How is Lucid founder investing proceeds of $ 1B sale? Dungeons & Dragons and a blockchain crusade, for starters | Business News

Patrick Comer, who sold his market research company, Lucid, for over $ 1 billion last year, says it was an early love of Dungeons & Dragons that led him to his latest investment in a New Orleans startup called Gripnr, which marries the fantasy roleplay game to his latest obsession: blockchain technology.

Comer says blockchain, which is much talked about but little understood, will be the next tech wave to spawn behemoths like Amazon and Facebook. He says New Orleans should not miss out as it did in the first internet wave.

“We went through the same kind of digital transformation from 1995 to 2000, with a similar vibe, a lot of money coming into space, and a lot of confusion about what it all meant,” he said in an interview to announce the Gripnr stake.

It’s the blockchain, stupid

New Orleans did not see any real internet-based businesses coming off that first wave until the mid-2000s, he said. After more than a decade creating an ecosystem in the city to support tech businesses, Comer says there’s no excuse this time around: “The only way you can mess up is to not get involved.”

His blockchain crusade will soon have a physical base of operations in the old Eiffel Building on St. Charles Street, which was constructed in the 1980s from parts harvested by a local entrepreneur from a restaurant that was once part of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Comer is part of a group of several hundred that includes local tech entrepreneurs-made-good, financiers, artists, musicians, and other civic boosters, who are joining the Nieux Society, a new blockchain-focused initiative by Tim Williamson, former CEO of Idea Village.

The club will launch formally in a few weeks with the sale of 504 founding memberships in the form of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, and it will occupy the 12,500 square foot Eiffel Building premises. Big Fredia and the jazz-funk band Galactic have created a song for the club’s launch and they will be included among the inaugural members, as will writer and historian Walter Isaacson.

Williamson describes the concept of Nieux Society as a place where entrepreneurs, investors, artists and musicians can meet to share ideas and find backers for blockchain-related projects like Gripnr.

“It’s a physical space where people looking to connect with this new technology and get financially rewarded can meet, while also thinking how the city can be a forward-looking part of its development,” Williamson said.

Comer admits that the new technology can be baffling to the uninitiated.

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Blockchain is best known for facilitating fungible currencies like Bitcoin, which are uniform and tradeable units that are secured on the cloud. NFTs, by contrast, are unique individual items stored on the cloud. It is as significant a development in creating a new type of marketplace as the first internet wave, Comer reckons. But it similarly will take time to see just how, he adds.

Let the games commence

The Gripnr platform, for example, will create a gallery of 10,000 individually drawn characters with characteristics such as their own ancestry and skills. The idea is to enhance the experience of Dungeons & Dragons, a strategy board game which spawned an entire industry of tabletop and online role-playing fantasy games since its creation a half-century ago. It has a committed following of players around the world.

The NFTs will allow the owners to store their gameplay histories and that could potentially grow in value over time.

Investors in Gripnr joining Comer in the initial $ 2.5 million round include musician and entrepreneur Brent McCrossen, who will be the company’s CEO. Kyle Mortensen, a musician and advertising creative director will be Gripnr’s creative director. Dungeons & Dragons game creator and former Wizards of the Coast game developer Stephen Radney-MacFarland, also is an investor.

Gripnr plans to launch its first game, “The Glimmering,” in May.

“Gripnr was created to support the players, game masters, artists, and game designers that have made (tabletop roleplaying games) for the last 50 years,” said McCrossen in a release announcing the funding. “We are focused on building an active, respectful, and super awesome community of tabletop gaming fans and NFT collectors who want to join our vision of bringing (5th edition) gameplay to the blockchain,” he said.

As well as the local angel investors, other investors included XBTO Humla Ventures, a prominent Web3 venture fund, Sopris Capital, Voodoo Ventures, Better Angels, Abstraction Ventures, and Carl Sparks, Managing Partner of Interlock.

Gaming has been a focus of economic development agencies like GNO Inc. and Louisiana Economic Development looking to attract tech companies to the area. The decision last year by Jeff Strain, a big name in video game development, to start his latest business in New Orleans was seen as a milestone for the sector’s development.

“Gripnr is laying the foundation … (and) will be a seminal product” in the blockchain wave of gaming development, as it facilitates the development of other games based on their platform, said Michael Hecht.

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