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Racehorses selling for six figures, Sydney startup gets $27m in funding as crypto-powered gaming takes off

Zed.Run racehorses selling for six figures, Sydney startup gets $27m in funding as crypto-powered gaming takes off

July 22, 2021 July 22, 2021 | Derek Rose

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Zed.Run – a Sydney-founded crypto platform that involves racing, training and breeding virtual racehorses – has become a real-life hit.

Set in a dystopian planet a few decades in the future, Virtually Human Studio’s Zed.Run features horses in neon harnesses that exist as tradeable nonfungible tokens (NFTs) on Polygon, the Ethereum sidechain, and compete against one another in virtual races.

It’s one of several in a new genre of games that customers actually play to earn. Others include Sky Mavis’ Axie Infinity and The Sandbox, F1 Delta Time and Crazy Defense Heroes, created by former ASX-listed company and tech unicorn Animoca Brands.

Virtually Human Studio last night announced it had raised US$20 million (A$27 million) in a Series A funding round led by TCG Capital Management, with Andreessen Horowitz and Red Beard Ventures also participating.

“What the team at Virtually Human Studio is building fundamentally alters what it means to be a fan. 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,” said TCG vice president Jacob Smilovitz was quoted as saying in the announcement.

Dear friends, it’s official! Announcing our $20M+ USD Series A round, led by TCG, a16z and Red Beard, to accelerate our leading platform development in the NFT space.

Here’s to building the future of virtual entertainment!

— Virtually Human Studio (@V_H_Studio) July 21, 2021

Virtually Human Studio began this busy week by filming a television commercial for Zed.Run in the Sydney suburb of Alexandria that is set to air on platforms such as Twitch and TikTok, as well as possibly on traditional television in the United States.

The startup partnered with virtual reality production company Spectre Studios for the TV commercial, which was designed and filmed in Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, the 3D creation platform.

Performers Tyra Cartledge and Kendall Drury play Zed.Run for a commercial filmed at Technical Direction Company in Sydney this week. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

The company now has 50 staffers working remotely from every time zone around the world, up from 20 employees at the start of the year.

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