Other investors participating in the round included Zynga founder Mark Pincus, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, and VC firms Galaxy Interactive and In/Visible Ventures. According to Cent CEO Cameron Hejazi, the company will use the funds to expand its non-fungible token (NFT) platform to support an ecosystem of new apps for creators.
Cent is the company behind Valuables, the NFT marketplace launched in December 2020 that sold Jack Dorsey’s original tweet (“just setting up my twttr”) for $2.9 million. NFTs certify the ownership of a piece of digital content using blockchain technology.
But beyond facilitating the buying and selling of digital assets, Cent believes it can empower creators by connecting apps and services that creators rely on directly into the NFT ecosystem. “NFTs give people ownership of their data. The next generation of apps will harness this potential for the good of their users,” Hejazi said.
Cent co-founder and strategy chief Katie Geminder, who was head of product at Facebook early on, knew Pincus from her time working at Zynga. Pincus connected the Cent team with Katzenberg and Hoffman. “She’s like our supernode,” Hejazi said.
Cent takes a 5% cut of NFT sales that go through its marketplace and 2.5% of secondary sales. It uses Ethereum cryptocurrency for payments but is looking to add the ability to pay in U.S. dollars. Cent’s NFTs are hosted in Polygon, a framework for building and connecting Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks.
Hejazi sees an opportunity for Cent to provide a way for creators on platforms like Instagram, TikTok or Spotify to use NFTs to take ownership of their digital content and data. For example, TikTok creators could turn their videos into NFT collectibles “so when there’s a transaction you can track it,” he said. Hejazi acknowledged that social platforms are experimenting with NFTs that could compete with Cent’s offerings: “At the end of the day, it’s all about choice [for creators],” he said.
Rick Johanson, co-founder of In/Visible Ventures, commented, “Creators play a critical role in the future of the economy. Cent is giving artists and content creators better control over their work and pathways to income.”
Prior to Cent, Hejazi founded Cred, a startup focused on monetizing link sharing. Before that, he worked as a software engineer at tech and advertising company Say Media and job-listing site Indeed.com.
(Pictured above: Cent CEO Cameron Hejazi)