Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant backed Dapper Labs Valued At $2.6 billion

Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant are among those betting that the company behind NBA Top Shot is poised to build on the craze over digital collectibles.

Dapper Labs Inc. said Tuesday it raised $305 million from investors including the NBA legends and other athletes and celebrities such as Stefon Diggs, Ashton Kutcher, Shawn Mendes and Will Smith. The deal, led by Coatue Management LLC, values the company at $2.6 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. NBA Top Shot is a site where basketball fans can own a digital copy of a video highlight such as a dunk or game-winning shot.

The virtual cards come in the form of a floating digital cube that includes a video highlight of an NBA player and come with a nonfungible token (NFT), backed by blockchain technology, certifying its authenticity and scarcity. A LeBron James Top Shot in which the Los Angeles Lakers star dunked over Nemanja Bjelica sold for $208,000 last month.  The AP noted NBA Top Shot has racked up $500 million in sales with over 800,000 registered users over the past five months.

The sums reflect the exploding interest in nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, which use the blockchain technology behind cryptocurrencies to authenticate unique digital assets such as art, music or video of basketball highlights. The market for NFTs grew to at least $338 million in 2020, according to a report from NonFungible.com and research firm L’Atelier, from around $41 million in 2018.