Mark Cuban invests in firm creating AI NFTs that talk

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Mark Cuban is among a slew of investors taking a stake in Alethea AI, a Singapore-based startup that’s creating “intelligent” versions of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens.

The company announced Wednesday that it raised $16 million through a private and restricted token sale, a kind of fundraising tool used by blockchain-based companies like those in the crypto space.

Alethea seeks to distinguish its NFTs by allowing users to embed AI animation, interaction, and voice synthesis capabilities into the digital art — enabling people to even converse with NFTs.

“Give your NFT Superpowers,” the firm’s website advertises.

NFTs are digital assets that represent ownership of virtual items like computerized art and sports highlights.

“While NFTs have continued to be exciting for collectors, Alethea AI has managed to uniquely combine AI Powered Avatars that are secured on-chain as NFTs,” Cuban said in a statement. “The result is not only fun and entertaining, but the foundation for a level of interactivity that is going to advance quickly using Alethea’s technologies.”

Alethea allows users to embed AI animation, interaction, and voice synthesis capabilities into the digital art.

In its latest funding effort, Alethea drew some other big-name investors, too, including Metapurse — whose founder famously paid more than $69 million earlier this year for the first NFT to be sold by auction house Christie’s.

Alethea began to see some success this summer tapping into the continues explosion of interest in NFTs. The firm sold one intelligent NFT, or iNFT, for $478,000 at a Sotheby’s auction in June.

Prior to the June sale, that iNFT, named “Alice,” starred in a Twitter live video during which it answered questions from viewers in real-time, although many of its answers were simply, “I don’t know,” or, “I’m sorry.”

Alethea CEO Arif Khan told Bloomberg that the company will use the proceeds from the sale to maintain and upgrade its current services.

Potential future projects, he added, is giving a CryptoPunk, a famously expensive collection of 10,000 NFTs, the ability to rap.

The latest fundraising round comes as the NFT market soars in popularity, with various multi-million dollar sales.

NFT logo.
The NFT market has soared in popularity, with $2.5 billion in sales the first half of 2021.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

The market saw $2.5 billion in sales in the first six months of 2021, up from just $13.7 million in the first half of 2020.

Sales aren’t slowing down, with the market seeing nearly $2 billion in transactions so far just this month, according to OpenSea, the largest NFT trading platform.

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