Check out Orbit 6 Demo Day in Dubai
Back to news articles
Zebra Labs raises $5M to help Chinese celebrities enter the metaverse
Orbit Startups Team
Image Credits: Wowkie Zhang’s collaboration with a virtual character in his music video. Screenshot: TechCrunch

In June, Chinese pop-punk singer Wowkie Zhang released a music video where he encounters a virtual character in a hyper-colored, animated world that is reminiscent of Pixar films. The avatar, sporting Gen Z-styled silver hair, a yellow and black oversize sweat and baggy pants, makes hip-hop moves to Zhang’s catchy, light-hearted tune.

The virtual character isn’t a one-off creation; instead, Zebra Labs, which produced the video, is turning him into a piece of reusable intellectual property that can be bought as NFTs on marketplaces and appear in other virtual occasions like video games. The startup is waiting for the bull market to return to launch the NFT project, Scarlett Li, founder and CEO of Zebra Labs, tells TechCrunch.

The aim of Zebra Labs is to “create intellectual property that’s deeply integrated with content” and “run virtual idols like celebrities,” says Li. Some of the avatars it creates are based on real-life stars, while others are original characters. To generate revenues, Zebra Labs cultivates an audience for its idols through short films, images and social posts and in turn monetizes the fan base. It also licenses its virtual idols to partners for a fee.