• TCG Capital Management leads $20 million Series A for virtual horse racing platform
  • It is the second investment into an NFT platform Andreessen Horowitz has revealed this week

Virtually Human Studio, the Australia-based startup behind online horse racing platform Zed Run, has raised $20 million in a Series A round led by The Chernin Group Capital Management. Andreessen Horowitz and Red Beard Ventures also participated in the round. 

VHS is the latest company profiting from the growing gaming and non-fungible token (NFT) industries. Zed Run is a marketplace and gaming program for what creators refer to as “breathing NFTs,” or NFTs that change and evolve over time, similar to real-life animals. 

Zed Run users can virtually breed, sell and buy horses. Virtual horse owners can pay entrance fees to compete in races, and the site collects fees for all of the above. Race participants that come in first, second or third receive prize money in the form of ETH. 

It’s a concept that may sound absurd to anyone unfamiliar with the gaming and NFT industries, but the demand is there. 

“What the team at Virtually Human Studio is building fundamentally alters what it means to be a fan,” said Jacob Smilovitz, vice president at TCG, in a statement. “Fans are now empowered to come down from the bleachers, become owners themselves and play an active role in determining the outcome of the game.”

When launched in 2019, horses on Zed Run sold for around $30, but the explosion of the NFT market has proven to be fruitful for the company.

At time of publication, the Zed Run marketplace was completely sold out, but secondary markets abound. One has a horse available for 1.3 ETH, or around $2,550 USD. 

It is the second NFT investment a16z has revealed this week. On Tuesday, the firm led a $100 million Series B funding round in NFT marketplace OpenSea

The funding rounds come amid a major moment for NFTs across industries. Galaxy Digital founder and CEO Mike Novogratz and digital media entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck are part of the team behind Candy, a new sports NFT marketplace with a focus on baseball. Binance recently made its NFT marketplace debut with an auction featuring works from Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali. 

Zed Run is VHS’s first major project with more than 125,000 connected users. VHS closed its first seed funding round in May 2020, according to the company. 

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    Casey Wagner is a New York-based business journalist covering digital assets and macro economics. Prior to joining Blockworks, she reported on markets at Bloomberg News. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Media Studies.