Updated 23rd July 2021 with excerpt from Wall Street Journal.
Sarah Fischer reporting for AXIOS writes:
Virtually Human Studio (VHS), a platform used to virtually race horses using NFTs, has raised a $20 million Series A round from The Chernin Group, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz and Red Beard Ventures.
Why it matters: The company’s virtual horse racing platform, called “ZED RUN,” has created a new model for horse racing that enables participants to not only bet on their horses 24/7, but also own the horses as NFTs (non-fungible tokens), or put more simply — digital assets.
- “What the team at Virtually Human Studio is building fundamentally alters what it means to be a fan,” said Jacob Smilovitz, vice president at TCG, in a statement. “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.”
How it works: The platform, which runs on blockchain technology, allows horse racing fans to engage more deeply in the horse-racing process, from breeding their own virtual horses to selling or betting on them.
- The horses themselves are considered “breathable” NFTs, which carry a set of attributes that allow them to change over time.
- The attributes include fatigue and race track preference, as well as genetic profiles like bloodline and breed that help determine how well the virtual horses race and breed.
- Real money is spent with virtual racing. Like regular NFTs, there’s a limited supply of ZED RUN Genesis racehorses ranging from $130 to $45,000. Horses have traded for over $125,000 on the secondary market. Whole stables can sell for over $250,000.
- ZED RUN itself doesn’t take bets but users can make money by breeding and racing their own horses. VHS takes a fee from breeding and race revenue.
Details: VHS is incorporated in Australia, but has 50 employees that work remotely around the globe. The company was founded by Chris Laurent and Rob Salha in 2019. ZED RUN is VHS’ first big platform product. To date, the company has more than 125,000 connected users with 14,000+ unique stable owners.
This is the future of horse racing. When ZED Run overtakes racing with flesh and blood horses, all of the horror, doping and death that goes with it will be buried forever.
Watch it in action (scroll down the home page just a little bit to watch live streaming) »
23rd July 2021 Update
Launched in 2019, Zed Run enables users to buy, sell and breed virtual horses and race them in a videogame style setting against other horses. The horses are purchased with digital currency and act as NFTs, which are essentially digital collectibles that hold value.
Zed Run takes a fee from the money users pay to virtually breed horses on the site, as well as from race entry fees and the sale of these NFTs. Individual virtual horse owners stand to make money when the value of their horses rises, attracting higher prices on Zed Run’s horse breeding market and on the horse resale market. Every race also pays prizes for first through third place finishes in Ethereum, a cryptocurrency.
The price of Zed’s digital racehorses range from $130 to $45,000. Whole stables, which include multiple horses, have sold for over $250,000 and owners can resell horses, the company said.
Read full article at “TCG and Andreessen Horowitz Invest in Startup Behind Virtual Horse Racing Platform,” Wall Street Journal, 21st July 2021