Patrick Comer, who sold his market research company Lucid for more than $1 billion last year, says it was an early love for Dungeons & Dragons that led him to his last investment in a New Orleans startup that marries fantasy role-playing with its latest obsession: blockchain technology.
Comer is part of a group of New Orleans investors who have been joined by national venture capital firms to invest $2.5 million in Gripnr. A New Orleans-based startup, Gripnr is creating a digital platform that will allow Dungeons & Dragons fans to use NFTs (non-fungible tokens) to store their game details on the blockchain.
Dungeons & Dragons, a strategy board game that has spawned an entire industry of tabletop and online fantasy role-playing games since its inception half a century ago, has an engaged following of gamers around the world.
Blockchains and NFTs are emerging technologies that enable computer networks to establish ownership and enable the exchange of assets online. The draw of the new platform, Comer explains, is that NFTs will allow game histories to be stored. NFTs could also potentially increase in value over time.
let the games begin
Gambling has been a focus of economic development agencies such as GNO Inc. and Louisiana Economic Development looking to attract tech companies to the area. The decision last year by Jeff Strain, a big name in video game development, to start his latest venture in New Orleans was seen as a milestone for the development of the industry.
“Gripnr is laying the groundwork…(and) will be a flagship” in the wave of blockchain game development as it facilitates the development of other games based on their platform, said Michael Hecht, CEO of GNO Inc.
The new venture is part of what Comer sees as an opportunity for New Orleans to be at the forefront of developing blockchain-based businesses, especially those based in entertainment and the creative arts.
Other Gripnr investors include musician and entrepreneur Brent McCrossen, who will serve as the company’s CEO. Kyle Mortensen, musician and advertising creative director will be Gripnr’s creative director. Stephen Radney-MacFarland, creator of the Dungeons & Dragons game and former developer of the Wizards of the Coast game, is also an investor.
Spring for “The Glimmering”
Gripnr plans to launch its first game, “The Glimmering”, and its first NFT collection in May.
“Gripnr was created to support gamers, game masters, artists and game designers who have created (tabletop role-playing games) over the past 50 years,” McCrossen said in a statement announcing the funding. . “We’re focused on building an active, respectful, and super awesome community of tabletop game fans and NFT collectors who want to join our vision of bringing (5th edition) gameplay to the blockchain,” it said. -he declares.
In addition to local angel investors, XBTO Humla Ventures, a leading Web3 venture capital fund, Sopris Capital, Voodoo Ventures, Better Angels, Abstraction Ventures and Interlock Managing Partner Carl Sparks have also invested in the 2 round. $.5 million for Gripnr.
Comer is also part of a new blockchain-focused initiative by former Idea Village CEO Tim Williamson called the Nieux Society. This is a members club that has taken over the former Société Eiffel building on Avenue Saint-Charles and will be officially launched in a few weeks with the sale of 504 founding memberships in the form of NFTs.
Williamson describes the concept of Nieux Society as a place where entrepreneurs, investors, artists, and musicians can meet to share ideas and find backers for blockchain-related projects like Gripnr.
“It is a physical space where people looking to connect with this new technology and be financially rewarded can meet, while reflecting on how the city can be a forward-looking part of its development” , Williamson said.
The Eiffel Society Building, located across from the Hotel Pontchartrain in the Lower Garden District, is a unique 12,500 square foot structure that was built in the 1980s from a deconstructed restaurant that was part of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Members include Comer and other tech entrepreneurs who have recently sold their businesses and are looking for new investment opportunities. Additionally, artists like Big Freedia and jazz funk band Galactic, who together created a launch song for Nieux Society, will be members, along with writer and historian Walter Isaacson.
Comer admits the new technology can be confusing to the uninitiated.
“We went through the same kind of digital transformation from 1995 to 2000, with a similar vibe, lots of money entering the space, and lots of confusion about what it all meant,” he said.
New Orleans didn’t see any real internet-based companies emerge from this wave until the mid-2000s. not get involved.”