Davos 2023: Hong Kong's Animoca Brands to double down on investments amid crypto winter

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Hong Kong-based blockchain gaming developer Animoca Brands is aiming to grow its portfolio of companies by more than 30% by the end of this year as it doubles down on investments in a crypto winter, its co-founder Yat Siu said.

While the reputation of the crypto industry has been sullied by a number of scandals over the past year, from the collapse of the FTX exchange to the bankruptcy of several crypto lenders and hedge funds, other areas of the market such as blockchain and trading of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) were seeing significant amounts of activity, he said.

“We are actually kind of double downing in terms of investing, not just because deals are perhaps better, valuations have come down and also companies are more realistic,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos.

“It’s entirely possible that we will exceed 500-600 companies, I hope to get to 500, 500-plus by the end of the year,” he said.

Animoca is currently invested in more than 380 companies including Axie Infinity and OpenSea to build its vision of a “metaverse” based around blockchain technology, in which users can buy and trade digital assets in the form of NFTs.

He said he also hopes to strengthen Animoca’s business in places such as the Middle East region, Japan and South Korea. The company is in the process of raising a $1 billion fund to invest in metaverse and blockchain firms and aims to close it by the first quarter, he added.

Cryptocurrencies and NFTs surged in 2021 as speculators piled into digital assets and the metaverse became a tech buzzword. But sentiment crashed recent months as investors grew more risk-adverse amid high-profile bankruptcies and falling cryptocurrency prices.

Animoca in September said it had raised $110 million from investors, including Singapore-based Temasek, global venture capital firm GGV Capital and China-focused asset manager Boyu Capital. (Reporting by Brenda Goh, Editing by Louise Heavens)