Spotlight on Zebedee
Gaming and Payments Infrastructure
Who are Zebedee?
Zebedee are a New Jersey-based, US company whose business was born out of the gaming industry. Initially they provided payments infrastructure built on the Lightning Network to power gaming rewards, but subsequently found that there was demand for these APIs along with SDKs outside of the gaming space. The DEE in their name stands for “Digital Economy Engines” and their products are now enabling many types of businesses to leverage the Bitcoin and Lightning Network infrastructure as well as the open-source, censorship resistant Nostr protocol released in 2021, which allows users to port their followers across various clients (user interfaces).
Zebedee was co-founded by CTO André Neves, a systems developer and Bitcoin engineer, and two Brits: CEO Simon Cowell who has a financial services and investment background, and Christian Moss the Head of R&D and a game developer who was the first person to build a bitcoin-based rewards system into a video game. Notably, Zebedee also employs the developer of the Nostr protocol @fiatjaf whose focus is on creating FOSS (Free Open-Source Software), for Zebedee’s “No Big Deal” (NBD) division, allowing Zebedee to give back to the community.
CTO Neves became hooked on Bitcoin due to its usability as a payment network. He discovered Chaincode Labs founded by Hudson River Trading’s co-founders and participated in their residency program for the Lightning Network in 2018. This cohort also included Rene Pickard, one of the authors of “Mastering the Lightning Network” and Jack Mallers, founder and CEO of Strike.
Neves became convinced that Lightning would change everything, and took the leap to co-found his own company. Neves is also the creator of the Lightning Address. The presentation he gave on this protocol at MIT is available here.
As you would expect, the Zebedee app supports Lightning Addresses, you can find ours at the bottom of this article. Feel free to send a tip!
Given the global gaming market is expected to reach $256.97 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 9.17% from 2020 to 2025, and the global payments industry is predicted to generate $3 trillion by 2026 the market potential is significant. With the rise of Bitcoin and the applications for its associated technologies, the TAM for Zebedee as an infrastructure provider across multiple categories of global businesses is extremely promising.
Other gaming companies, often seen as competitors, hold great potential as customers. It's exciting to envision these companies breaking free from their outdated, restricted tokenised gaming setups. Instead, they should gravitate towards a revolutionary system like Zebedee's, which provides a seamless plug-and-play payments network, rewards that can be used across platforms, and access to a vast open-source community of users. Together, these remarkable features create an unparalleled user experience, setting the stage for effortless onboarding and growth for any company. Embracing Zebedee's system is a clear path to unlock extraordinary opportunities in the gaming industry.
Zebedee is frequently categorised as a gaming company, but their core products are actually APIs for B2B and B2C. Their services focus on four key areas: Gaming, Fintech, Adtech & Rewards, and Social. The real-money player rewards (powered by the Lightning Network) that are woven into their gaming customer’s apps have been shown to increase 30 day retention by 1200%. In the social realm, they allow for the attachment of real-world value to social interactions. This innovative combination of gaming, social media, and bitcoin transactions is unique, making their product a notable offering in the market.
The big news covered recently in Forbes is that Zebedee has moved its ZBD application to Nostr, the open-source protocol that has received financial backing from Jack Dorsey, former CEO of Twitter. Nostr allows users to own their network and port it from one ‘client’ to another. This gives Zebedee the opportunity to grow their user base by connecting with 18 million registered Nostr users, but they are also exiting their walled garden which opens them up to competition.
Fearlessly disregarding the loss of control over their user base, they are forging ahead, developing comprehensive toolkits that empower developers to create cutting-edge apps directly on Nostr. These apps will seamlessly integrate with Zebedee, embracing the true essence of Bitcoin and the principles of open, decentralised communities. This audacious strategy is poised to attract a wave of new users.
Fountain - One of their initial customers was the Fountain App, which offers a unique feature allowing listeners to stream micro-payments to podcasters in real time. This service represents a significant shift in the relationship between creators and content consumers, enabling creators to monetise their audience directly without relying on a third-party payment provider. It's a remarkable development that opens up new possibilities for creators to generate income and establish closer connections with their listeners.
Zebedee has raised $46.5 million in funding as a private company, with Kingsway Capital as the lead investor in the latest Series B round. According to the recent article in Forbes the company now has 72 employees and is working with 220 developers. While specific revenue figures aren't disclosed, Zebedee is conducting "tens of millions" of transactions per month, indicating a high level of activity and potential revenue generation.
Given Zebedee’s innovative niche and market potential, they may be an attractive acquisition target for larger players in the gaming, blockchain and Big Tech sectors at a future date.
Zebedee faces two primary risks: the inherent volatility of cryptocurrencies and the regulatory uncertainties surrounding them. However, being a US-based company with a distributed team, they have the flexibility to easily adapt to changing regulatory landscapes by relocating if necessary. The gaming industry is highly competitive, and the open-source nature of Nostr and Bitcoin allows other companies to potentially enter the market with similar products. Nevertheless, Zebedee remains undeterred and continues to forge ahead with remarkable innovation, driven by a core team comprising some of the most talented individuals in the Bitcoin realm. As a result, Zebedee emerges as one of the key players to closely monitor in the dynamic world of Bitcoin.
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