Dear Shareholders and friends,
It is my great pleasure to announce the release of the FY2020 annual report for Animoca Brands, which sets us firmly on the path to being fully compliant with the financial disclosure obligations under the Corporations Act 2001.
We want to thank all of our shareholders for their patience. This report has suffered significant delays owing to many factors including in particular the COVID-19 pandemic, which severely impacted our capacity to integrate acquisitions into our blockchain/NFT strategy and locked down many of our employees across several countries around the world.
In addition to that and other global market challenges, it is also worth repeating that Animoca Brands is a unique business with hundreds of portfolio companies and with significant holdings in digital assets and digital asset-related businesses that themselves are quite new to — and pose significant challenges for — financial reporting and auditing. That daunting combination of structural complexity and novel businesses is why we firmly believe that the release of this report marks the establishment of a financial reporting framework.
At around a thousand employees, Animoca Brands today is a significantly larger organisation than it was in 2020, when we numbered less than 200 people. In October 2021 the Company appointed Evan Auyang as group president to drive a group-wide transformation programme. Under his leadership, Animoca Brands has recruited various outstanding senior managers to bolster the ranks of the Company’s executive team, including key appointments in Mergers & Acquisitions, Legal, Human Resources, Taxation, and Finance.
I would like to extend special thanks to our entire finance team, which operates under the capable leadership of Jared Shaw and John Madden, as well as our hard-working auditors at DFK Collins. The completion of this report lays the groundwork not just for our own further financial reporting, but also for how future companies similar in complexity and operations to Animoca Brands can account for their businesses.
With our focus on blockchain and digital asset revenues, accounting standards result in the Company deferring revenue on receipt of proceeds from customers and recognition in the profit or loss when we deliver our services (through users playing our digital games or experiencing our platforms). For the year 2020 our deferred revenue increased by 401.5% and which has further increased substantially (these numbers do not factor in any equity portfolio values for the April 2023 update report) in the years thereafter. We will, of course, continue to evolve our financial reporting in line with changes to accounting standards and under the guidance of our auditors.
Today, in 2023, it seems the entire world is talking about artificial intelligence, or AI. Starting back in October 2018, through our AI accelerator, Animoca Brands started investing in over 60 AI-related startups. Some of these startups’ products are being integrated into our efforts, both at the group level as well as across our portfolio companies.
Five years ago, we understood the implications not just of blockchain but also of AI, and particularly the potential synergy between these areas of technology. It goes beyond synergy — we believe the two are firmly intertwined. As AI becomes increasingly autonomous, we believe that the medium of exchange between AI agents will run most efficiently on blockchain and utilise cryptocurrency. Being a digitally native construct, AI will require a digitally native currency.
Some parts of our organisation are already seeing improvements of up to 80% in efficiency on product development that utilises AI, and we are very excited by the ways in which AI can accelerate different Web3 efforts in areas such as education and learning, gaming, fashion, sports, and all the other forms of digital identity and culture addressed by Animoca Brands.
The Company is now considered a global leader on NFTs, the open metaverse, and digital property rights. It is the recipient of several prestigious accolades including Deloitte Tech Fast, the Fortune Crypto 40, and the Financial Times’ High Growth Companies Asia-Pacific. Animoca Brands may well be the best-connected company in the Web3 space: we have over 15 subsidiaries involved in Web3, four joint ventures, approximately 400 Web3 portfolio companies, a fund focused on venture stage companies, and various high-profile metaverse partners, including Yuga Labs, Immutable, Polygon, Cool Cats, and Dapper Labs.
Our subsidiary The Sandbox has achieved global recognition and maintains relationships with over 400 brands including Snoop Dogg, Adidas, Gucci, HSBC, PwC, Warner Music Group, Ubisoft, and many more. The Sandbox was even named one of the TIME100 Most Influential Companies of 2022.
Animoca Brands’ new initiatives, such as our subsidiary TinyTap catapulting education into the realm of Web3, showcase our commitment to leverage technology in order to explore and innovate in exciting new areas.
2022 was a trying year with major market events such as Terra Luna and FTX that imposed harsh demands on our team all over the world. On behalf of the board of directors and our management team, I extend the deepest gratitude to all team members for their significant contributions and perseverance, which enabled Animoca Brands to weather one of the deepest crises the industry has ever faced.
As the famous aphorism says, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Animoca Brands has emerged from the sector challenges last year as an international leader in a unique position to drive the global Web3 industry. Despite various shocks, Web3 remains poised for growth. The open metaverse — the metaverse of true digital ownership — is alive and well. During 2022, which devolved into a frighteningly bearish market, NFT sales still generated over US$24 billion. Just in the first quarter of 2023, NFT sales generated nearly US$5 billion. The excitement and energy in our space are palpable.
Recent updates to the regulatory frameworks in Animoca Brands’ main places of operations, such as Hong Kong, Japan, and the European Union, all suggest that these territories understand the relevance and importance of Web3 and are keen to create environments in which Web3 ventures will thrive. That means that, in addition to its market leadership through its investments and operations, Animoca Brands has now gained a geographical advantage as well. I am particularly encouraged by how Hong Kong, where the Company is headquartered, has opened up to Web3 and started to build a framework with the aim to become the digital assets financial centre of the world.
We could not be more excited about the future of Web3 and the open metaverse, and we are deeply appreciative of the patience and support of everyone in the Animoca Brands family: shareholders, team members, and group and portfolio companies.
Co-founder and Chairman