NFT 獨角獸再現,AppWorks 參與 Animoca Brands 新一輪 88,888,888 美元募資,總估值達 10 億美元

來自香港的 Animoca Brands 近期宣佈以 10 億美元估值 (Valuation),完成了最新一輪 88,888,888 美元的融資。Animoca Brands 主要業務是透過 NFT (非同質代幣) 向遊戲玩家提供數位資產,旗下遊戲包括:《F1® Delta Time》、《The Sandbox》和《MotoGP™ Ignition》等,是該領域全球領先的企業。

正值疫情升溫的當下,值得台灣新創與創投圈關注的角度與好消息,則是 AppWorks 也參與了本輪融資,並寫下兩個里程碑。第一,這是 AppWorks 繼 2019 年投資 Flow (由知名 NFT 應用《CryptoKitties》、《NBA Top Shot》開發團隊 Dappers Labs 所開發的區塊鏈鏈公鏈) 之後,另一個指標性的 NFT 投資案;第二,這也是 AppWorks 繼投資 Lalamove 與 Dapper Labs / Flow 後,投出的第三隻獨角獸。除了 AppWorks,本輪投資者還包括 Kingsway Capital、RIT Capital Partners、HashKey Fintech Investment Fund 等多家機構。

對 Animoca Brands 來說,本次增資更是一個策略里程碑。Animoca Brands 將利用募得的資金進一步加速成長,持續推廣 NFT 應用,為玩家提供更豐富、基於數位資產的遊戲與服務,更進一步實現 Play-to-Earn 和數位資產跨遊戲互通 (Interoperability) 等次世代遊玩方式。新資本也會用於進一步的購併、開發新產品、繼續進行策略投資,以及獲得更多熱門 IP 授權。這將可鞏固 Animoca Brands 及其各子公司在 NFT 與遊戲領域中的領導地位。

隨著區塊鏈遊戲包括《F1® Delta Time》、《The Sandbox》和《MotoGP™ Ignition》等的成功,以及相關代幣如 REVVSAND 等的推出,並對 Dapper Labs、OpenSea、Bitski、《Axie Infinity》等進行了非常成功的投資,Animoca Brands 已經成為全球在區塊鏈、NFT 和遊戲領域的領導力量。

憑藉最近 GAMEETOWERLMT 代幣的推出,Animoca Brands 正在開拓基於區塊鏈的遊戲內獎勵應用,創造全新的數位遊戲商業模式,而數位遊戲市場在 2020 年的市場規模為 1,797 億美元 (來源:IDC,2020)。

為紀念成為獨角獸的成就,Animoca Brands 也將向投資人、主要合作夥伴和其他幫助成就此時刻的支持者們發行一個 NFT。

對於選擇與 AppWorks 合作,Animoca Brands 共同創辦人暨董事長蕭逸  (Yat Siu) 說道:「台灣擁有一流的消費科技以及蓬勃的遊戲產業,也是全球遊戲領域的主要市場之一,能為 Animoca Brands 下一波成長挹注重要能量。我們選擇與 AppWorks 合作,因為 AppWorks Accelerator 是大東南亞 (東協加台灣) 最大的創業加速器,除了符合我們的長期策略目標外,也能協助我們參與並連結 AppWorks 龐大的創業社群。我們非常期待透過 AppWorks 的支援,在台灣設立一間辦公室。對於擁有台灣家庭根源的我來說 (我的曾外祖父是博士之父王雲五),這是一個特別的時刻,也是我為這個不斷發展的寶島,做出貢獻的一種方式。」

AppWorks 主導這次投資案的合夥人蔡欣翰指出:「我們與 Animoca Brands 的理念不謀而合,都相信區塊鏈與 NFT,將為科技、商業、娛樂乃至於人們的生活,帶來巨大的典範轉移。Yat (蕭逸) 是這個領域的先行者,多年來一直努力推廣 NFT 更廣泛的應用與潛力,Animoca Brands 連續推出多款結合區塊鏈與 NFT 的熱門遊戲,已充分證明他們是這個領域的世界一流團隊,期待透過這次的合作案,能為 AppWorks 致力打造的大東南亞新創生態系,串接起 Animoca Brands 的經驗、技術以及全球頂級的遊戲開發社群,共同打造出更大的商機與前景。」

同時間,AppWorks 正在積極招募 NFT 新創加入下一期 AppWork Accelerator #23,歡迎所有有興趣與 Dapper Labs / Flow、Animoca Brands 等 AppWorks 投資的 NFT 平台連結、合作的創業者加入。

關於 Animoca Brands

Animoca Brands 是數位娛樂、區塊鏈、遊戲化和人工智慧領域的領導者,名列《金融時報》2021 亞太地區高成長公司。 Animoca Brands 開發並發布了廣泛的產品組合,包括 REVV 代幣SAND 代幣;《The Sandbox》、《Crazy Kings》和《Crazy Defense Heroes》在內的原創遊戲;以及使用熱門知識產權,諸如Formula 1 ®、漫威、美國職業摔角、恐龍戰隊、MotoGP™和多啦 A 夢品牌的產品。 

Animoca Brands 的區塊鏈投資組合和合作夥伴包括 Sky Mavis (《Axie Infinity》)、Dapper Labs (《CryptoKitties》和《NBA Top Shot》)、OpenSea、Harmony、Bitski 以及 Alien Worlds。其子公司包括《The Sandbox》、Quidd、Gamee、nWay、Pixowl 以及 Lympo。
欲了解更多信息,請瀏覽 www.animocabrands.com,或通過關注 Animoca Brands 的 FacebookTwitter 以獲取更新的資訊。

【歡迎所有 AI、Blockchain、NFT 與目標東南亞市場的創業者,加入專為你們服務的 AppWorks Accelerator

How Founder-CEO Better Set up Their Startup for a Successful IPO

Sophie Chiu, Associate (邱敬媛 / 投資經理)

Sophie is an Associate in the investment team. Before joining AppWorks in 2020, Sophie had 10 years of experience covering public equities. She was part of the portfolio management team at Neuberger Berman, focusing on emerging market opportunities. Prior to that she served as a research analyst at Credit Suisse, JPMorgan, and London-based Autonomous Research. Sophie holds a Master of Finance with distinction from Warwick Business School and BS Finance from National Taiwan University. Her passion and expertise, however, extend far beyond just researching companies and industries. She is also an author of two published poetry books and holds a keen interest in human psychology and human behavior.

