Sorare, a blockchain-based fantasy soccer game, raised$680 million in a funding round that was led by Japan’s investing conglomerate SoftBank.
Players who invested in the fantasy game firm included ex-England international Rio Ferdinand as well as Gerard Pique from Spain who also invested during the funding round, the company announced Tuesday.
Sorare, a Paris-based company, stated that the investment valued the company at $4.3 billion.
Sorare was founded in 2018 and allows players to buy licensed cards that represent soccer players. The users then can create teams against each other. The outcome is determined by their performance in real-life matches of the teams.
These cards can be traded as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. This is a type of crypto asset that records the ownership status for digital goods on the Blockchain.
In 2021, the market for NFTs experienced explosive growth. Sports-related tokens and collectibles were among the ones that were most in demand.
Michel Combes, president of SoftBank Group International, stated in an emailed comment that NFTs are a new paradigm for the collectability, useability, and engagement in assets.
“The evolution of physical assets to digital assets has many exciting business opportunities,” he said.
According to NonFungible.com, which is a website that tracks NFT market data, Sorare is the largest NFT platform for sports in terms of sales volume. Sorare has said that it now plans to open an office in the United States and expand into other sports.
Nicolas Julia, co-founder and CEO of Sorare, said: “We saw the immense value that blockchain and NFTs offered to unlock a new avenue for football clubs and footballers to experience a deeper relationship with one another.”
“We believe that this is an enormous opportunity to build the next sports entertainment company,” Julia added.
Sorare has sold $150 million worth of products since January 2021. It accepts payment via credit card or cryptocurrency ether. Cristiano Ronaldo’s most exclusive card was purchased for 287,420.44 euros as on March 13.
SoftBank Vision Fund 2 was SoftBank’s first investment in Sorare.
SoftBank’s Latin America Fund also contributed. Combes stated that SoftBank can leverage its relationships with U.S. soccer leagues and Latin American broadcasters, as well as its investment in Televisa-Univision to increase Sorare’s user base.
SoftBank isn’t the first to venture into NFTs. In July, it led investment in OpenSea NFT Marketplace and in March it invested in Juggernaut decentralised finance platform.
Venture capital firms Accel Ventures and Bessemer Ventures were also involved in Sorare’s raise, as well as footballers Pique and Ferdinand, France’s Antoine Griezmann, and Spain’s Cesar Azilicueta.
(Adapted from VentureBeat.com)