BUD, a fledgling app trying to create a metaverse for Gen Z to play and interact with each other, has raised another round of funding in three months.
Metaverse – The Singapore-based startup told TechCrunch that it closed a $36.8 million Series B round led by Sequoia Capital India, shortly after it secured a Series A extension in February. The new infusion brings BUD total funding to more than $60 million.
As with previous BUD round, this raising round attracted a handful of prominent China-focused investors ClearVue Partner, NetEase and Northern Light Venture Capital. Its existing investors GGV Capital, Qiming Venture Partners and Source Code Capital also participated in the round.
Founded by two ex-Snap engineer, Risa Feng and Shawn Lin, in 2019, BUD enables users to create voluminous 3D characters, compelling virtual assets, and color-rich experience via drag-and-drop and without any prior coding knowledge.
The company declined to disclose its active user size, but said its users have created more than 15 million personalized experiences : virtual spaces with game that others can join since the app launched in November. Virtual assets, including costumes and accessories that users design for characters, have changed hands more than 150 million times on the BUD marketplace.
These transactions are clearly a promising way to generate income, but BUD is not charging commissions for now. It has also not started monetizing by other means through the app.
Perhaps in part due to its free-to-use, ad-free nature, the app has been among the top 10 social apps in nearly 40 countries across North America, Southeast Asia, and South America. It is currently the leading free social Android app in Thailand and Vietnam, according to market intelligence firm SensorTower.
Apps like Roblox and South Korea Zepeto have also made it easy for anyone to design virtual characters and spaces. BUD is taking the user experience a step further with plans to introduce a non-fungible token NFT marketplace. That means ownership of virtual items sold on BUD will be recorded on the blockchains. Resale of digital assets is likely to be possible in the form of NFT, the authenticity and provenance of which can be more easily verified.
BUD declined to reveal which chain the NFT project will be on or which tokens it will use, but said the market will be live soon.
While BUD makes 3D content creation possible for Gen Z mainstream consumers, we will continue to bring blockchain to mainstream consumers and enable our creators to truly own and monetize their creations, Lin said in a statement.
The company is expanding rapidly and has a team of 130 employees spread across its headquarters in Singapore, as well as its offices in Shenzhen and the US.