Whilst founders and early investors often regard an initial public offering (IPO) as an end goal, public market investors rather see it as the company’s first debut, akin to the NBA draft. With that said, there are some key qualities that the capital market looks for in a public company. In fact, there is already a standard of what is regarded as a ‘good IPO.’ I believe by understanding this, mid-to-late stage founder-CEOs can design a more structured roadmap for going public, or even rethink whether an IPO is actually the best option for their company. This piece of article is more written for growth stage founder-CEOs. However, if you’re an early-stage founder, I believe this article can also shed some light on what is ultimately valued the most in the sometimes arcane process of filing for an IPO. 

Trust is what helps companies earn long-term loves in the public market. It’s a playing field with big guys that have already proved their sustainability, building layers upon layers of trust as each quarter passes. Trust is cultivated not only through data (a result of management and operation), but also through market reaction. This means, executing a good or even strong IPO is indeed very important because the trust is then solidified from day one.

Three qualities: Growth, Size, and Momentum

From my 10 years of experience in both brokers and asset management firms, I see growth, size, and momentum the three qualities that overwhelmingly dictate the success of an IPO. Usually a banker would prepare a scorecard, rating a handful of factors that advise the parameters of a public offering. But, these three in particular have an outsized impact on a company’s debut, and understanding their underlying mechanics can help founders become more informed before they enter the negotiating room and differentiate true advice from sweet words. I will also introduce a few unfortunate case studies to help illustrate the importance of these factors. 

Growth

Growth, like in any fundraising process, is the most important factor. In the public market, growth expectations are not as high as in private, early-stage startups where 100% month-over-month is the norm. However, a 3-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 50-60% is still an ideal benchmark to strive towards, at least for a technology company. Consequently, timing of an IPO is a key consideration for startups; list while there are still strong growth prospects, otherwise poor market feedback is all but certain.

Candy Crush Saga, a staple among every grandma’s home screen, had gone through such pain. Its Irish parent company, King Digital Entertainment (delisted in 2016), first filed for an IPO in September 2013. Soon in December 2013, news about King’s consideration of delaying the IPO due to market concerns about the sustainable growth of the company had spread. Back then, Candy Crush Saga accounted for over 75% of King’s gross bookings and it has already reached 500 million downloads, topping the charts of the iTunes store. From the IPO filing, monthly unique players (MUPs) had already declined in the latest quarter by 6.5% , whilst gross bookings and revenues dropped 2-3%. This implied a negative signal for the growth expectations post IPO. The resulting impact on King’s stock price was evident, down 16% on the day of the IPO, with its valuation dropping US$ 2 billion (from US$ 7 billion) in the span of two months. Moreover, the follow-up financial reports confirmed the market’s concerns; King delivered a mere 20% in revenue growth in 2014, and subsequently declined 25% in 2015.

Chart: KING already showed a decelerating trend of MUPs and Gross Bookings in the last reported
quarter (4th quarter in 2013) before IPO.

Size   

Size is a very important factor, but often overlooked by many startup founders; although, it may matter less if the growth rate is significant, say 80-100% year over year. Size encompasses both a company’s market cap and daily trading value and collectively determines the number of investors that can potentially participate. In Asia, the most ideal professional fund size is at least US$ 1-3 billion, which means an average position would be minimum US$ 20 million. This implies two things: (1) since most funds are not allowed to own more than 10% of the company, there’s an implied minimum market cap of US$ 200 million; and (2) even if a fund is willing to trade for 60 days (three months of working days) to buy enough shares, it means the daily trading value needs to be US$ 1.6 million at least (assuming a fund would not trade more than 20% of the amount to avoid affecting the price). However, the math here represents the bare minimum case. Most investors consider US$ 500-1,000 million as the bottom threshold for market cap, with anything below yielding very little appetite.

Many startups in Asia might face issues here. In Taiwan, it is a very common experience. For example, we have Kuo Brothers (8477 Taiwan), one of the main e-commerce players that was listed at a valuation of only US$ 30 million. This already implied a potential daily liquidity lower than US$ 1 million, greatly limiting the size of the potential investor pool. I was fortunate enough to chat with the chairman of Kuo Brothers Jerry Kuo and get his thoughts on this matter: “We certainly recognise the limit from our size, which actually leads to Kuo Brothers being greatly undervalued. However, coming to the public market still has its beauty, especially in talent recruiting and business expansion, at least for Kuo Brothers at the current stage. I believe in time the market will recognise our value as we grab more shares from this highly potential market in Taiwan.” 

Despite many Southeast Asian stock markets sharing similar features as Taiwan’s, founders in this region have long recognized the necessity to expand and reach a certain scale before even thinking about filing for a public offering. Sea Group’s 2017 IPO on the NYSE paved the way for Southeast Asian startups. It was the first unicorn from the region that went public at a valuation of over US$ 4 billion. Many other unicorn startups in excess of that size including Grab, Traveloka, and Gojek are now on deck.

Momentum

Momentum is the last but no less critical factor for a successful IPO. When I say momentum, I mean the market reaction in the first couple of days or months preceding a company’s first day of trading. Some may regard momentum as a function of trading or expectation management. I would define it as a reflection of a founder’s ability to deliver on their promise to the market. Momentum is generated only if a company achieves, if not exceeds  its forward-looking guidance. It is about execution. If there are any technical matters to take into consideration, at most I would suggest avoiding setting your listing window during major political or economic events such as elections or Fed meetings.

I would categorize momentum into three stages. These stages all matter, but it’s better if a company builds a strong momentum throughout, or at least exhibits a gradually recovering trend.

