Yes, Investors Just Gave $12 Million to a Virtual Kitten-Breeding Game

CryptoKitties — the Ethereum-powered virtual game in which users spend crypto to collect digital pet cats — has raised more than $12 million in seed capital.

Like Angry Birds was for smartphone apps, the makers of the game are hoping for a breakout success to makes using cryptocurrency a mainstream activity for millions.

The Vancouver-based developers of the game fielded the largest offers from venture capitalist companies A16Z, headed by Andreessen Horowitz, and Union Square Ventures.

Axiom Zen, the former parent of the game developer, announced via press release that the developers will keep at least 20 employees on staff.

Axiom Zen said that the former subsidiary would strive to “make blockchain technology accessible and relevant to everyday consumers” and show potential customers that “digital collectibles can act as a constellation for identity and self-expression.”

The $12 million in venture capital funding would be earmarked to “dramatically expand” the CryptoKitties development team and creative vision, Axiom Zen said, and “figure out how to scale the blockchain to a billion consumers.”

CryptoKitties is an Ethereum-only blockchain-based game. Users buy, collect and breed digital cats.

The relative value of a CryptoKitties kitty depends on the “genetic” characteristics and overall rarity of the digital kitten to be bartered.

The basic aim of the game is to breed and develop kittens with characteristics desirable to other traders.

Each CryptoKitty has an intrinsic genetic DNA code that is guaranteed by Ethereum “smart contracts.”

CryptoKitties thus are born with a trackable serial number and distinct 256-bit genome. These genome traits can never be destroyed, taken, replicated or duplicated.

Bigger than crypto

Every possible variation of all potential and future CryptoKitty has already been designed.

Due to the 256-bit genome code traits of each digital kitty there can only be about 4 billion variations of CryptoKitties.

A new digital kitty is “born” every 15 minutes on the game platform.

The genetics, characteristics, marketplace transactions and current ownership rights are then all maintained by the smart contracts.

Players can buy a CryptoKitty with Ether digital currency only.

At the time of this writing, one Ether, which is the cryptocurrency powered by the Ethereum network, is worth about $524.

The game’s developers are hopeful that CryptoKitties will successfully expand in the future.

“We think crypto-gaming and crypto collectibles can be bigger than cryptocurrency,” said the company.

Additional CryptoKitties angel investors include Caterina Fake, the co-founder of Flickr; William Mougayar, the founder of Token Summit; Fred Ehrsam, the co-founder of Coinbase; Mark Pincus, the founder of Zynga; Naval Ravikant, the founder of AngelList; Hex Capital, CAA Ventures, Version One, Rising Tide Fund and Digital Currency Group, among others.