Why I Invested: Mack Maine on investing in emoji and NFT startup Yat


Nearly everyone loves emojis for expressing themselves via text and instant messaging apps. And more recently, some techies are looking to monetize them.

Yat, cofounded by entrepreneur Naveen Jain, is the company behind a new type of online identity called “yats,” a unique combination of emojis that act as a custom emoji identity, domain, username, NFT, and collectible, all in one. Yats are touted to give users the ability to own their online identities independently from companies like Meta and Google. A one- to five-character design costs anywhere from $4 to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The shorter and more memorable the combination, the higher the price, typically. 

Nearly 160,000 yats have been sold for a combined $20 million since last February when the company launched. The highest price paid for a yat was $425,000 for the single-character key emoji.

Similar to the NFT wave earlier this year, Yat is attracting a number of celebrity investors and promoters. Among them is rapper and songwriter Mack Maine, who recently shared more with Fortune about his decision to invest in the company.

  • Startup: Yat
  • Location: Nashville
  • Year founded: 2021
  • Valuation: Declined to disclose
  • Investment level: Declined to disclose
  • Number of employees: 80
  • Other major investors: Blockchain Capital, Collab+Currency, G-Eazy, Hack VC, Lil Wayne, Slow Ventures, The Roots

Why he invested, in his own words

I got involved with Yat shortly after the launch in early 2021. I thought the concept was dope, and immediately locked down Yats for me, Lil Wayne, and Young Money. Everyone uses emojis to communicate, and this is a great way to use emojis to communicate who we are.

Over the years, we’ve established the brands of Young Money, Lil Wayne and Mack Maine. Yat is a great way of extending and reinforcing brand identities online where people can associate with our brands visually. Emojis help tell stories and there is no other way to communicate so much with just a few characters. 

Ownership is important for us, and we now own these emoji identities forever. That means a lot. Giving the power to all creators to have a self-expressive way to own and control their identities sold me on investing. On top of that, Yat is building incredible new tools for web3 creators and collectors.

This is an installment of Why I Invested, a series featuring famous investors from all different backgrounds and industries, revealing what inspired them to invest their own money in a new business.


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