Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) exploded in early 2021, and have since been riding the crest of the blockchain wave, making several millionaires and even two billionaires. We’re talking about the founders of blockchain startup OpenSea, who, during a funding round announced on January 4, joined the ten-figure club.
During the round, the company was valued at US$13.3 billion. To give you an idea, just 6 months ago, the value was US$1.5 billion. As a result, co-founders Devin Finzer and Alex Atallah, who have an estimated 18.5% stake in OpenSea, are worth about $2.2 billion each — according to estimates from Forbes, which discounts the value of private companies for account of limitations in its liquidity.
The company was founded four years ago in New York, being one of the first in the NFT industry to take off in early 2021. It was created to serve as a trusted site in the purchase and sale of NFTs, since this type of asset appeared not long ago – noting that there are platforms that list safe services, such as Trustworthy.com, a site that focuses on sports betting houses and virtual casinos, mentioning each one according to its reliability, licenses and regulations in the country of origin, among other relevant data.
OpenSea’s platform allows users to create, buy and sell their own NFTs, charging a 2.5% fee for each sale. Non-fungible tokens are files used to track ownership of unique and exclusive digital assets, such as art, music, and any other virtual item, on a ledger – the so-called blockchain.
As of March 2020, the five-person company had around 4,000 active users, who were doing around $1.1 million in transactions per month and generating approximately $28,000 in monthly revenue. Since then, it has skyrocketed – starting in February 2021, when platforms like Nifty Gateway auctioned high-end digital art, which generated interest in the market.
Back in July, the company had agreed a $100 million financing round, led by venture capital Andreessen Horowitz, recording approximately $350 million in transactions that month. In August, transactions boomed: $3.4 billion, a tenfold increase that generated $85 million in commission income.
Since then, the market has been cooling down, only to warm up again in December 2021. In the month in question, OpenSea processed more than $3.3 billion in sales – revenue of $82.5 million. Today, it has 70 employees.
The two new NFT billionaires are each around 30 years old and have a promising track record shared by many young tech billionaires. Finzer, the CEO, studied at Brown University and grew up in the San Francisco. He got a job as a software engineer at Pinterest after college and co-founded his own startup in 2015 – the search engine Claimdog, which he sold to Credit Karma a year later.
The CTO, or chief technology officer, Atallah, was born in Colorado and studied at Stanford while working at Palantir. After graduating, the spreadsheet genius worked at startups Zugata and Whatsgoodly – both in Silicon Valley. The pair teamed up in January 2018 with the idea of paying users cryptocurrency to share the Wi-Fi hotspots they used – however, CryptoKitties inspired them to launch OpenSea and move to New York.
It is worth mentioning that, from investors alone, the company has raised more than US$ 420 million since its inception. With the new bid, the company says it will expand its workforce and focus on security teams, in addition to investing to make its products more accessible and popular.