Within every era of technology, the most talented entrepreneurs have taken unsolved problems and open questions and turned them into businesses.
In the early 2000s, the biggest open questions were social: how do you take a read-only interface and allow people to write to it, making it interactive and personal? In the 2010s, the possibility space opened up as mobile proliferation grew: suddenly, the questions were around what you could do when everyone had a device you could use to communicate, make micropayments, and play games.
Today, we have two new computing technologies reaching production scale: AI and crypto. We’re already seeing some of the most talented entrepreneurs in the world beginning to explore what can be unlocked when you use the two technologies.
That’s why we’re thrilled to announce our investment in PLAI Labs, founded by Chris DeWolfe and Aber Whitcomb, technology veterans who previously were the founders of both the social media platform MySpace and the game studio Jam City.
MySpace, founded in 2003, was one of the first social networks to reach a global audience of millions of users. Jam City is best known for mobile games like Cookie Jam, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, and Disney Emoji Blitz. With over 30 million monthly active users, billions of downloads, they’re one of the most successful game studios in the industry.
Chris and Aber have been at the forefront of past eras of technology, and now they are laser-focused on the future.
PLAI Labs, Chris and Aber’s new venture, is focused on building the next generation of social platforms leveraging AI and web3. With their shared experience in social media, game design, and technology they are creating a new platform for users to play, talk, battle, trade, and adventure together.
Their first entertainment experience is a game built on the platform, Champions Ascension, a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) where players can port in their existing non-fungible token (NFTs) characters, go on quests, trade items, fight in the colosseum, build their own custom dungeons and more. They’re also building an AI protocol platform which will help with everything from user generated content (UGC) to matchmaking to 2D to 3D asset rendering.
We believe that the future of social networks begins with games, and the best games have strong communities, enticing core gameplay, and robust meta-progression systems that together define how players interact and socialize with each other. Web3 games in particular have the opportunity to create the decentralized metaverse of the future with their distributed infrastructure and focus on empowering players through asset ownership. Chris, Aber, and their team are one of the best equipped to go after that opportunity.
We’re excited to support their team going forward, and you can see a preview of what they’re building here: https://www.champions.io/
Arianna Simpson is a General Partner at a16z crypto (@AriannaSimpson on X).
Andrew Chen is a General Partner for A16Z GAMES, focused on the intersection of tech and gaming — this includes AI, studios, infrastructure, and consumer apps.
Robin Guo is a partner on the A16Z GAMES team at Andreessen Horowitz, where he focuses on web2 and web3 studios, games adtech, AI applications, and the intersection of healthcare and games.