OP3N raises $28M to build ‘WhatsApp meets Amazon’ for web3

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OP3N, a web3 AI-powered platform, raised a $28 million Series A round that values the company at $100 million, the startup shared exclusively with TechCrunch.

“I wanted to make a connection for creators, chats and commerce in one place,” Jaeson Ma, co-CEO of OP3N, said to TechCrunch. “It’s a web3 version of WhatsApp meets Amazon, or WeChat meets Alibaba.”

OP3N’s chat-based product, Superapp, aims to bridge the gap between Web 2.0 and web3 through implementing blockchain and decentralized technologies into Web 2.0-friendly interfaces. The application will have the ability to add audio, video and mixed media content to on-chain interactions so users can have a “one-stop” experience.

The platform was born out of a need for a user experience and interface similar to Web 2.0 platforms, but powered by web3 technologies, Ma said.

The platform allows artists and creators to offer fans new ways to engage through NFT-gated experiences that fans can buy at different price points, Ma shared. Customers can sign up through email and the platform will create a crypto wallet for users, he added.

The funding round was led by Animoca Brands and included investments from Dragonfly Capital, SuperScrypt, Creative Artists Agency and New Enterprise Associates’ Connect Ventures, Republic Crypto, Avalanche’s Blizzard Fund, Galaxy Digital and Warner Music Interactive. Additional investors include GSR Markets, The Spartan Group, BRV Capital Management and NBA player Russell Westbrook, among others

“These are all long-term players and people who are here to stay and bring strategic synergy for us,” Ma said of the investors. “We’re here to build a product that I believe will hopefully in two years become the decentralized Facebook, YouTube, Spotify or WhatsApp for web3.”

In 2021, OP3N closed its $10 million seed round from investors like Goodwater Capital, Soma Capital, 500 Global, WhaleShark, Twitch co-founder Justin Kan and The Sandbox co-founder and COO Sébastien Borget, to name a few.

The fresh capital will be used to further develop its application as well as grow its leadership team, Ma shared. The product is currently in beta mode and has been testing with different communities, he added.

“Through our learnings in version one, we realized when we did [an NFT] drop, fans didn’t know the difference between AVAX, Solana, Polygon or whatever cryptocurrency it was,” Ma said. Just that one experience caused so much friction and fallout.”

So going forward, Ma realized OP3N has to bridge the traditional market into web3 in a way that’s more understandable. “It’s not going to happen overnight that a billion people will know how to download a wallet and use it, so we are solving for that.”