There are quite a few Israeli startups that raise money from a variety of interesting funds from around the world, but it is rare to put together a particularly interesting list of investors already in early fundraising rounds. Yet this Israeli startup managed to. Today (Tuesday), the new Israeli startup came out of stealth with a particularly interesting list of investors: the founder of Reddit, Ashton Kutcher and Omri Casspi – and its development is no less interesting.
Remember the GameStop short squeeze that shook the world in 2021? Simply put, a community of investors on Reddit decided to coordinate the purchase of GameStop shares and pumped up its value by hundreds of percent in just a few days. The same community was able to prove that with the help of joint coordination, it is possible to shake up the archaic capital market.
Tal Dadia, the CEO of Antic, which came out of stealth today (Tuesday) said in an interview with Geektime that this very strange state of events was the inspiration for his new development. There is an interesting list of others who have shown particular interest in the startup, so much so they decided to invest in it, and they are: the founder of Reddit, the American actor and investor Ashton Kutcher, and also former NBA basketball player, Omri Casspi, who founded a venture capital fund last year.
"We saw network behaviour between strangers to carry out joint activity. Reddit users trust each other, and they took coordinated action, so we thought it would be interesting to create an infrastructure for safe coordination of actions on the network," he explains. Antic develops ad-hoc purchasing groups for buying items online, so that if you reach the Checkout page, you don’t have to pay alone, but can click the ‘Buy Together’ button, which makes the Antic widget pop up.
This widget allows you to choose how much money you want to put in and what percentage you want to keep from this product, whether it is an NFT, a special weapon for a game, a collectible, or a piece of music. Then, you get a link that allows you to pass it on to friends, to essentially pay together which allows you all to become joint owners of the same product. "Everything is Web 3 without saying it's Web 3. It's a more secure infrastructure. We built shared wallets that everyone must sign, and they are created per transaction. We operate oppositely from the rest of the world: we say what we want to buy and then we put money on it,” said Dadia.
According to Dadia, the GameStop affair happened in parallel to the tremendous growth of NFTs, and people started buying products together but in a more old-fashioned way: "The problem already exists. People buy things together and transfer money back and forth to one another Off-Chain (transactions occurring on a cryptocurrency network that moves the value outside of the blockchain). We create a place where the money must be pooled together, and no one can steal from anyone; everything is recorded on a secure third party that those involved can trust which means they don't really need to even trust each other. After that, we are the owners, and we can make decisions whether to sell or not.”
When you own a certain product yourself, you can decide to sell it on your own terms, but everything changes when you own something as a group. Of course, we asked Dadia what happens if one of the group members wants to sell his share, and he explained that the company is currently developing a mechanism that allows you to liquidate your share, so that the other members of the group can buy it, or you can bring in someone from the outside to join the group to take your place. "We want to solve the liquidity problem that exists today."
After last year's astronomical growth, NFTs and cryptocurrencies have pretty much tanked. Maybe you bet on the wrong field?
Dadia: "We don't see ourselves as a crypto company – we are a blockchain company. We do not deal in currencies or tokens or find value in the use of specific technology. I think that what is happening in the market now (the collapse of crypto and NFTs, etc.) is a very healthy and good thing. May all the scammers disappear, and the coins drop. They are supposed to encourage circulation in the decentralized network. I don't think it's a bad thing, it's a great thing. We rely on a world view that NFT is a noun. We refer to the technology only for the documentation of ownership.”
According to Dadia, NFTs will make a shift from representing bored monkeys or random collectibles to becoming a format for a legal ownership contract documented on the network. He mentions initiatives in the field of gaming, entertainment and even alcohol and clothing as products that will become documented in the blockchain. To answer our question, he replied that the company will collect a certain percentage of each transaction from both the seller's and the buyer's side. The company will enter beta in the coming days, after which it will launch an API and SDK that will enable the implementation of the checkout solution on various websites.
A well-connected team of investors
Not only did Antic present its product and come out of stealth today, but it also announced the closure of a seed funding round of $7 million. On the surface, it may sound like a standard recruitment round backed by the classic VC funds but in actuality, Alexis Ohanian's Seven Seven Six, who you know as the founder of Reddit (yes, the same Reddit that is indirectly responsible for the GameStop affair– can you say cosmic coincidences?) and the Sheva Foundation established by David Citron and Omri Casspi, were the ones to lead the round. Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures, Pantera Capital, Rainfall, and Dapper Labs (the creators of Cryptokitties and NBA Top Shot) also participated in the round.
Dadia said that these very interesting investors came one after the other as a result of interesting connections. A private investor in Antic, who himself founded a collecting company, proposed a connection between Dadia and the founder of Reddit, and according to him, the investment followed quite quickly because he connected with the social concept of the development. According to him, the same acquaintance made joint investments with Omri Casspi and another friend who received an investment from Kutcher. "We are the first investment for his fund, and only now are we able to come out with it. The connection between entrepreneurship and his ties to the world of sports and entertainment is insanely beneficial to us." Casspi is the one who also connected Dadia with Ashton Kutcher's Sound Ventures which tends to invest in the blockchain and NFTs field and also happened to invest in Dapper Labs. So, they have come full circle, as they too have invested in Antic. In other words, there are quite a few connections here that have led to an interesting investor lineup for the new startup.
Antic was founded by Dadia in 2021, who has worked in the blockchain field in the past. Today, the company employs 15 people in its offices in Tel Aviv.