Stage 1: The IPO day – I would recommend that a company must never underestimate IPO day. It very often sets the tone of the market reaction. It is a direct reflection of the market’s appetite or view of the IPO pricing, and future growth potential. When deciding the IPO valuation, higher doesn’t necessarily always mean better; a valuation on the high end could lead to inflated expectations and therefore a higher probability of price correction on IPO day.

Stage 2: Before the first reporting – Investors tend to build some buffer in their model. They tend to apply some, if not a major discount to the guidance outlined in a company’s IPO prospectus. That is why expectations are rather mixed and vulnerable before the first reporting. Do not do anything that leads to further doubt. Again, it is about execution. A company should deliver what it has promised, signalling that the business is on track and in good hands. Any mistake (or misfortune) at this stage could instantly break investor trust, requiring an extensive amount of time and effort to rebuild it.

Stage 3: First reporting day – A company should deliver a good set of results that are in line with the guidance provided during the IPO process. The market reaction on the first reporting day will anchor a basic view on the company. If the reaction is strong, the company would have secured a solid level of trust among investors. On the other hand, a bad reaction would take extra effort and time to rebuild the company’s positioning in investors’ minds.

Snap’s IPO in 2017 is a great example here. Although Snap’s share price surged 44% on the first day of trading, the stock price soon lost momentum. Major reasons were related to the uncertainty of the IPO valuation, which was at 62x P/S ratio vs. Twitter’s 4x and Facebook’s 13x back then. Stock price fell 50% from the peak before the first reporting in the second quarter of 2017. However, the results made the situation worse. New installs of Snap dropped 21% year over year, comparatively worse than Instagram’s 8% year-over-year increase in the same period. Revenues and user growth also undershot, eliciting deep disappointment among investors and sending the price of its stock even lower. After this, Snap hovered at a low-price range for two years until they managed a comeback in 2019.   

Focus on your flywheel

Given the qualities discussed, I hope you now have a better idea of what exactly it means to be IPO-ready. My final piece of advice echoes popular sentiment among the most common early-stage pitfalls to avoid—premature scaling. Do not prematurely go into an IPO for the sole purpose of competing against the big guys.  We all agree that going IPO has its merits: It offers an exit for your early investors, and lets veteran employees realise the value of their ESOP and efforts. In the meantime,  the public market is indeed an effective and open place for (friendly) funding. However one should not ignore the fact that public market investors are not like the VCs and angels who spend years watching your company grow. Every inch of your ambition, vision, and execution are now under the eye of public scrutiny, where investor reactions tend to be immediate and widely irrational. So irrational, in fact, that an entirely new field of study has emerged called behavioral finance, where a handful of psychologists and economists have already been awarded Nobel Prizes. When expectations go sour, both valuation and liquidity (trading value) drain even faster. This vicious cycle can significantly impede the value and momentum of your business, taking years to build up again.

Therefore, I would highly recommend growth stage founders put a proper plan in place when considering an IPO. Make sure you have good growth, good size, and good execution and hence can deliver good initial momentum. Only then will you be in a position to reap the full benefits of the public market.

【We welcome all AI, Blockchain, NFT, or Southeast Asia founders to join AppWorks Accelerator

Photo by Ahmad Ardity on Pixabay

AppWorks + Flow

#漢文在下 Today AppWorks Accelerator is proud to announce our new collaboration with Flow. Since investing in Flow back in 2019, we have been closely working with the chain’s creators Dappers Labs—the very same team behind CryptoKitties and NBA Top Shot—and observing their methodical approach in pushing forward new applications on the Flow blockchain. Starting from gaming and entertainment, we see a strong ecosystem thriving with the support from Flow’s infrastructure, which includes over 300 projects in the pipeline and over 3,000 developers building on Flow’s Testnet.

While at the same time from AppWorks’ side, we see NFTs being the next frontier in the Blockchain space. As NFTs are still at a relatively early stage, startups have the advantage of being a disruptor vs. the big guys. We hope that as NFTs start to take off, all the best founders can gather at AppWorks, learn from each other, and become winners in the next 5-10 years.

To encourage founders to seize the growth opportunity in the next decade, AppWorks Accelerator is announcing our collaboration with Flow. This collaboration will focus on supporting founders and teams working with blockchain technology, in the Greater Southeast Asia region, that are ready to build the open world on Flow. 

With the resources from both AppWorks’ and Flow’s ecosystems, we want to ensure teams have all the support they need to build amazing products for consumer-scale adoption. We look forward to seeing more applications built in NFT, DeFi, and consumer products that people like to use in their everyday lives. 

Resources provided by Flow: 

  • Dedicated support from the Flow team regarding tech, marketing, community, and product
  • Office Hours sessions with the Flow team on a referral basis, facilitated by AppWorks
  • Access to Flow’s educational resources and valuable experiences shared by existing blockchain projects already live on Flow
  • Top projects in the accelerator may receive investment opportunities from some of our investor partners
  • Access to FLOW token credits to bring your application to Flow mainnet and bootstrap your initial user acquisition strategy

These founders are encouraged to apply:

  • Working on NFT and/or DeFi  
  • Blockchain developers 
  • Want to build and launch their product on Flow

With the support from:

  • Blocto by Portto, official digital wallet partnered with Flow (AW#19)
  • Forbole, validator (AW#18)
  • Animoca Brands, the global leader in branded blockchain gaming (AppWorks Portfolio)

Application timeline:

  • Applications are now open.
  • The first round of interviews will be via an online application.
  • Interview invitations and admission offers will be sent out on a rolling basis.
  • The full program will kick off in September 2021 and last through January 2022.

