Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are among the latest current and former NBA players to invest in Dapper Labs, the startup company behind the NFT trading-card platform NBA Top Shot.
The company announced a $305 million funding round on Tuesday as the digital collectibles market continues to boom.
Other investors in the latest round of funding include Ashton Kutcher's Sound Ventures, Will Smith's Dreamers VC, rapper 2 Chainz and The Chernin Group.
According to Business Insider, the latest batch of funding brings Dapper Labs' valuation to $2.6 billion.
"We want to bring the same magic to other sports leagues as well as help other entertainment studios and independent creators find their own approaches in exploring open platforms," Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou said in a statement.
NBA Top Shot was developed in partnership with the NBA and National Basketball Players Association, providing an online forum for trading virtual basketball cards in the form of video clips of their favorite players called "moments."
Less than five months into beta testing, the platform has more than 800,000 registered users. As of March 17, more than $370 million had exchanged hands between users on the marketplace with millions more believed to be spent on packs.
Mike McCoy, an adjunct professor of emerging technology at Thomas Jefferson University, told Sports Illustrated that the shock skeptics experience when a Top Shot moment sells for six figures stems from a newness in the NFT's market.
“Ten thousand dollars used to buy a used car—that makes sense to us because we've seen it being bought over time by hundreds of millions of people,” McCoy said. “We haven't had as many examples of people paying for digital collectibles and digital cards or digital representations of physical things. And so the value of that really is just in the eyes of people who are on digital platforms.”
Other NBA players, including Andre Iguodala, Spencer Dinwiddie, Aaron Gordon, JaVale McGee and Garrett Temple, have also previously invested in the project.
“It’s all about the growth and interactions between fans and players,” Iguodala told The Wall Street Journal. “I had a lot of trading cards as a kid, but I don’t personally remember professional athletes being involved in the process.”