Prominent South Korean metaverse platform Zepeto is expanding into the blockchain space with its ZTX (ZepetoX) initiative, created in partnership with Jump Crypto—and today, ZTX announced a $13 million seed round led by its venture capital partner.
The Jump Crypto-led round includes other investors such as Collab+Currency, Parataxis, MZ Web3 Fund, Everest Ventures Group.
Valued at over $1 billion, the mobile-first Zepeto is billed as Asia’s largest “Web2” metaverse platform by active user metrics, and the fourth-largest metaverse platform globally behind the popular games Roblox, Fortnite, and Minecraft. Owned by Korean tech group Naver, Zepeto says that it has attracted over 400 million users since its launch in 2018.
With ZTX, Zepeto aims to help boost crypto adoption by introducing ownership to its 3D environments, with ZTX set to launch its inaugural Genesis Home Mint this month. The collection of 4,000 bespoke 3D houses—sold as NFTs on Ethereum scaling network Arbitrum—affords membership to one of its four districts, alongside access to future drops, events, and in-game enhancements.
Last month, ZTX introduced a private beta test of its upcoming platform and recently collaborated with Dust Labs—the firm that powers the NFT projects DeGods and y00ts—on a community-centric initiative called Partner Wearables, providing tools to IP holders to create 3D assets for use in the game.
In a statement, ZTX co-CEO Chris Jang emphasized the startup’s commitment to providing “an infrastructure layer for creators.” ZTX’s team includes senior alumni from Apple, Roblox, Epic Games, and EA, along with blockchain veterans who have built on Solana, Flow, and Cosmos.
Speaking to the Financial Times last fall, Naver Z business head Ricky Kang described Zepeto as “the first avatar-centric social network of its kind,” likening it to social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram.
Now Zepeto aims to parlay that success into the NFT world, putting it in competition with other metaverse platforms and games that have offered users virtual land—including The Sandbox, Decentraland, and Otherside.
Zepeto’s primary Web2 platform has pursued a license-based business model via strategic partnerships with fashion and entertainment brands, including fashion brands Gucci and AMI Paris, K-Pop girl group Blackpink, and coffee giant Starbucks.
Recently, Zepeto hosted an avatar version of Gucci’s Cruise runway show and let visitors purchase items from the virtual Gucci store. It also livestreamed the physical event.