Unstoppable Domains Reaches Unicorn Valuation With $65M Series A Round – Decrypt

In brief

  • Web3 startup Unstoppable Domains has raised $65 million at a $1 billion valuation.
  • The firm sells NFT-based domains that can be assigned to crypto wallets and websites, and is building Web3 identity and reputation solutions.

Unstoppable Domains, a Web3 service that provides NFT-based domain names for crypto wallets and websites, today announced that it’s reached a “unicorn” valuation of $1 billion after a $65 million Series A funding round.

The raise was led by new investor Pantera Capital and includes funding from Mayfield, Alchemy Ventures, Redbeard Ventures, Polygon, CoinGecko, OKG Investments, and others. Previous backers Draper Associates and Boost VC also took part.

Matthew Gould, founder and CEO of Unstoppable Domains, told Decrypt that “everyone’s excited” at the firm about reaching unicorn status, and that it built through the so-called crypto winter in 2018 and 2019 to eventually reach this point. But he also told his team that bringing in this kind of investment is a serious matter.

“When you take on funding, you take on a lot of responsibility,” he said. “You have one day to celebrate and take the victory lap, and have a glass of champagne—and then the next day, you get right back to work.”

Unstoppable Domains previously raised $6.9 million in VC funding across multiple rounds, including what was billed as a Series A in 2019. However, Gould told Decrypt that all earlier investment is now considered part of its seed funding, and he chalked up previous labeling to being a small startup without a PR team at the time.

Gould said that Unstoppable Domains has registered more than 2.5 million crypto domain names to date, including with extensions such as .crypto, .bitcoin, .nft, .blockchain, and .dao. Registration starts at $5 per domain and can range into the hundreds of dollars—the firm claims to have generated more than $80 million in sales so far.

Each Unstoppable Domain takes the form of an NFT asset that’s minted on Polygon, an Ethereum scaling platform that enables faster, cheaper, and more energy-efficient transactions.

An NFT is a blockchain token that conveys ownership for an item—in this case, a Web3 domain name. Once minted, the NFT remains in the user’s custody in a crypto wallet, and there are no renewal fees or ongoing upkeep charges to maintain ownership of the Unstoppable Domain. Users also do not pay the gas fees for minting a domain on Polygon.

That last detail is a big differentiator from the Ethereum Name Service (ENS), a decentralized service that sells NFT-based .eth names that can be tied to Ethereum wallets. ENS requires users to pay for a chosen number of years of service upon minting and then renew the name to maintain service, plus pay Ethereum network gas fees.

Gould doesn’t see ENS or other such services (like the Solana Naming Service) as rivals, in a sense, because they’re all working to improve crypto accessibility and advance the concept of digital ownership. “We’re supportive of anything that is helping to get to a world where people own their digital identity and own their digital property online,” he said.

Unstoppable Domains has amassed a wide array of partners that support its domains, including exchanges (like Coinbase and Blockchain.com), crypto wallets (Rainbow), web browsers (Brave), and more—over 300 in total.

It also has growing aims in decentralized identity, launching a Login With Unstoppable feature in January. Gould anticipates an enormous potential audience ahead for crypto identity ownership.

“If we are correct, in that every person on the planet is going to own crypto, that means that we’re going to have billions of registered NFT domains,” he said, “just for the simple use case of people sending back cryptocurrency, one to another.”

Beyond allowing users to control their respective digital identities with a crypto wallet and NFT domain, Gould said that it has serious implications for online reputation, with the ability to track negative behavior (such as propagating scams) from users across various platforms.

“There’s a big disconnect between the way that we interact in the real world and the way that we interact online,” he said. “The way that we interact online is usually not as nice as the way that we interact in the real world, and that’s because you just aren’t able to bring your full self with you online.”

Gould cited an example of his father being scammed when trying to buy football tickets online, and said that the scammer could easily hop to another centralized, siloed ecommerce platform and continue such schemes. With an NFT-based online reputation system, however, he believes that there’s potential for such actions to be tracked across platforms.

“We think that’s actually going to elevate the digital conversations that we have in our digital spaces to be more like the real world,” said Gould. “The long-term vision for Unstoppable Domains—and I think for anyone building NFT domains or blockchain-based naming systems—is really around establishing online, digital reputation.”

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