NBA Top Shot creator Dapper Labs gets $250M in funding

The company, which has a partnership with the NBA and the NBA Player's Association is poised to become even bigger.

NBA Top Shot, the blockchain platform that provides digital NFT trading cards in the form of NBA and WNBA highlights known as “moments,” has received an additional $250 million of funding from both new and existing investors. The platform is owned by Dapper Labs, a company focused on providing blockchain experiences for the masses. Today’s announcement arrives on the cusp of the upcoming 2021-2022 NBA season and suggests a level of optimism that the NFT-trading service will continue to see explosive levels of growth.

Moments are officially licensed digital collectibles or NFTs that feature a short video clip displaying an individual player executing something in-game. These clips can range from something as innocuous as completing a lay-up during a regular season game in December to one of the most exciting plays that takes place throughout the year. Acquiring one of them basically gives the consumer a piece of digital memorabilia that can be held onto or re-sold down the line.

This round of funding was the second time this year that Dapper Labs has raised money for its NBA-related venture and was spearheaded by Coatue Management, an investment management company ran by Philippe Laffont. Earlier in March Dapper Labs raised $305 million, following a period of massive hype where the company had witnessed the sale of a LeBron James dunk for $71,456.

“This round, for me, was much more about bringing the right partners around the table for our next leg of growth... Earlier this year, we proved the concept for NFTs and I think we’ve seen the industry as a whole exploding — and we’ve got the platform that can power thousands of times more activity than we see today,” said Roham Gharegozlou, the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer, in an interview.

Will the craze last? — Probably. Not only are investment firms getting into the mix but a lot of players themselves have invested in the project and go out of their way to promote it. Combine that with the interest in the NFT space more widely and it would be hard to imagine that Top Shot suddenly finds itself floundering.

However, it is worth noting that the platform’s sales have dipped precipitously since the craze took over late last year. A New York Times piece reported that sales in April were $82 million, compared to $208 million in March and $224 million in February.

Regardless, I still can’t wrap my head around the product, considering you can access any and all of these highlights for free through YouTube, Twitter, or any other social platform where people talk about basketball, i.e. all of them. NFTs from Top Shot then function more like speculative assets first and memorabilia second. But perhaps there’s a future where I’m kicking rocks because I missed out on the opportunity to pay my future child’s college tuition with a carefully selected Top Shot.