ZED RUN and the $20 Million Question

Virtually Human Studios (VHS), the creators of Zed Run, have announced a $20 million infusion of Series A funding from venture capitalists The Chernin Group (TCG) and Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and "angel investor" Red Beard Ventures (RBV). The announcement and subsequent publications surrounding this investment point to an increased effort by VHS for transparency, communication, mainstream awareness and growth (maybe even hypergrowth). Before we get to addressing the question of what $20 million dollars means for Zed Run, a little background about the investors.

TCG was founded in 2010 by former FOX executive Peter Chernin. Prior to launching his own company, Chernin headed both Twentieth Century Fox Filmed Entertainment and the Fox Broadcasting Company, a career spanning over 20 years. TCG assets include Chernin Entertainment, a majority stake in CA media, along with investments in: Pandora, Fullscreen, Tumblr, Barstool Sports and Flipboard.  

Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) is a venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. A16z Crypto specializes in investing in, obviously, the crypto space. They hold a long term investment outlook ie 10+ years, carry "all weather funds" meaning they invest at all times into the crypto space, even during downturns and they provide a large customer service support system to their investees.

The Red Beard Ventures team has been helping build, invest in and advise start ups for over 15 years. The vision and mission of the company are stated best in their own words:   "Our existing portfolio already reflects much of this strategy, and is representative of the types of founders that we want to back: those building the future that we actually want to live inAs much of the venture ecosystem chases after high margin SaaS, we want to chase after innovations that represent leaps into the future - after all, that is not only the most exciting opportunity to invest in, but also the only way in which venture capitalists can generate the returns necessary to succeed." Drew Austin is not only Managing Partner of RBV but is also one of the co-owners of "Millions" the recently purchased #3 Mint Z1 Nakamoto Filly. Co ownership of that asset, and actually many more in ZED RUN, is held with Entrepreneur and fellow RBV Team Member Alex Taub. Not only do these VC invest in companies they believe in, they also buy their assets.

All this background information is well and good but what does it mean for VHS and ergo ZED RUN? These venture capitalists are visionary and they seek companies that take brand loyalty and turn it into consumer action. In other words, they don't want to just sell you a horse. They want you so immersed in a brand that you not just buy a horse but you get involved in every single aspect of the "experience". You tell your friends, you tweet about it, you buy or make merch involving it....YOU drive the brand! You ARE Zed Run!

ZED RUN is a pioneer in the NFT space, giving "living, breathing" utility to that NFT.  Several quotes from the recently released Zed Run announcement are pertinent in identifying the vision and future of ZED RUN and why we will see more outside investors in VHS.

Chris Laurent (CEO VHS) - "Our vision for the future is to build a creator economy within the ZED RUN metaverse where players can work in professions such as stable owner, race track owner, breeder, accessory designer and more.” 

Jacob Smilovitz (VP at TCG) - “VHS is building the future of virtual entertainment, digital ownership and collaborative consumer relationships, and we look forward to supporting them as they develop new experiences across a variety of verticals.”

Arianna Simpson (GP at a16z crypto) - “Gaming has the potential to bring billions of people into crypto for the first time which is why it’s such an important and innovative category in the space,” also “VHS has been at the forefront of this trend thanks to the team’s sharp instincts about what consumers crave from digital entertainment and has built solid foundations for a community-led market. We are excited to see VHS scale up and break new ground.”

VHS will be able to make massive moves with funding received, including:

  • expand it's product & engineering teams (which we know is much needed with the rapid growth seen in the last 2 quarters). Running 2 races at a time is on the roadmap for VHS and once that is successfully executed we can scale up to hopefully multiple races running at a time. With the growth experienced since breeding such scaling is an urgent necessity.
  • further build out it's business and operations staff to "develop deeper partner integrations"...leading me to believe our partnerships will move beyond "skins and tracks" into much deeper relationships ie future releases with Atari perhaps that are much more integrative and interactive.

ZED RUN is poised for rapid expansion and growth. The issue, as for most start ups, is scalability. This infusion of funding will help those at VHS meet unprecedented demand and address unforeseen issues that arise in this new frontier (the Metaverse) in a more rapid manner. Being in the crypto space, and ZED RUN in particular, requires a certain amount of vision, risk taking and even entrepreneurship. The recurring number of partnerships and investment are all good signs for those that hold assets in ZED. Like any investment we must weather the good with the bad and remember why we are here in the first place!

I personally delved in much deeper regarding the investors spoken about in this blog and encourage everyone else to do so as well. They all come with more knowledge and experience than I could ever put in a short blog post! See you on the track my fellow ZEDHeads!

For more information regarding this new funding and the venture capitalists themselves, please also see the following: 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/tcg-and-andreessen-horowitz-invest-in-startup-behind-virtual-horse-racing-platform-11626865200

https://community.zed.run/2021/07/21/off-to-the-races-virtually-human-studio-secures-20m-usd-series-a-round-from-tcg-and-andreesen-horowitz/

https://angel.co/red-beard-ventures-drew-austin/syndicate

https://a16z.com/crypto/

https://tcg.co/

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