Haun Ventures is leading a $50 million round in the NFT marketplace Zora, the firm announced Thursday. The investment is the first funding led by Katie Haun’s new venture capital firm after a much-anticipated launch in March, and brings Zora’s valuation to $600 million. It also raises questions about an investment Haun made before her firm even had a name.
“Haun Ventures is dedicated to backing teams building a better internet,” partner Sam Rosenblum wrote in a blog post. “As Web3 expands and NFT use cases along with it, we believe Zora is well-positioned to grow into one of the most important projects in the Web3 ecosystem.”
In Zora, Haun, who co-founded a16z’s crypto fund, is choosing to support a project that arguably adheres more closely to Web3’s decentralized ideals than others in the NFT space, including OpenSea, a company Haun backed in January before her then-formative firm had even settled on a name.
Zora’s marketplace operates entirely on the Ethereum blockchain, allowing creators to build directly on the protocol. Because of this, Zora NFTs can easily be traded on other marketplaces and sites. This contrasts with marketplaces like OpenSea, which has blocked some NFTs from sale. As the smaller startup put it in a press release: “OpenSea is to Amazon as Zora is to Shopify.”
“Zora began its journey with the shared belief that creativity should never be gatekept by the suits, corps, and institutions,” Zora co-founder Jacob Horne wrote in a separate blog post.
Haun has a notable record in the industry, getting her start in crypto as a prosecutor for the Department of Justice investigating cybersecurity and fraud issues. She was Andreessen Horowitz’s first female general partner hire, and together with Chris Dixon was responsible for profitable investments like Coinbase.
Haun Ventures started out with $1.5 billion, the largest solo fundraise by a female VC firm founder to date. Notable hires include Rosenblum and Rachael Horwitz, both Coinbase alums, as well as Airbnb policy strategist Chris Lehane and several a16z colleagues, including Nick Pacilio and Tomicah Tillemann.