Funding Wrap: Crypto startup accelerators are growing in number

Plus, Web3 gaming saw a slew of investments and an AI agent platform announced a round

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Amidst a revival of interest in crypto ventures, some Web3 startups are hoping to gain a leg up via accelerator programs.

Startup accelerators provide founders with mentorship and guidance in exchange for early equity in their company. Perhaps the most famous example is San Francisco-based Y Combinator, which counts numerous crypto firms — including Coinbase and OpenSea — as alumni. 

Read more: Funding Wrap: Y Combinator wants more stablecoin startups

The blue-chip tech VC fund a16z announced the cohort chosen for its spring 2024 crypto startup accelerator this week. The group of 25 startups will spend ten weeks in London being mentored by the a16z crypto team. Among the list posted by a16z operating partner Jason Rosenthal were projects for Farcaster infrastructure, decentralized food delivery and zero-knowledge passport authentication. 

Startups in a16z crypto’s accelerator each get a $500,000 investment from a16z in exchange for 7% equity. Alumni of the program include research and development organization Flashbots and wallet platform Phantom.

Read more: A16z injects $100M into EigenLayer

Also this week, the foundation behind the layer-1 blockchain Avalanche announced the inaugural cohort in its own accelerator, called Codebase. The accelerator is only for startups building on Avalanche, and an AVAX-focused decentralized VC named Colony Lab will be investing between $500,000 and $1 million per startup. 

Web3 gaming infrastructure firm Helika announced it would be teaming up with Pantera, Spartan Capital, Sfermion and other VC firms to funnel up to $50 million to startups in its newly-launched gaming accelerator. 

All this comes as venture capital shows a renewed vigor in the crypto space. Crypto-native firm 1kx announced it had raised an oversubscribed $75 million fund on Thursday. Hack VC closed a $150 million round late last month.

Symbolic Capital principal Sam Lehman said strong crypto accelerators can build community for founders in the very network-centric Web3 space. 

Lehman added that the proliferation of new crypto accelerators could be partly from funds wanting to grow their brand or to quickly deploy capital into startups. And some accelerators can be predatory.

“Some accelerators are using the early stage at which they invest plus their proposed ‘value-add’ to come in and take extremely big positions in companies right off the bat. Founders should definitely think twice about whether the terms they’d accept from an accelerator are worth what they’d receive in return,” Lehman said in a text.

Web3 gaming stays hot

Investment rounds in Web3 gaming have quietly grown in size and number in recent months. The latest example is Parallel Studios, which just announced a $35 million round that drew investment from VanEck, Solana Ventures and The Spartan Group, among others. 

Read more: Immutable and Polygon Labs launch Inevitable Games Fund with hopes of raising $100M

Parallel Studios developed the buzzy NFT-enabled card game Parallel, which just recently opened to the public in beta. It’s also building an AI-enabled strategy game called Colony. 

Gunzilla Games, MyPrize, Elixir Games, and Illuvium are all gaming projects that raised funds in excess of $10 million this week.

Other notable fundraises

  • AI agent creation platform MyShell raised $11 million in pre-Series A funding led by Dragonfly.
  • DePIN-focused blockchain project peaq drew $15 million in a round led by Borderless Capital and Generative Ventures.
  • Data availability startup 0G Labs raised $35 million.
  • Polychain led a $15.3 million investment in intent-centric execution network dappOS in a round valuing the startup at $300 million.

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