In early 2018, during a late game night, our co-founders Mani, Idan, and Dirk found themselves at the intersection of innovation and imagination. The digital collectibles craze, powered by non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on blockchain technology, had just taken the world by storm, exemplified by the likes of CryptoKitties. As they rolled the dice and contemplated the possibilities, a vision inspired by monopoly and the introduction of true ownership began to take shape.
"What if we could tokenize the real world using the same technology that's revolutionizing digital collectibles?" they wondered. "What if every property on Earth could become a unique, non-fungible asset verified by blockchain? Imagine trading virtual properties tied to real-world addresses, properties you actually own.
"And thus, Upland was born. From that moment on, the co-founders met almost every day, tirelessly planning, refining, and developing their vision. Upland wasn't just about gaming; it was about creating a metaverse where people could play, socialize, and even earn a living. It was a true digital open economy, seamlessly blending the real and virtual worlds, and, importantly, designed to be accessible to everyone, regardless of their technical expertise.
The search for the right blockchain to turn their vision into reality led them to EOS, developed by Block.One. With the pieces falling into place, Uplandme, Inc. was officially incorporated in July 2018. A seed round, backed by angel investors and FinLab AG from Germany, provided the necessary resources, and coding efforts kicked into high gear in December 2018. By June 2019, the closed beta was introduced to the first eager users, and since January 2020, Upland's open beta has been live and accessible across platforms, including web, iOS, and Android.
The year 2020 was a milestone year for Upland. The mintable cities of Fresno and NYC opened their doors, expanding our virtual world. A game-changing partnership with Tilia Inc. allowed users to sell properties for USD, bringing real-world value to our virtual realm.
By June of 2021, Upland saw rapid growth which earned a major milestone of 1M NFTs sold, 10 major city openings (Brooklyn, Oakland, Bakersfield, Staten Island, Cleveland, Chicago, Kansas City, Rutherford, New Orleans, and the Bronx), $1M in player earnings, and a Series A Fundraise. Additionally, the platform added the introduction of Legits, a new suite of digital assets designed to enable brand, personalities, and organizations to extend their real-life presence into the Upland metaverse and beyond. This banner year ended on a high note with a lot of momentum in empowering users to be entrepreneurial in creating Metaventures, player-owned businesses that now exist all over the Upland map.
January 2022 kicked off with a bang and a record-breaking city release, Los Angeles, which drove momentum through two more city releases in the first quarter - Queens and Detroit. Upland players then launched their own game-related services in order to augment in-game exchanges and secondary market activity supported by a new in-game peer to peer UPX transfer feature. A new category of UGC also became available with the Master Builder’s Contest allowing players to design UGC structure models unique to each city. By the 2nd quarter, Genesis Week exploded in Las Vegas with the first live city release that brought Sin City to the metaverse. Another first, we launched our first hackathon along with a robust set of tools to empower developers to build the next generation of tools and applications. Genesis Week concluded with a mega announcement, our first international city opening. Rio de Janeiro opened in July of 2022 and the Brazilian community exploded with growth, which required an expansion of the city the very next month. Porto, Portugal shortly followed along with preparation for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ - a massive partnership and one of the most innovative and interactive fan experiences for the Upland community.
2023 - the year of Upland as the Metaverse Super App, which was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland in January. As a Metaverse Super App, our mission to build the world’s largest open digital economy helped prioritize everything that empowers the entire Upland ecosystem to build value in the form of businesses, services, tools, games, experiences, cafes, wearables, UGC, and more. The heart of all value creation in Upland is Spark, the in-game utility resource required to build on Upland. By Q3, Upland presented a White Paper to potentially make Sparklet tradable, for the first time, outside the Upland platform on Ethereum via a Token Tradability Event.