeles Business Journal

Unchangeable signs have become a hot commodity and are now making their way into the Hollywood entertainment industry.

Invisible Universe, an El Segundo-based animation studio, announced last week that it had raised $12 million in a Series A funding round led by tech entrepreneur and investor Alexis.

Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six. Prominent digital media investors joining Ohanian, known for co-founding Reddit, include Cosmic Venture Partners, Dapper Labs, Franklin Templeton, Gaingels, Initialized Capital, Schusterman Family Investments, Wheelhouse and 75 & Sunny.

The new funding will help the company expand its footprint into new platforms, further monetize existing franchises and launch new animated intellectual property (IP) on social media and Web3.

Invisible Universe is an Internet-first animation studio, meaning it develops and debuts original animated IP on social media.

“Our belief is that the next generation’s favorite animated franchises will be born online and introduced to them perhaps in the apps they are most likely to use on their phones every day,” said Tricia Biggio. , CEO of Invisible. The universe. “And so we distribute our content on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, really thinking about incubating IP in an online-first way where you can iterate in real time with the audience.”

Celebrity partners

Invisible Universe works in partnership with celebrities and influencers, including Serena Williams, Jennifer Aniston and the D’Amelio family to develop and promote its creations.

Qai Qai is a character developed in partnership with Williams based on her daughter Olympia’s favorite doll. The character’s TikTok, YouTube and Instagram accounts have more than 4 million followers combined. Since her launch, Qai Qai has become a best-selling doll on Amazon, partnered with Adobe to create a coloring book in honor of International Day of the Girl, and teamed up with children’s social media platform Zigazoo on two collection lines digital for Zigazoo followers on the app.

Recently, Invisible Universe launched a YouTube channel for the character and has produced several short videos for the platform. The company is also launching a children’s book by Williams called The Adventures of Qai Qai.

“For us, (web first) means that before we think about publishing or a long-form show on a broadcaster, we’re first using the platforms that are available to us on Web2, and now with Web3, to incubate The IP… We’re not waiting for a studio to greenlight a season or tell us what our budget might be, but we’re really saying, let’s look at our IP package as if we’re a company technology that puts out (a minimum viable product) and every character franchise is really that,” Biggio explained. “We incubate quickly and listen to audience feedback, iterate in real time, and we’re able to double down on things that really work and scale back or get rid of things that might not come as well.”

Invisible Universe monetizes YouTube and Web3 analytics. A company representative declined to discuss revenue or other financial figures, including how much the company earns from its YouTube subscribers.

“Beyond that, we think about IP licensing and that could be for broadcasters. We can sell long-form TV shows, eventually we can do movies and games and podcasts and other audio experiences,” Biggio said. “We really look at it like social media is where we start. It’s going to remain the hub. its gravity, but when we’ve done our job right, you’ll see our characters on the shelves of your local Target and you’ll see them on the bookshelves at Barnes & Noble.

Changing times

While some see immutable tokens as a temporary fad, some high-profile individuals and companies in the entertainment industry want to capitalize on its popularity and capitalize on the potential new revenue stream.

Fox Entertainment has been one of the biggest media companies to move into the blockchain space. In June of last year her animation studio Bento Box Entertainment created North Hollywood-based Blockchain Creative Labs and launched a $100 million creative fund.

Last October, Fox Entertainment debuted its own NFT marketplace, which it calls The MaskVerse, that allows users to buy, sell, or trade tokens. Fox’s blockchain company released 10,000 NFT “Miss Masky”, based on its reality show “The Masked Singer”.

Through her blockbuster entertainment company Sixth Wall, actress Mila Kunis has invested in downtown-based animation company Toonstar’s “The Gimmicks,” a series that gives NFT holders the chance to vote on the story.

Launched in early fall, Invisible Universe’s The R3al Metaverse is a community-driven project that allows NFT holders to influence the story of the animated series, which is a parody of reality TV shows and features animated characters. inspired by popular NFT projects such as like Bored Ape Yacht Club, Cool Cats and Robotos.

The evolving Internet

Many people in and out of show business are still wrapping their heads around the technology, which has garnered skepticism about crypto’s turbulent time in the market. However, it is believed that NFTs are here to stay for Web3.

Christopher Smith, a clinical professor of communication at the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, said that as the eras of social media and content streaming have reached maturity, the mission in a capitalist society is to find out what’s next.

“Web3 is a work in progress. It’s not here yet; It’s not fully functional, but all these venture capitalists, the established platform companies don’t want to lose their dominance,” Smith said. “So you have venture capitalists funding future visions with platform companies that are already dominant. , and a whole new generation of startups, all vying for a position in what will drive future growth.”

He added that the whole notion of NFTs is that it is a digital entity where holders have a certain set of property rights, including the ability to resell or monetize the future collection of that item.

“NFTs are very much built on the promise of blockchain giving people an ownership position in the future of the Internet,” Smith said. “This is a very promising proposition.”
The path to becoming mainstream NFTs is difficult, but not impossible.

“I would say what you’re going to see is, probably regardless of what the broader economic climate is, whether it’s recessionary or whether it goes back into a full growth phase, it’s going to last probably, I would estimate, over the next period . five years for a crypto-driven entertainment ecosystem built on the blockchain, to be honest,” Smith explained. “It’s going to take some time and it’s going to take some simplification.”

He said that Web3 and NFTs have not reached the level of simplification necessary for the average person to understand what is in it for them.

“The opportunity for NFTs is twofold. There is immediate opportunity for large media and entertainment conglomerates who already have a treasure chest of IP…that they can provide in NFT collectible formats and use as marketing tools and as promotional tools and communication tools for fans of “They’ve already seen with games, ecosystems like Fortnite and Roblox that these avatars and skins that users and fans collect generate a lot of revenue.”

The second layer, Smith said, lies with new entertainment companies like Invisible Universe, which are creating community-driven IPs that generate new characters that “a new generation of fans care about and participate in their lives.” These companies are representative of the notion that Web3 will be “a much more democratized space” with room for new players to get involved.

“I think what blockchain technology has introduced to consumers is something that will not go away. While gate prices are lower than they were six, seven months ago, I don’t think the underlying consumer behaviors are going to change around that,” Biggio said. “I think what we’ve seen and unlocked in Web3 is this process truly collaborative that is shifting paradigms around ownership, about what it means to participate in a community, and really what it means to incubate IP.”

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