Founders of short-lived NFT investing game Visionrare raise $1.5 million for web3 job network: Exclusive

Quick Take

  • The founders of Visionrare, a short-lived NFT game for “fantasy startup investing,” raised $1.5 million in funding for Job Protocol, a decentralized recruitment network. 
  • Tioga Capital led the round, with Portal Ventures and Syndicate One, an angel network, also participating.
  • Job Protocol allows companies to offer bounties to fill roles. These are paid in USDC and have so far gone up to $25,000. 

The founders of a short-lived NFT marketplace for "fantasy startup investing" raised $1.5 million in funding for Job Protocol, a new decentralized recruitment network. 

Buoyed by the highs of 2021's bull market, Jacob Claerhout and Boris Gordts launched Visionrare in October last year. The platform aimed to allow users to buy fake shares — represented by NFTs — of real-life startups such as OpenSea, Deel and Multis. 

Visionrare didn't last long, shutting down within 24 hours of its open beta going live, amid questions over whether the platform was offering securities. During this period, the Europe-based founders said they received a call from U.S. regulators, which helped them understand some of the regulatory and legal hurdles the pair would need to clear if they pursued the project further. 

"Upon launching, we learned that the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) highly frowned upon what we were doing," Claerhout said in an interview with The Block. "We realized it's going to be as costly and time-consuming to get the regulatory approvals to be able to launch this as a game than it would be to launch a real startup equity tokenization platform."  

The two founders see the ordeal as a learning experience that proved they could work together under pressure, noting that it's part of the role of a founder to try new things and move on if they don't stick.

Everybody makes mistakes

But not every founder stages failed experiments so publicly. Even Bloomberg's Matt Levine weighed in on the startup's troubles in his column Money Stuff. 

After refunding all their users and ultimately canning plans to make Visionrare free-to-play, the two launched Job Protocol in April. And thanks to a pre-seed round led by Tioga Capital, Job Protocol is valued at $7.5 million, said the founders. The eleven-month-old Portal Ventures and Syndicate One, an angel network, also participated in the funding round.

Job Protocol allows companies to list bounties for filling open roles, ranging from web3 full stack engineer at Multis, to VP of Technology at BNB Chain Labs. Bounties are paid in USDC to anybody that refers a successful candidate, with the largest available on the website currently listed at $25,000. The full bounty is only sent after the candidate stays in their role for more than 90 days. 

Much like their previous project, it's ambitious in that it aims to do away with the need for in-house recruiters — a classic 'cut out the middleman' approach. 

Unperturbed by the crypto downturn, Claerhout said that he sees an opportunity in the recent layoffs sweeping crypto, with smaller companies without in-house recruiters still increasing hiring. So far, Job Protocol has helped fill 15 roles at companies such as AllianceDAO, Footium and Superfluid.

With the funding, the company itself plans to hire engineers and operational managers to build systems that reward recruiters and companies for introducing Job Protocol to others. It's also seeking to integrate with either a Layer 2 solution on Ethereum or the Cosmos ecosystem. 

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