Apply Now to AppWorks Accelerator #23

今天,AppWorks Accelerator 隆重宣布新增 Flow 為平台夥伴。AppWorks 自從 2019 年投資 Flow 以來,就一直與 Flow 公鏈、同時也是 CryptoKitties 與 NBA Top Shot 開發團隊的 Dappers Labs 保持非常密切的合作,有計畫地持續推動建構在 Flow 公鏈上的各式 NFT 應用與生態系。從遊戲與娛樂起步,在基礎建設日趨成熟下,我們看到 Flow 正成為一個蓬勃發展的生態系,目前,共有超過 300 個開發案、超過 3,000 位開發者在 Flow 的測試網進行開發。

在這發展的過程中,從 AppWorks 的角度觀察,我們認為 NFT 是區塊鏈領域中下一個前沿應用。由於 NFT 仍處於相對早期的階段,和大企業相比,新創更具備顛覆者的優勢。AppWorks 希望隨著 NFT 發展起飛,可以把最優秀的創業者都聚集在 AppWorks Accelerator,彼此互相學習、激盪,一起在未來 5-10 年成為 NFT 浪潮下的贏家。

為了鼓勵創業者抓住 NFT 這個未來十年的重要典範轉移,AppWorks Accelerator 宣布與 Flow 合作。主要目的,是希望全力支持大東南亞地區 (東協 + 台灣) 運用區塊鏈技術的創業者與新創,一起在 Flow 上建構新的開放世界。

在 AppWorks 與 Flow 兩大生態系的合作下,我們希望確保有志打造傑出產品與服務、創造大規模應用的創業者與新創,都能得到所需要的協助。我們期待看到更多 NFT 或 DeFi 的創新商業模式被應用於日常生活中。 

Flow 提供的資源:

  • Flow 團隊在技術、行銷、社群和產品方面的專屬支持
  • 由 AppWorks 安排與 Flow 團隊的 Office Hours
  • 共享 Flow 的教育資源、以及其它 Flow 區塊鏈專案的寶貴經驗
  • 優秀的開發專案,有機會獲得 Flow 與其他夥伴的投資
  • 獲得 FLOW Token 贊助機會,將產品發佈於 Flow 主網,加速初期獲客

鼓勵以下類型的新創團隊申請:

  • 致力開發 NFT 或 DeFi 相關應用
  • 區塊鏈開發者
  • 想要在 Flow 上佈建產品或服務

AppWorks 生態系共同支持:

  • Blocto (AW#19):與 Flow 合作的官方數位錢包 
  • Forbole (AW#18):區塊鏈驗證人
  • Animoca Brands (AppWorks 投資案):全球領先的區塊鏈遊戲商

申請時程:

  • 現已開放申請。
  • 第一輪申請通過,將以線上進行面談
  • 面談與錄取通知採先收先審制度 (Rolling-basis)
  • 本期加速器將自 2021 年 9 月開始,至 2022 年 1 月結束

現在就申請加入 AppWorks Accelerator #23

The AppWorks Accelerator FAQ (for Founders Applying to AW#23)

Founded in 2010 by Jamie Lin, AppWorks Accelerator is a startup community created by founders, for founders. We are committed to fostering the next generation of entrepreneurs in Greater Southeast Asia and to accelerating the region’s transition into the digital era. 

Every six months, we take in founders operating on the frontiers of AI, Blockchain, NFTs, and Southeast Asia, equipping them with the necessary resources, mentorship, and guidance to get their ventures off the ground. 

As an international founder we know there are many considerations when applying to an accelerator. That’s why we’ve created an FAQ page to help you decide whether or not AppWorks is suitable for your startup. 

As of May 12, AppWorks Accelerator #23 is open for applications. You can find important information about the Accelerator experience on our main page. 

The FAQs

1. What do I need to know before joining an accelerator in Taiwan during COVID? What is AppWorks doing to help founders make the most out of the accelerator before it’s completely safe to travel and congregate?  How are you helping founders deal with the impact from the pandemic?

The world has seen nothing like the COVID-19 pandemic, and we can confidently say that no founder we know had this on their disaster mitigation plans. But the experience of being a founder is all about learning and adaptation, even when things look dire. We are here to support you to do just that, no matter the circumstances. 

To make sure founders accepted to AW#23 will have the benefits of connecting to batchmates, to mentors, to markets, and to essential knowledge and services, we have designed a hybrid program that serves both local Taiwan-based founders as well as international founders abroad that cannot physically enter Taiwan due to various COVID-related restrictions. 

Currently, up to six hours of online sessions per week are provided, ranging from office hours with our partners to coaching sessions and workshops with founders from all over GSEA. Such meetings include founder mentoring sessions with veterans of the technology industry who have launched startups from zero to one, and even listed several IPOs.

Finding connections with supply chain partners and other potential business partners will not be a problem, either, since we will help to connect you to these resources through virtual introductions. 

In addition to providing these and other aspects of our curriculum online, we will continue to make services such as cloud resources and other perks from our technology partners available, as we have been doing for the past 10 years. There is no obligation to sit in the physical accelerator space in order to take advantage of them. 

Finally, we will continue to monitor visa and travel restrictions in a timely way and update you with new information we learn during the application process. 

The moment it becomes easier to physically travel to Taipei, you and the other AW#23 founders will be the first to know. And rest assured, although offline events have been strictly limited, you’ll still get to meet hundreds of investors, journalists, corporate executives, and other partners who can make a positive impact on your founder journey through the online version of our Demo Day. 

2. How can AppWorks Accelerator help an NFT founder? Why is AW#23 specifically calling for NFT startups?

Although NFTs are technically an application of blockchain, we believe that they are actually significant enough to deserve their own category, similar to the relationship between e-commerce and the internet. Compared to 3 years ago, the blockchain industry is now much bigger and more mature, with various chains, wallets, exchanges and the likes, serving as the infrastructure with lots of quality development tools available, allowing founders to run lean, experiment, and launch NFT products fast.

It now appears that the initial application of NFTs is leaning more towards the proof of digital art and asset ownership; but, we believe that in the long-term, many more types of use cases will evolve through NFTs. As NFTs are still at a relatively early stage, startups have the advantage of being a disruptor vs. the big guys. We hope that as NFTs start to take off, all the best founders can gather at AppWorks, learn from each other, and become winners in the rise of NFTs in the next 5-10 years.

