Dapper Labs, company behind NBA Top Shot, raises $305 million while being valued at $2.6 billion

Chris Bumbaca
USA TODAY

The company behind NBA Top Shot has announced a $305 million funding round that features several high-profile investors led by Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant. 

Dapper Labs, which constructed the Flow blockchain for Top Shot non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the subsequent marketplace, said the money will allow the company to expand, bringing more sports, gaming and entertainment experiences to Flow and the NFT market. 

Investment firm Coatue led the funding. 

"NBA Top Shot is one of the best demonstrations we’ve seen of how quickly new technology can change the landscape for media and sports fans,” Durant, who is involved through his company Thirty Five Ventures, said in a release. "We're excited to follow the progress with everything happening on Flow blockchain and use our platform with the Boardroom to connect with fans in a new way."

Additionally, the latest funding round upped Dapper Labs' valuation to $2.6 billion, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because the financial details are not public. 

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“NFTs are the first time anyone can create unique digital items that can be portable across different products anywhere the customer wants –– simple but game-changing,” Dieter Shirely, chief technology officer of Dapper Labs, said in a release. “NFTs let people have real ownership in games and digital worlds for the first time. Developers can also easily build products that let customers access their NFTs and identities from different products, meaning less lock-in on customers. On a blockchain like Flow, NFTs can rewire the internet for the better.” 

Nearly six months since launching its open beta, NBA Top Shot has done nearly $500 million in sales with more than 800,000 accounts — 338,000 of which currently hold a NFT. (Dapper Labs has an undisclosed revenue-sharing model with the league and NBA Players' Association.)

Top Shot's initial success has sprouted confidence in the Flow blockchain, and the scalability is appealing to sports and leagues aside from basketball and the NBA. 

"We want to bring the same magic to other sports leagues as well as help other entertainment studios and independent creators find their own approaches in exploring open platforms," Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou said in a statement. "NFTs unlock a new model for monetization that benefits the fans much more than advertising or sponsorships." 

Who invested in NBA Top Shot? 

In addition to Jordan and Durant, several other notable (and current) NBA names are attached to this round of funding, including: Andre Iguodala, Kyle Lowry, Spencer Dinwiddie, Andre Drummond, Alex Caruso, Michael Carter-Williams, Josh Hart, Udonis Haslem, JaVale McGee, Khris Middleton, Domantas Sabonis, Klay Thompson, Nikola Vucevic

NBA players aren't the only individuals attached to pro sports or the entertainment industry that were involved. 

MLB: Nolan Arenado, Tim Beckham 

NFL: Thomas Davis, Stefon Diggs, Dee Ford, Malcom Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Jordan Matthew, Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty, DK Metcalf, Tyrod Taylor, and Trent Williams

Other companies: 93 Ventures (Richard Seymour), Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary's Sound Ventures, Dreamers VC (Will Smith and Keisuke Honda), AG Ventures (Shawn Mendes and Andrew Gertler)

Plus: rapper 2 Chainz.

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.