6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: Pudgy Penguins and Cryptoys make headlines, plus news from 1909, Hut 8 Mining, Doroni Aerospace & more


Pudgy Penguins soon will enter gaming space

 Pudgy Penguins, the brand behind a popular NFT and physical toy collection, announced the upcoming global alpha launch of Pudgy World, a multiplayer game that will introduce two hero characters, Pudgy and Peaches [pictured below]. The Art Week announcement marks Pudgy Penguins’ entry into the gaming space as the first-ever Web3 game with digital and physical collectibles, the company said.

Powered by zkSync Era, Pudgy World is an immersive, digital environment accessible to Pudgy Penguins NFT holders, Pudgy Toy owners and gamers. According to the company, players will be able to explore an open world, customize their penguin characters, embark on a story-driven journey interacting with friends along the way. The alpha launch is planned for Q1 of 2024.

“Blockchain technology has historically been a B2B mdel, whereas Pudgy Penguins is direct-to-consumer retail, which reaches a considerably larger audience. The alpha launch of Pudgy World is a massive step forward for the Web3 and NFT space because Pudgy Penguin owners will be playing with their Pudgy Toys, without any pre-existing knowledge of the blockchain technology it is built on,” said Luca Netz, founder and CEO of Pudgy Penguins, in the announcement.

Earlier this year, Pudgy Penguins launched Pudgy Toys, a toy line inspired by the Pudgy Penguins NFT collection that gives royalties to NFT holders. Each toy comes with a QR code that can unlock unique traits inside of Pudgy World. Pudgy Penguins inked a deal for the physical toys to be sold in some 2,000 Walmart stores across the U.S.

At the Art Week event Saturday evening, Netz announced the upcoming launch of Pudgy World that was accompanied by a video that introduced the new quests, neighborhoods and characters. Attendees also got to demo the upcoming game. “Pudgy Penguin fans have long been waiting for more ways to interact with their characters,” Netz said. “We look forward to seeing everyone’s characters come to life in Pudgy World.”

READ MORE: Meet the 25-year-old entrepreneur out to transform brand ownership with NFTs


Cryptoys partners with big Japanese brand for major expansion

Cryptoys, the digital toy platform developed by Miami startup OnChain Studios, has partnered with Animoca Brands Japan to deliver a new toy experience to Japanese collectors.

Cryptoys are high-quality digital toys that combine toys and entertainment to create an expansive entertainment universe for collectors, redefining the way we think about the word “play”. Cryptoys have their own line of characters known as Zoo-F-O Escape, as well as beloved characters from Star Wars, Mickey and Friends, and Masters of the Universe, all offering collectors a next-generation experience regardless of age.

Animoca Brands Japan and Apas Port, as partners in Japan, will develop various activities to promote and communicate the appeal of this new form of experience.

“We’ve seen tremendous interest in Cryptoys from Japan and throughout the region overall. Through this partnership, we’re excited to expand the Cryptoys brand into Japan and connect with collectors directly. We have many new activations launching in the coming months, and we can’t wait to introduce those to Japanese collectors,” said Will Weinraub, CEO of OnChain Studios, in the announcement.

Animoca Brands Japan CEO Daisuke Iwase, added: “We are delighted that, together with our partners, Animoca Brands has the opportunity to introduce the attractiveness of web3 through digital toys featuring characters widely loved in Japan.”

READ MORE: Miami web3 is dead! Long live Miami web3! A Refresh Miami special report


West Palm Beach incubator 1909 has a new home

1909, a nonprofit incubator, accelerator and co-working space, has a new home in downtown West Palm Beach. The entrepreneurial hub leased a 9,000 square foot space in the 10-story Comeau Building build in 1926 and located at 319 Clematis Street.

“In a challenging commercial real estate environment, we sought affordable space to support emerging local businesses and maintain the culture we cherish,” 1909 Executive Director Shana Ostrovitz told the South Florida Business Journal.

The location will include workspaces, event space, conference rooms, a quiet room and a gym for early stage entrepreneurs building businesses in South Florida. 1909 was named after the year Palm Beach County was founded and connects hundreds of small businesses with subsidized workspaces, programming and mentorship.

Read more in South Florida Business Journal.


US Bitcoin Corp., Hut 8 Mining complete merger

Miami has a new publicly traded tech company.

Last week, Toronto-based Hut 8 Mining closed its year-long merger with Miami-based US Bitcoin Corp. The new merged company — called Hut 8 Corp — began trading on the Nasdaq as $HUT and is officially headquarteredin Miami.

