• Andy Marston

Dapper Labs acquires Brud, the maker of virtual influencers

The NFT startup behind NBA Topshot has purchased Brud, a 'virtual influencer' developer best known for their creation of Miquela - an Instagram model/ robot, but not for the reasons you'd expect...

It was reported earlier this month that Dapper Labs, the NFT startup behind NBA Top Shot, has purchased virtual influencer startup Brud and will be bringing the entire 32-person team aboard.

Brud is best-known as the developer of Miquela — a computer-animated character with more than three million followers on Instagram — serving as a “virtual influencer” on the platform. The startup has also spawned several other players in the space who have lived fictionalised lives on Instagram.

However, virtual influencers haven’t seen much interest from investors since they first exploded onto the scene in mid-2010’s. Therefore it comes as quite a surprise to see Dapper suddenly swoop in for the company.

What could an NFT startup like Dapper want with a company making virtual influencers?

Their CEO and founder, Trevor McFedries, apparently. The former DJ, producer, and director has increased his focus in the “crypto world” and shifted Brud's focus more toward collective decision-making through decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs).

If you’re wondering what a DAO is, they are loosely defined as online communities with horizontal ownership structures based on tokens. They are organised around a mission that coordinates through a shared set of rules enforced on a blockchain. Put it simply, DAOs are a new way to finance projects, govern communities, and share value. Thanks to their cryptographic mechanisms, they can also create a greater distribution of wealth by incentivising people in a more thoughtful way than current media platforms allow (e.g., the top 1% of all streamers earn more than half of all revenue on Twitch). McFedries is already the co-founder of one of the more popular DAOs called “Friends with Benefits” and he will now lead a division inside Dapper Labs called Dapper Collectives focused on making DAOs more user friendly and accessible to a new generation of crypto web users while leveraging the company’s Flow blockchain.

📚 Further Reading


  • How Creator DAOs redefine the way we work - Forefront

  • Dapper Labs took NFTs mainstream, now it wants to do the same for DAOs - Decrypt

  • DAOs are taking over, with new Wyoming law - Benzinga

Creator Economy

  • The Creator Economy is failing to spread the wealth - Axios

  • Chingari launches social Token and NFT marketplace - Inc42

  • Afterparty enables creators to launch their own NFTs and social tokens - Venture Beat