As an NFT founder, you can expect these from joining AppWorks Accelerator:

a. Grow with the largest blockchain founder community in Greater Southeast Asia

Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. After starting your own business, most of your friends and family won’t understand the ups and downs you’re experiencing as a founder. If you can share these experiences with fellow founders who are as capable and determined, who understand when you encounter setbacks, you will be more motivated to continue. In addition to about 50-60 other founders accelerating together in the same program, we will hold frequent alumni gatherings where you’ll meet many alumni who have gone through the 0 to 1 stage. 

The ecosystem established by AppWorks Accelerator now consists of 395 active teams with a total of 1,331 founders. Together, these startups total US$ 8.05B in revenues. The blockchain ecosystem within the AppWorks community now consists of 57 active teams with a total of 94 founders. Together, these startups total US$ 295M in revenues and employ over 700 people globally. The largest founder community in the region can help support founders working on NFTs who want to learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship through introductions of resources and connections in the startup ecosystem.

b. Learn together with NFT startups

Although NFTs are still a relatively new concept, there are already a few NFT-related startups in the AppWorks ecosystem, such as Blocto (AW#19), a mobile portal to the blockchain world featuring seamless integrations with different wallets and web browsers; Lootex (AW#20), a digital marketplace that runs NFT auctions; and Animoca Brands, an AppWorks portfolio that is committed to promoting the development of blockchain and NFTs in the gaming industry. For this upcoming batch, we are specifically calling for founders working in the NFT space to join the community and build a better ecosystem together.

c. Flow ecosystem and resources

AppWorks is also the second largest investor in the public chain Flow, developed by Dapper Labs, the team behind CryptoKitties and NBA Top Shot. If you’re interested in developing a new business model on Flow or the chance to talk to various stakeholders in the Flow ecosystem, you can receive more direct resources and support from AppWorks and Flow’s exclusive collaboration.

With the largest community in the region alongside support from the Flow ecosystem, founders working in the NFT space will be able to grow and thrive in their founder journey. 

3. What does AppWorks look for in applications?

When AppWorks reviews applications submitted by founders, we pay special attention to a founder’s North Star. Some questions that might help you think about whether AppWorks is a good fit for you: 

  • Why do a startup?
  • What problem do you want to solve and why?
  • What do you believe fundamentally needs to exist in this world that doesn’t already?
  • What kind of future do you want to create and how will you get there?
  • What have you already done to demonstrate your commitment to tackling this problem?

AppWorks Accelerator’s online application covers about 30 topics related to team background, product/service, business model, market analysis and more. It is very detailed and requires time to complete. It also includes a required one-minute self-intro from the founder (CEO).

4. Does AppWorks Accelerator cost anything?

No. AppWorks Accelerator has always been free for founders. We will not charge rent or service fees, nor will we require any form of compensation, such as sweat equity, options, revenue, or profit-sharing. Our exclusive mission is to help founders. 

5. We need funding now, can we get investment by joining AppWorks?

The short answer is it depends on what stage you are in your journey. When capital can significantly enhance the strength and competitive advantage of your startup, any AppWorks founder is welcome to start a discussion with us on fundraising. We will do our best to advise and support you with US$212 million in assets under management. 

Please note, AppWorks Accelerator will never require teams to accept our investment before joining the accelerator, nor will teams ever need to provide any form of equity or revenue / profit share returns.

6. Why wouldn’t AppWorks admit founders working outside of AI, Blockchain, NFT, or SEA?

We believe that AI and blockchain are based on the good foundation that the internet has built, and the extended data applications and the decentralized model will be a huge disruption that founders must leverage in the next decade. Within Blockchain, NFTs enable wider adoption of blockchain technologies and applications as we move closer to the digital world.

At the same time, SEA’s digital revolution is well underway, with a young, ever-expanding, and increasingly affluent middle class driving brisk economic growth across the region. SEA also features one of the world’s largest populations at over 650 million people, many of which are digital natives and early adopters of technology, lending itself as a hotbed for entrepreneurship and innovation. 

Therefore, this is the focus of our attention for now. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen the popularity and penetration of mobile internet. If you want to seize the opportunities in the next decade, think about how to leverage these key areas to create the future.

7. I am not a technical founder, or I need to find an engineer to help scale my idea, can I still apply?

Yes, you can. In a manner of speaking, you have come to the right country. 

Taiwan graduates over 25,000 hardware and computer science engineers each year and is world-famous for the engineering and computer science mastery that has boosted the quality of international companies like Apple and Acer in hardware and Google and Microsoft in the software category, to name but a few. 

We strongly recommend founders who come to Taiwan check out the country’s vast human talent resources. Part of the founder journey will be about learning how to hire, and there is probably no better place in Asia to do that engineering hiring than here. 

8. My service (or product) has not yet started to make money. Can I still apply?

Of course! There probably isn’t a better time to learn in an accelerator than as a founder just starting out. This period before a founder has built a startup into a scalable business model with  Product-Market Fit is called the “seed stage”. During this period, founders always need more than funding; they need a variety of entrepreneurial-related insights, inspiration from other founders, and room for trial and error. AppWorks Accelerator was built to provide these, and more. 

9. I already raised a Series A / I’m profitable, is AppWorks right for me?

The most important thing for us is to identify where a founder is in their journey.

Reaching a funding goal can be a cause for celebration, but it’s also a relatively minor part of the growth of a founder. So many more things can go right or wrong, even with a funding round. There are many other facets to master. When we admit founders into the program, it is because we have carefully considered what they need as a founder, and how our resources and network, and Taiwan’s unique market and supply chain position in the world, can help them grow. 

Joel Leong and Henry Chan at ShopBack had already built a business model and received seed funding in 2015 when they launched in Singapore, before they came to AppWorks Accelerator #13 in 2016. 

Joel told us that had the team known about Taiwan’s massive US$ 42.2 Billion GMV a year e-economy and how it made it possible to figure out crucial e-commerce and engineering solutions for them, they would have made the move to Taiwan sooner. It demonstrates that funding rounds and business model maturity do not limit founders to learning something new.  As long as you think that AppWorks can help you in the entrepreneurial learning process, you should apply. 

