Behind the Scenes: Struck Capital and Mythical Games
Only four months after raising a $75 million Series B, Mythical Games has raised $150 million at a $1.25 billion valuation in a Series C round led by Andreessen Horowitz to launch its Blankos Block Party open-world multiplayer game and its platform to create games with NFT-based play-to-earn mechanics utilizing the blockchain. As Mythical Games’ first and only Seed stage investor, we are extremely proud of what the team has accomplished since our initial investment in 2018.
In this post, Struck Capital Founder and Managing Partner Adam B. Struck reflects on how he first learned about what Mythical’s Co-Founder and CEO, John Linden was building with Mythical Games, and their incredible journey since.
Back to the Start
John Linden has long been a well-respected entrepreneur in the Los Angeles ecosystem. Given we at Struck Capital have always prioritized building meaningful, organic relationships with LA founders, John and I had casually connected a number of times over the years at various events, but prior to 2018 we had not yet formally worked together.
Ever the entrepreneur, for past ventures John had raised money from high-profile VCs like Accel and was close with a number of longstanding firms. For his next idea, however, he was looking for a next-generation investor that had brought together the worlds of traditional VC and web3, distributed ledger technology, and blockchain generally. Struck Capital has worked hard to establish this kind of next-generation venture capital, and having seen the distributed ledger as the next paradigm in transactions, we established our blockchain-focused fund in 2017. With this vision we’d built a solid reputation in the space, and so when I saw John at a crypto community event later that year, he started telling me about this great idea he’d been working on.
In a follow-up meeting shortly after, John told me more about his vision for a blockchain-powered gaming paradigm where players could seamlessly transact within normal gameplay without worrying about fraud or technical hurdles. I had been exploring opportunities in the space generally, and had been looking for infrastructure-type plays — the so-called picks and shovels — as well as that killer use case that could really spread blockchain and distributed ledger technology to the masses. People were already spending billions of dollars on avatar skins, and John described this incredible opportunity now to correlate each skin with a non-fungible token (NFT) on an immutable ledger. He was really talking about using Blockchain technology to formalize and capture this multibillion dollar grey market — the secondary trading of skins on AAA rated games — and bring it to life in a publisher-supported manner.
As a gaming industry veteran, I knew John was the type of founder with the gravitas in the ecosystem to make the largest publishers in the world actually pay attention. And then I got to know his Co-Founder Jamie Jackson who was a Co-Founder of DJ Hero, a senior leader at Activision, and just an incredible person — I was sold. We ended up cutting a million dollar check as the first ever investor in Mythical Games, and it has been an amazing ride ever since.
Why Mythical Games
In many ways, gaming is the perfect place where you can deploy distributed ledger technology at scale. Mythical leverages the insight that a huge market in the gaming world is built on skins which give a user’s avatar status, but there has historically been no way for those skins to formally accrue value and be traded. In the same way that one might pursue status in the physical world with a pair of shoes of a brand of car, there are billions of dollars being spent on skins in the gaming world to enhance and personalize the gaming experience. Developers have responded in-kind by developing entire collections of rare, limited-edition skins.
Despite being a massive market, there had always been a lot of fraud and inconsistency in the exchange of avatar skins prior to Mythical. But, if you can correlate every avatar skin to an NFT on an immutable ledger to prove ownership as well as to prove authenticity and rarity, this unreliable market instantly becomes more valuable. You can also use cryptocurrency as a means of exchange, moving seamlessly between cryptocurrency and fiat currency without the need of any undue trust or middleman in the transaction. With this confluence of factors, gamers had unintentionally been the perfect ideal customer profile for blockchain and distributed ledger technology. And I think John and his team saw that earlier than most. When I could sit with John to feel his energy and see his vision, coupled with the caliber of people he was able to surround himself with to execute, I knew really quickly that this would be something big.
Working with Mythical Games
It has been an incredible journey working with Mythical Games. As an early stage investor you obviously make investments because you want material valuation appreciation from your entry point and you want to see these companies grow. That said, I think, most importantly, what you really want is to develop a meaningful relationship with the founder where they see you not just as their first backer and board member, but also as a friend. You become a confidant, a therapist, or whatever is necessary to help the team through the trials and tribulations that come with scaling a company in the early days.
I recently had the pleasure of being with John and Jamie for dinner on the night that they closed this round from Andreessen Horowitz and officially became a unicorn. And as I’m sitting across the table and I’m realizing that this is not just a business dinner, this is a dinner among friends. For me, that is an incredible situation as it represents this truly wonderful experience of building something special alongside founders — that, in my opinion, is why I want to be a seed stage investor for the rest of my career.
I’ve seen and learned so much by working with the Mythical team. Above all else, they do an excellent job of staying constantly ahead of the curve. Everything in the blockchain world happens very quickly, and so it’s been amazing to see how they continue to innovate and push the envelope. What has also been incredible to watch is just the level of talent that they’ve been able to recruit onto the team very early on. This unique ability for John and Jamie to sit with the best and brightest in the space and convince them to leave their comfortable jobs with attractive stock options, and to instead join this new, disruptive company, has been an amazing thing. I think John and Jamie are the perfect duo, and they’ve built a paradigm that has taught me a lot about what to look for when we back founders.
It’s an incredibly exciting time in the world of blockchain technology. Just days before Mythical was set to announce this unicorn fundraise Facebook announced a name change and holistic company vision entirely focused on the metaverse. In many ways there are more macro tailwinds here than ever before. And with Mythical, the business has honestly moved faster than I would have ever envisioned when we made this investment in 2018.
John now has the team and the capital to meet this opportunity. He’s established himself and this organization as a market leader, and now he’s primed to execute. The Mythical team rightfully sees themselves as the infrastructure and backbone that can bring distributed ledger technology to the masses through gaming. There are even greater ambitions regarding the metaverse to be disclosed at a later date. You can take the success that we’ve had from Blankos Block Party and really start powering the primary and secondary markets of some of the biggest and most high profile games in the world. So, I think the sky’s the limit and that we’re truly just getting started. It’s been a great journey so far, and I can’t wait to see what the next few years hold.
And, to John and the entire Mythical Games team: it’s been a pleasure to work with you and call you friends. We’re beyond excited to see what the future holds and are always committed to doing everything we can to support you on that path!