This is the largest merger to date in the digital asset mining space, and one completed during a down climate for both crypto and the broader economy, according to the company. The Miami-based Hut 8 president is Asher Genoot,  who was just named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.


Doroni receives FAA Airworthiness Certification

Doroni Aerospace received official approval to begin outdoor testing of its electric aircraft.

The maker of an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft designed for personal use announced it obtained an Airworthiness Certification from the Federal Aviation Administration.  The certification is for the company’s 2-seat Doroni H1, which is in development and has a flying range of 60 miles.

The Doroni H1 is poised to redefine urban transportation, offering an eco-friendly, efficient, and exhilarating way to travel. This achievement brings us one step closer to our vision of making personal flight accessible to everyone,” CEO Doron Merdinger said in a statement.

The company is also crowdfunding on StartEngine,


More #MiamiTech news to note

  • David Reeder will join Dania Beach-based online pet supply retailer Chewy as chief financial officer effective Feb. 14. Reeder is currently the CFO of GlobalFoundries Inc., a semiconductor manufacturer based in Malta, New York. “I am excited for David to join Chewy and to play an important role in driving long-term, profitable and capital efficient growth,” CEO Sumit Singh said in a statement. Read more in South Florida Tech Hub.
  • Hollywood-based ClassWallet  appointed Stephen Lindeman as COO, a new position at the company. Most recently, Lindeman spent seven years with fintech accounts receivable provider, Billtrust, as chief customer officer and acquisition executive, where he was tasked with overseeing the company’s growth strategy as well as engagement with the board. Before that, he held executive posts at Heat Software, NC4 and Rockwell Collins. ClassWallet is the maker of digital wallet tech for education, government and other sectors. 
  • Bristol Jones was promoted at Bevel, part of the Avenue Z network, to Director and Head of Miami to run the firm’s South Florida office. She joined Bevel four years ago and in her time working with the company has represented many marquee accounts in the tech ecosystem. Jones has over 10 years of experience working across industries including fashion, CPG, and tech. Prior to Bevel, she managed US communications for Manolo Blahnik.
  • Ryder System, a leader in supply chain, dedicated transportation, and fleet management solutions, secures its first two Ryder ChoiceLease customers under the RyderElectric+ turnkey fleet solution: Pompano Beach-based Land ‘N’ Sea Distributing, the nation’s largest marine and recreation vehicle parts distributor, and Servientrega International, a Bogota, Colombia-based parcel logistics company with operations in Miami. Ryder will support the customers’ charging and infrastructure to enable the operation of the multiple light-duty electric cargo vans that are included in the agreements.


Opportunity knocks

  • eMerge Americas opened applications for its 2024 Startup Accelerator and Showcase. Entrepreneurs have the chance to win a $520,000 investment for their venture. Joining forces with Florida Funders, Medina Ventures and BIP Ventures, eMerge will select 110 startups from across the world for a seven-week program that will culminate in a pitch competition next April. All selected startups will also receive 2 free Tech Passes and prime exhibit space at eMerge Americas. Find out more and apply here by Jan. 31.
  • The Synapse Innovation Awards  recognizes Florida’s innovators, risk-takers and creators for daring to see an opportunity to make something better, and doing it! Top finalists present at Synapse Feb. 28. Find out more and apply here by Dec. 31.
  • Apply to present at the 2024 Florida Venture Capital Conference Feb. 1-2, 2024 at the JW Marriott Marquis in Downtown Miami. The conference attracts over 700 attendees, including 200+ active venture investors. The final application deadline is Jan. 8, but early submissions are strongly encouraged. Find out more and apply here.
  • Dreaming of a tech career? Check out these scholarship opportunities offered by BITE-CON and 4Geeks Academy for Full Stack Developer and/or Data Science and Machine Learning bootcamps. Apply on BITE-CON website here.
  • The Venture Miami Scholarship Fund provides tuition support to provide gap funding for at-need City of Miami residents who have been accepted into STEM or defined-demand occupation programs at participating colleges and universities, including Florida International University, Florida Memorial University, Miami Dade College, and the University of Miami. How to apply: Students who meet the program requirements and are interested in applying to the Venture Miami scholarship are encourage to complete this survey to begin the application process.
  • The Alan B. Levan/NSU Broward Center of Innovation is accepting applications for the 100 Startup Project. Applicants who are accepted will receive a yearlong membership to the Levan Center of Innovation. Apply here.


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Have news to share? Email Nancy Dahlberg at [email protected] and follow her on X @ndahlberg and on LinkedIN.

Nancy Dahlberg