B.C. can thank non-fungible token (NFT) trailblazer Dapper Labs Inc. for making the province the No. 1 hot spot for venture capital in the first quarter of 2021, according to a new report from CPE Analytics.
Venture-backed companies based on the West Coast raised a total of $1.2 billion across 57 financings in Q1, nearly propelling the province past the combined total of $1.24 billion raised during that same period in both Ontario and Quebec.
That giant gulf between B.C. and the two largest provincial economies can be explained by Vancouver-based Dapper Labs, which raised US$305 million ($368 million) back in March.
Tuesday's report from CPE Analytics explains that while the $515-million financing round for fraud detection firm Verafin exceeded that of Dapper Labs, the former’s 2019 financing was a mix of private equity and debt financing.
That makes Dapper Labs’ US$305-million raise the largest venture capital deal in Canadian history.
The West Coast company is best known for its online marketplace known as NBA Top Shot that trades in digital collectibles, such as video highlights, that come with NFTs.
Backed by blockchain technology, NFTs function as a certification of ownership for digital assets.
The US$305-million raise included investments from NBA legends such as Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant and Kyle Lowry, as well as rapper 2 Chainz and actor Ashton Kutcher.
So far NBA Top Shot has facilitated the sale of more than US$500 million in collectibles among at least 338,000 customers since its launch late last year.
Meanwhile, the CPE Analytics report noted American investors accounted for 55% of all disbursements in B.C. compared with 61% in Ontario and 56% in Quebec.
Vancouver was the only city that secured more than $1 billion in Q1 — again, a factor that Dapper Labs played a part in.
The province’s life sciences sector was pretty much neck and neck with the digital tech sector, with the former raising $424 million compared with $453 million for the latter.