a16z crypto – the crypto-focused arm of VC firm Andreesen Horowitz – is leading a $50 million funding round for the VeeFriends Non-Fungible Token (NFT) Project. The funding will help VeeFriends expand its “creative, technical, and experiential operations” to support the growth of the Web 3 ecosystem.
Understanding Vee Friends
A16z general partner Chris Lyons explained the firm’s interest in VeeFriends in an announcement thread on Thursday.
VeeFriends is an NFT collection launched by Gary Vaynerchuck – a highly popular social media entrepreneur and CEO of VaynerMedia. He regularly produces motivational and business-oriented content for his YouTube audience.
Vaynerchuck has taken a strong interest in web 3 over the past year, creating a stream of educational content about blockchain, NFTs, and why they matter. His VeeFriends collection is meant to leverage web 3 via “meaningful intellectual property and an extraordinary community,” the VeeFriends website
The collection is comprised of childlike hand-drawn animal cartoons based on “meaningful attributes” like tolerance, patience, and authenticity. These are traits that Vaynerhcuk frequently advocates for in his regular content.
“VeeFriends NFTs are brought to life through motivational storytelling and creative on-chain character development,” said Lyons.
An NFT is a unique digital blockchain token without any equal. Though NFTs are often marketed in collections of hundreds or thousands at a time, each token typically contains attributes that make them slightly different from all others.
Thus, such tokens can be used for creating digital collectibles, or for representing other non-fungible assets. VeeFriends in particular offers holders various utilities, such as providing access to in-person events like VeeCon.
Web 3 Over Bitcoin
A common thread shared between a16z and Vaynerchuck is their relative disinterest in Bitcoin, versus the broader world of blockchain, NFTs, and decentralized apps.
“I kind of dismissed it as because I don’t love finance, I don’t love financial arbitrage. I don’t really understand basic financial concepts,” Vaynerchuck told Yahoo Finance about Bitcoin in November.
By contrast, the value of Ethereum was an immediate click for the entrepreneur. “I was aware that something had happened where people collected something digital,” he said.
Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum allows for the creation of tokens and other financial assets on-chain, like NFTs. Bitcoin NFTs only exist on sidechains.
In a similar fashion, a16z released a length report in May concerning the adoption of web 3 in 2022, which contained no mention of Bitcoin, yet frequent mention of Ethereum. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has slammed the VC firm for taking this approach, preferring to build atop bitcoin instead.