Blur’s stance on royalties is ‘insulting,’ Animoca Brands Chairman Yat Siu says

Quick Take

  • NFT marketplaces that cut out royalties from their fee structures are “insulting” to creators, Animoca Brands Chairman Yat Siu told The Block in an interview at NFT Paris. 
  • He also said the firm’s next fund is due to close this quarter. 

Animoca Brands Chairman Yat Siu has a message for marketplaces: if you care about the health of the web3 ecosystem, you should stand behind creator royalties.  

The remarks, made in an interview at NFT Paris, follow a prolonged debate about the correct model for remunerating artists and creators in crypto. Last week, Blur, the NFT marketplace targeting pro traders, set its royalty fee — the levy paid back to creators on on-going sales of NFTs — at 0.5%. In response, OpenSea dropped its 2.5% fee to zero for a limited time. 

Animoca Brands is one of the most prolific investors in the space, having backed more than 380 web3-focused companies, according to Siu. Many of the companies the powerhouse invests in have a particular interest in making royalties work as a revenue stream. 

Siu’s feeling is that artists and NFT creators should be the ones in charge of their own destiny, with the ability to set terms without seeking permission from bigger players. 

“The reality is that creating allow lists, or block lists, is the beginning of centralisation — it’s the beginning of creating permissions,” Siu told The Block. “And there’s nothing wrong with thinking about permissions if you are the creator of it.” 

Not rewarding creators for their content but rather rewarding traders that create liquidity, as Blur does, is “kind of insulting” otherwise, he said. “It’s an infringement and it’s also rude.” 

Ultimately, Siu believes the next bull run will be “driven by culture,” and without royalties to feed back into companies and creators making the products which define the ecosystem, it will falter.  

Raising and deploying in a bear market 

Asked about ongoing efforts to raise money for Animoca's latest fund, which will look to back later-stage companies, Siu said he thinks it will close in the first quarter, with a "number of different" parties involved.  

The investment shop — one of the biggest backers in crypto — had originally looked to raise up to $2 billion for a metaverse-focused fund, but scaled back ambitions by around half following the November collapse of FTX. In January, Siu told Bloomberg the fund would look to close at around $1 billion. 

Siu is confident that the company’s accounts, which it was granted an extension for filing at the end of last year, will be available in March. 

Meanwhile, there is already deal flow coming in with “significant investments” on the horizon, alongside the sometimes “three or four deals a week” that have been filtering through the financing powerhouse. 

“We have big conviction in the space. Valuations are lower, builders are better. If you can survive FTX you can survive anything,” he said, adding “To me this is a good time to invest. The founders who are still around are believers.” 

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