10. Since I am not a Taiwanese citizen, can you help me obtain a proper visa?

International founders admitted to AppWorks Accelerator, according to your qualifications and needs, AppWorks can help apply for the Entrepreneur Visa or Gold Card in Taiwan. This enables founders from overseas to concentrate on work in Taiwan without having to travel abroad to sort out troublesome visa issues. We have professionals at the Accelerator who can offer advice on this process. 

11. After the AppWorks Accelerator program begins, do I have to be there every day? Can overseas teams participate remotely?

AppWorks arranges about four to six hours of speaker series, workshops, office hours, and gatherings each week. These are tailored to the needs of current batch founders. We encourage teams to participate in as many of them as possible to learn from the veteran founders we invite to these sessions. AppWorks also provides a free co-working space. As for whether the team should choose to work in AppWorks, this is up to you.

If you want to test the Taiwan market with AppWorks, or set up a technical team, we strongly recommend you to invest the time and effort to personally understand Taiwan’s cultural environment and market. 

12. Do I have to set up a company to join AppWorks Accelerator?

Not necessarily, but we would recommend an overseas founder to set up a Taiwan office, especially those of you that are B2B facing. This may better enable you to find business partners and negotiate commercial agreements later. AppWorks has professional accounting and legal specialists who can assist in handling procedures for landing in Taiwan.

As Andrew Jiang, co-founder of Soda Labs (AW#17) told us, when you take the time to physically show up in the market, you get “10x the attention and focus of potential customers and partners” you seek in your business development process. 

13. What is the difference between the application’s first mover round and final round?

The application period is split into two intakes, with interviews and admissions facilitated on a rolling basis. Based on past experience, teams that submit their application earlier tend to have a higher chance of being admitted, and are also immediately granted access to all the resources that AppWorks Accelerator has to offer.

We hope the above FAQ can help you clarify your questions about AppWorks Accelerator. If you seek more clarity, please write to: a@appworks.tw and we will try to answer your questions.

We welcome all AI, Blockchain, NFT, or Southeast Asia founders to join AppWorks Accelerator. Applications will be open until July 21th, 2021. 

未來已來!廣告、訂閱模式後,不要錯過 NFT 的媒體浪潮

Antony Lee, Communications Master (李欣岳 / 媒體公關總監)

負責媒體與社群溝通相關輔導。加入 AppWorks 前有 18 年媒體經驗,是台灣第一批主跑網路產業的記者,先後任職《數位時代》副總編輯、《Cheers 快樂工作人》資深主編、SmartM 網站總編輯。畢業於交大管科系,長期關注媒體產業變化,熱愛閱讀商業與科技趨勢、企業與人物故事,樂於與人交流分享,期許自己當個「Internet 傳教士」。

過去幾個月,NFT 熱潮瞬間吸引了極大的關注。幾乎每一週,都有主流媒體報導某位藝術家、藝人、球星、創業家的 NFT 商品賣出高價。在這些讓人目不暇給的新聞中,美聯社 (The Associated Press) 、《時代》雜誌 (Time)、《紐約時報》(The New York Times) 也快速推出 NFT 的應用,我覺得對媒體產業的意義更大,因為,這象徵了媒體產業即將進入 NFT 的新時代。

3 月 11 日,1846 年創立、今年已 174 歲的美聯社完成 (可能是) 新聞史上首顆 NFT 拍賣。美聯社為了紀念 2020 年拜登與川普的選戰,成為第一次在區塊鏈上鏈的美國大選,將投票結果製作成數位藝術作品「A View from Outer Space」,以 NFT 的方式開放競標,在這幅創作中,以外太空的視角,美國各州分別以藍色或紅色標示,代表著拜登或川普在各州勝出。最終以 100.9 顆以太幣成交,以當時幣價計算,約等於 18 萬美元。

Source: OpenSea

3 月 22 日,1923 年創立,今年已 98 歲的《時代》雜誌,宣布以 NFT 型式拍賣過往三期的雜誌封面,分別是「上帝已死?」(1966 年 4 月發行)、「真相已死?」(2017 年 4 月發行) 、「法幣已死?」(2021 年 3 月發行),最高拍賣價格為「真相已死?」的 88 顆以太幣,以當時幣價計算,約等於 13.8 萬美元。隨後,《時代》雜誌也陸續將多期對人類具有歷史意義的封面,以 NFT 型式拍賣,例如 「Amateur Photographer」(1953 年 11 月發行)、「Space Exploration」(1959 年 1 月發行)、「The Telephone Man」(1959 年 2 月)、「The Computer in Society」(1965 年 4 月發行) 等,分別象徵照相機、太空探索、電話、電腦走入人類世界。在概念上,類似以 NFT 發行前期雜誌的復刻版。

Source: SuperRare

3 月 25 日,1851 年創刊,至今已 170 歲的《紐約時報》,專欄作家 Keven Roose 就將一篇網站文章〈在區塊鏈上買這篇專欄〉(Buy This Column on the Blockchain!),以 NFT 型式進行 24 小時拍賣,他並在專欄中問道:「為什麼記者不能也加入 NFT 派對?」最終,這篇專欄的 NFT,以 350 顆以太幣結標,用當時幣價計算,約等於 56 萬美元,並將所得捐給《紐約時報》旗下擁有 110 年歷史的 Neediest Cases Fund 慈善基金,未來每一次轉手交易,這個基金可以再獲得 10% 的版稅 (Royalty)。

事實上,台灣媒體在 NFT 領域已有初步切入,並非一片空白。4 月 19 日,「台灣事實查核中心」的兩篇作品,被交易平台 FACTS-NFT 選為第一波推出的查核報告 NFT 收藏品,鼓勵大眾以 NFT 的方式支持查核組織運作,共同打擊假新聞。在第一個月,每則查核報告會以 0.05 顆以太幣交易,事實查核組織將獲得 86% 的交易價值,14% 是平台的服務費用,事實查核組織也能夠在每次的轉手交易中,抽取 10% 的費用。

