MELON, Metaverse Brand Experience Experts, Raises $5M Seed Round20 July 2022 - Press release
Investors from music, gaming, media, sports, and biotech unite to fund the metaverse powerhouse studio behind experiences for the NFL, Chipotle, and top music artists on Roblox
MELON is announcing a $5M seed round. The game development team is behind numerous major music events on Roblox, as well as experiences for partners and clients including the NFL, Chipotle, Mattel, Clarks, and PacSun.
The seed round includes Crush Ventures, the investment arm of Crush Music whose management clients include Miley Cyrus, Sia, Green Day, Lorde, Weezer, Panic! at the Disco, and Fall Out Boy, as well as Gaingels, Comcast Spectacor, and a large SPV led by Matt Finick who has also joined MELON's board. Finick was formerly CFO at Roblox and at Marvel Entertainment.
The round also includes notable strategic angels such as Paul Yook, health tech pioneer; Deborah Dugan, CEO of Beyond Type 1 and, former CEO of Product (RED) and The Recording Academy of Music; Spencer Baim, Chief Brand Officer at Kinship, former CCO of VICE Media; Ernie Pomeranz, former CFO of Moderna; Jason Ve, Head of BD/Brand Partnerships at 88rising; and Gene Salomon, partner at leading entertainment law firm Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown & Passman.
"At Comcast Spectacor, we're always looking for new ways to engage fans with great events and memorable experiences, and that's what this investment is all about," says Tucker Roberts, President of Spectacor Gaming, a gaming and entertainment company connected to Comcast NBCUniversal. "MELON is on the cutting edge of bringing experiences directly to where Gen Z lives–their phones–and we're looking forward to the continued innovations that Josh and his incredible team will make at MELON."
"MELON is at the forefront of the creative explosion happening in the metaverse," notes investor/board member Matt Finick. "They are perfectly positioned to build some of the most impactful experiences across music, film and TV, fashion, and sports over the next few years of critical growth on these developing platforms."
"We're extremely fortunate to have such a strong collective of early strategic investors in MELON," explains Josh Neuman, co-founder/co-CEO of MELON. "The Metaverse and platforms within it are ripe for disruption and we're looking forward to evolving our creativity and storytelling in collaboration with our partners, as well as via our original IP. With this group, we're going to be able to strategize and navigate the evolving landscape at the highest level."
Neuman's extensive experience at the intersection of media, brands, pop culture, and technology reflects the expertise that has allowed MELON to set the standard for activations and events in Roblox. Before becoming MELON's co-CEO in 2021, he was a co-founder and key executive of several multi-million dollar music media, branding, and talent companies, including 88rising, Recreation Worldwide (acquired by VICE Media), Control Management (former management of superstar DJ, Tiësto), and Crush Music. He architected a multifaceted partnership between Red Bull and Skrillex, landed Kanye West for Samsung's launch of the Galaxy Note II, and worked closely with Bono's Product (RED).
Neuman's cultural savvy and branding experience complement the extensive gaming and development know-how of company founder/co-CEO Devon Thome. A wunderkind in his mid-20s, Thome has been creating jaw-dropping experiences and innovation in open-world and metaverse environments for years. He made a name for himself in Minecraft before mastering the art of creating games in Roblox, where most of MELON's work is currently focused.
They lead a team at MELON that has attracted talent from major game studios (EA, Pokémon GO) and lifestyle brands (Urban Outfitters, Marketing Arm, Honda's former agency of record).
Award-winning executive producer and marketing mastermind Heather Healy is MELON's SVP of Partnerships and Operations, with nearly two decades of experience running high-profile campaigns. Healy helped launch the careers of Bruno Mars and Foster the People and developed award-winning marketing campaigns and strategic partnerships for Fortune 100 brands. MELON's VP of Entertainment Partnerships Becky Wilson previously worked at Urban Outfitters where she led key music initiatives, including in-store events, collaborations, and partnerships with notable artists such as Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, SZA, Khalid and LANY.
MELON's multifaceted team has honed a keen sense for what works in the metaverse, and brands have taken note. In addition, MELON has perfected the art of virtual music events, working with major labels and attracting millions of visitors to events for Tai Verdes, Ava Max, KSI and Zara Larsson. Larsson's event won the studio a Clio this year.
"Crush Ventures looks to invest in teams that are building the future of how creators and fans will interact. Josh, Devon, and the MELON team have proven to be uniquely capable of building one-of-a-kind games and experiences. We're thrilled to invest in and partner with MELON as we explore opportunities together for Crush's talent in the metaverse," notes Andrew Kahn, Head of Crush Ventures.