Pudgy Penguindeer Ethereum The NFT project that soared amid the 2021 bull run and then collapsed, was bought by a serial entrepreneur about a year ago and given a second life—when the market collapsed. But the cartoon birds persevered, and now the team is raising funds as its ambitions grow.
Today, Pudgy Penguins announced that it has raised $9 million in seed funding in a round led by early-stage investment firm 1kx, with participation from Big Brain Holdings, Kronos Research, Old Fashion Research, CRIT Ventures, and the founders of LayerZero Labs, per release.
The project was launched in July 2021, as NFT The market began to put billions of dollars worth of trading volume every month, and the rise of Pudgy Penguins pushed in part through a viral story of The New York Times.
But the initial buzz didn’t last, and in early 2022, the the community is in turmoil amid controversy over a co-founder past actions on Web3 and plans of some NFT holders to split by “wrapping” their Penguins as another token. Pudgy prices fell sharply amid the drama.
Luca Netz, a serial entrepreneur, bought the project IP from the founders in April 2022 for $2.5 million, and told Decrypt that Pudgy Penguins doesn’t have the millions of dollars worth of funding that some NFT projects and startups have. banked during the bull run.
“When we bought it, we had no money in the bank,” he said. “And we know that.”
Netz said Pudgy Penguins “needs a real operator” to steer the ship. Soon, however, the total number of NFT sales decreased amid a crypto market crash, which generated fewer creator royalties from secondary market sales and reduces the wider space impulse. His team had to work “very hard” to develop the project amid the circumstances.
Many NFT projects have lost significant amounts in the past year. the Bored Ape Yacht Clubfor example, fell from a maximum starting price of about $429,000 (152 ETH) in late April 2022 to the current price of $82,600 (45 ETH). But Pudgy Penguins bucked that trend, rising from $4,365 (1.55 ETH) to $8,170 (4.44 ETH) in the same span.
Amidst market growth, Pudgy Penguins launched physical toy projects and other merchandise and established an advisory board with leaders from Meta and Hasbro. The project just said it was signed by major Hollywood talent agency WME to continue media projects and beyond, and it has created about $250 million worth in total trading volume to date.
And while these moves put Pudgy Penguins in the mainstream plans, the project also increased its cachet among NFT die-hards, no doubt helped in part by being one of the rare ones. profile picture (PFP) projects that actually gain value amid the broader freefall.
We are proud to announce that @WME will represent us as our official talent agency.
Together, with WME’s relationships in film, TV, and gaming, we will focus on strategic partnerships that will help Pudgy Penguins reach new audiences. pic.twitter.com/TtbkLexxAV
— Pudgy Penguin (@pudgypenguins) May 5, 2023
From his vantage point, Netz said he understands what users want from the project. The first NFT he bought was a Pudgy Penguin, and he said Decrypt that he went on to sell millions of dollars worth of NFTs after that.
Netz later bought Pudgy IP thinking it had all the pieces to drive a Web3 community and major extensions from products to entertainment media. It’s family-friendly and inclusive, he says, with a warm community of NFT holders behind it.
Many NFT projects talk about creating great IP—for Netz, achieving that goal will mean making sure Pudgy Penguins has a wide “influence.” Pudgy Penguins has garnered over 3 billion views of its official GIFs and tens of millions of views on Instagram, and now seed funding and an apparent deal with WME could help it reach a much larger audience.
“I look at Pudgy Penguin like an influencer,” Netz said. “This attitude is more about the ability to get where we want to be.”