媒體報導新科技、新應用、新商業模式並不稀奇。值得注意的,則是在全球擁有廣泛影響力的百年媒體,選擇在 NFT 發展初期,就積極下海測試水溫,啟動新商業模式的數位轉型,因為 NFT 正預示了另一個媒體新時代來臨。

儘管時空條件並不相同,但相較於 Internet 的發展歷史,NFT 走入人們生活,進入主流媒體的報導視野,所需的時間極短。Internet 技術的前身 ARPANET ,早在 1960 年代就已誕生,但直到冷戰結束後的 1990 年代,才進入商業化,在 1995 年劃時代網路股 Netscape 成功 IPO 後,Internet 才獲得主流財經媒體的關注和報導,還要再等 5 到 10 年甚至更久以後,媒體產業才進入內容數位化、網路原生內容、數位內容訂閱等數位轉型。以太坊上的 NFT 技術協定,在 2017 年 9 月被首度提出,2018 年 6 月才被確認成為業界標準,距今僅有 3 年。

人們閱讀、獲取資訊與觀點的需求不會消失,只會轉移。可以預期,除了傳統媒體擁抱 NFT 之外,未來 3 到 5 年,將有一波建立在 NFT 模式上的新媒體創業潮。一如在 Internet、Mobile Internet 帶來的典範轉移下,因使用、閱讀行為轉變,帶動各種數位原生、行動原生、社群原生、知識訂閱原生媒體的創業熱潮。 

NFT 是 Non-Fungible Token 的縮寫,中文翻譯是「非同質代幣」,也就是「同質代幣」(Fungible Token) 的對比。不管是紙鈔、硬幣,或是比特幣、以太幣,都屬同質代幣,每一個單位皆等值、相同,今天我借你十顆以太幣,下個月你再還我十顆,儘管是不同的十顆,但價值都一樣,借貸雙方都會接受;非同質代幣則每顆雖然近似,但卻並不盡然相同,某位明星球員的球員卡 NFT,編號第 1 號、第 88 號、第 5487 號就是不一樣。NFT 可應用在資產的數位擁有權證明。

正因為每個 NFT 都是獨一無二,所有交易紀錄和擁有證明都紀錄在區塊鏈上。所以 NFT 具備了收藏的價值,不論是文字、影片、音樂、插畫、數位藝術品等各種可以數位形式發行的商品,只要具備收藏價值,都有可能以 NFT 的形式發行。

相比廣告和訂閱,能為媒體帶來更大的營收

對於媒體創業者,乃至於整體產業來說,NFT 很可能是繼廣告模式、訂閱模式後,第三個重要的商業模式,重要性以及為媒體創造的營收,將超越前兩個商業模式。廣告、訂閱、NFT 模式,分別對應的是讀者、訂戶、粉絲三種媒體使用者的類型,用行銷漏斗來解釋,上層是讀者 (廣告模式)、中層是訂戶 (訂閱模式)、下層是粉絲 (NFT 模式);用簡單的經濟學模型來解釋,在需求曲線之下,NFT 模式能為媒體創造最大面積的營收、其次是訂閱模式,廣告模式則最差。三個模式的營收潛力與其他特色,分別分析如下:

聚集讀者的廣告模式

從營收角度來說,廣告模式的成果最差。媒體需要靠特定主題聚集、吸睛一批免費閱讀的讀者,以此來賣廣告版位獲取營收,以流量為經營重點。但在資訊爆炸、人人注意力有限的情況下,要吸引讀者閱讀內容的難度越來越高,任何單一媒體要靠提升流量拉抬廣告業績,將越來越辛苦。此外,對媒體來說,數位廣告整體儘管仍在成長,但卻越來越難賺,大部分的廣告營收,都集中在少數科技巨頭身上,例如,2020 年美國的數位廣告市場,Google 與 Facebook 兩家就拿下 55.6% 的市佔率,而市場朝向科技巨頭傾斜的情況,短期內很難翻轉。

此外,以點擊數來衡量內容優劣,也降低了媒體願意投入時間、人力、金錢製作好內容的動機。為了追求流量,媒體只能選擇讀者最大公約數的主題和內容,最後結果,往往造成網路上到處都是類似的免費內容,而深度、優質、有影響力,但讀者基數相對較小的主題與內容,在這樣的模式下,則越來越難出現。

爭取訂戶的訂閱模式

相較廣告模式,訂閱模式的營收潛力較佳。訂閱模式的關鍵,在於媒體聚焦某個特定主題,長期持續產出品質穩定的內容,以贏得訂戶的信賴 (訂戶願意預付未來一年的費用,訂閱某個媒體的內容,代表訂戶相信未來一年內,能持續收到符合期待的內容)。雖然可因此創造比廣告模式更多營收,但一致的訂閱價格,代表與每一位訂戶的關係,等同於無差異的 Commodity,缺乏具體衡量每個內容價值的機制,有無法做到差異化訂價的限制。

此外,近年訂閱制興起,加速造成媒體產業 M 型化,擁有全球品牌形象的大媒體,或是具有特色利基的個人與微型媒體,是這個趨勢下的贏家。對絕大多數的媒體來說,要依據媒體屬性、閱讀行為等考量,在官網上建立起付費牆、訂閱機制,都是不小的技術門檻,再加上數位訂閱不受地理限制的特色,讓擁有全球性權威品牌形象的媒體,得以在訂閱模式中大幅勝出,根據 FIPP 與 CeleraOne 統計,全球目前達到 10 萬訂戶等級的媒體網站,共有 38 個,其中一半來自英語系媒體,例如《紐約時報》、《華盛頓郵報》、《華爾街日報》、《金融時報》、《經濟學人》等,皆是全球在各媒體領域的龍頭,另外一半,幾乎是各語系中的唯一代表,例如,中文或日文僅各有一家媒體網站。對於中型、區域級、侷限在單一國家的媒體,推廣訂閱制並不容易,很難在訂戶規模上獲得太大突破。

反而是一人或微型媒體,更有突破的機會,因為這類媒體的營運成本低,外部生態系的支援日趨成熟。根據 Antler 估計,在創作者經濟 (Creator Economy) 的生態系中,全球目前共有超過 220 個平台或技術開發商,例如電子報平台 Substack 等,提供各種服務與技術解決方案,讓創作者專心創作內容,直接帶動這幾年一人或微型媒體加速興起,例如英語電子報的 Stratechery (作者為居住在台灣的 Ben Thompson),或是中文電子報的《科技島讀》(好可惜將在 6 月停刊),都是一人媒體的代表,但在相關的科技與網路產業內,卻有不輸多數單一媒體的訂閱戶或影響力。

經營粉絲的 NFT 模式

和前兩個模式相比,NFT 模式的營收潛力最佳,因為它可彰顯每個內容不同的價值。在 NFT 模式下,營收來自粉絲的熱情支持,依據個人的喜好購買 NFT 商品,每一個 NFT 對每位粉絲來說,都有不同的價格,由價高者獲得。

衡量每個 NFT 的價值,技術並非主要考量,最重要的關鍵,在於發行者的 IP 或是 NFT 內所涵蓋的內容。好的內容來自有特殊的歷史意義、創新的表達方式、獨到的詮釋觀點與角度⋯⋯等各種面向,也因此,媒體用心製作的好內容,在 NFT 的模式下,將有更多元、更有效率的內容變現機會。

《連線》(Wired) 雜誌創辦人、科技趨勢思想家 Kevin Kelly 在 2008 年的經典文章「1,000 位鐵粉」(1,000 True Fans) 就預言:「成功的創作者,你不需要數百萬位客戶,你只需要 1,000 位鐵粉 (True Fans),這些鐵粉,會購買任何你創造的商品。」

對媒體來說,NFT 模式則將 Kevin Kelly 的預言更進一步實現,因為鐵粉有更方便、更實質的支持方式。以我個人為例,從小就愛閱讀雜誌、大學編校刊,從第一份工作開始投入雜誌與媒體工作 18 年,至今仍收藏許多雜誌,例如 911 事件、Michael Jackson 過世、Steve Jobs 過世、歐巴馬首度當選美國總統、Facebook 用戶突破 10 億人⋯⋯等重要歷史事件,我都會選擇我最信任的雜誌品牌,購買能提供我最權威、最具歷史意義觀點的當期雜誌來收藏,甚至會購買收藏特殊期數的復刻版;在雜誌工作時,也經常會有企業、受訪者或是教學單位,希望授權報導的文字內容、照片、資訊圖表 (通常收不到什麼錢)。在 NFT 模式下,這些行為都變得更有意義與價值,媒體有更具體的變現與獲利方式,收藏者手中具有歷史意義、特殊價值的媒體內容,也有了更客觀與便利的鑑價和割愛交易方式。

對 NFT 長線發展樂觀看待的兩個原因

為什麼我對 NFT 對於媒體產業未來的發展如此樂觀?來自中期與長期共兩個原因。

中期的原因,是各種區塊鏈應用快速進化的特質。至今,建構在區塊鏈技術上的加密貨幣資產,曾一度突破 2.5 兆美元,儘管價格乖離、波動劇烈,但並無損區塊鏈、加密貨幣資產價值長期向上的趨勢,而受限各國防洗錢、監管等規範,加密貨幣兌換各國法幣仍有諸多限制,實務上仍有許多不便之處,等於將這些加密貨幣資產「鎖」在區塊鏈的平行時空中。

這也間接為區塊鏈技術,提供了完美的快速疊代條件。任何區塊鏈上的創新應用,都有可能在加密貨幣的世界中快速獲得市場反饋、進入商業化應用,就如同進化論一般,多數遺世獨立的小島上,會在極短的時間內,演化出十分多樣性的獨特物種,就像過去幾年,區塊鏈這座島上,不論是比特幣、ICO、智能合約、DeFi 或現在的 NFT,每隔幾個月就會橫空出世新商業模式吸引大眾目光,NFT 能在不到 3 年的時間,創造可觀的關注與影響力,就是證明,而 NFT 對於媒體產生的革命,也會比 Internet 來得更快、更具巔覆力。

另一個長期的原因,則是區塊鏈以及 NFT 對於經濟與社會將帶來更深遠的影響。過往 30 年來,人類社會共經歷兩波大型的數位化遷徙浪潮,第一波是 Internet,將各種實體世界的資訊數位化;第二波則是區塊鏈,正在將各種實體世界的價值數位化。

在 Internet 的典範轉移下,誕生了電子商務,從最初將既有的實體零售,移轉到網路上。隨後再逐步發展出電商平台、垂直電商、廣告導購、社群電商、直播電商、行動電商、OMO 虛實融合等原生的商業模式,並產生了 24 小時隨時可購物、4 小時就到貨這些全新的使用行為;在區塊鏈的典範轉移下,NFT 就像是每一個獨一無二的商品,都能在區塊鏈的世界中取得對應的價格,目前出現的應用或商業模式,都仍屬於向下相容、傳統模式轉型,對照過往電商的發展,都還在非常早期的發展階段,隨著產業生態系更成熟,會有更多原生的應用和商業模式誕生。

在媒體產業歷經廣告模式、訂閱模式的探索與商業化後,更不該錯過 NFT 模式。NFT 不僅不會和前兩個模式產生衝突 (媒體的廣告和訂閱模式,在擴大流量與內容聚焦上,有許多衝突之處),需要砍掉重練才能切入,還能創造更大的營收來源,可用來招募更多優秀的記者、編輯、攝影、美術,製作更優質、更有意義、更值得被收藏的報導、照片、影片、資訊圖表等內容,而這些在 NFT 模式下,都是具有價值的內容資產。

這不僅適用於既有媒體的數位轉型,更有可能因此創造另一波新媒體創業熱潮,對數位轉型、經營挑戰皆不易的媒體產業來說,對於 NFT 帶來的難得契機,不僅不用妄自菲薄,更值得我們樂觀期待。

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