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The Sorare platform wants to use the Softbank funding to expand its NFT gaming offerings outside soccer and also expand its marketing efforts.
The Series B round values the French startup at $4.3 billion and reflects the confidence investors have in the project. Sorare intends to use the proceeds from the funding round to expand to new sports (outside of soccer). Furthermore, it looks to open a US-based office, hire more staff, and invest in marketing campaigns.
In addition to SoftBank’s Vision Fund Team, other round investors include, Atomico, Bessemer Ventures, D1 Capital, Eurazeo, IVP, and Liontree. Also notable among the investors are ex-England soccer player Rio Ferdinand and Spanish team defender, Gerard Pique. Some of Sorare’s existing investors are once again investing. They include Benchmark, Accel, Headline, to name a few.
Sorare: King of NFT Sports Even Before the SoftBank Investment
According to NonFungible.com, Sorare is the largest sports-based NFT by sales volume. Founded in 2018, it is an online game where players trade officially licensed soccer player cards in the form of NFTs. The Paris-based company generates revenue by issuing new player cards on its platform. The most expensive one is of Cristiano Ronaldo, which cost $287,420.44.
Users get to build virtual teams which compete against each other, with the outcome based on players’ performances in real-life games. Each digital card registers as a unique token on the Ethereum blockchain, with the protocol holding a record of all transactions. Since January, $150 million worth of cards has been traded on the Sorare platform between users. As of now, Sorare does not charge a commission on player-to-player transactions.
Sorare currently has 600,000 registered users and 150,000 users who are buying cards and assembling teams monthly. Between the second quarters of 2020 and 2021, Sorare sales grew 51x.
Sorare’s novelty is its partnerships with 180 soccer teams, including some European powerhouses such as Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Juventus. These seemingly exclusive partnerships prevent other companies from entering into the space.
NFT Market on a Steady Rise
In 2021 alone, the NFT market has seen exponential growth with collectibles and sports-related tokens ranking highest among the pack. Sorare co-founder and CEO, Nicolas Julia, credits his company’s impressive sales growth and value proposition to mainstream NFT acceptance. He noted:
“We saw the immense potential that blockchain and NFTs brought to unlock a new way for football clubs, footballers, and their fans to experience a deeper connection with each other. We are thrilled by the success we have seen so far, but this is just the beginning.”
Nicolas also added that the company now has a huge opportunity to produce the next sports entertainment giant. According to him, Sorare will get close to football fans and organizations, bringing proven operation models to interested fans worldwide.
Michel Combes, president of SoftBank Group International, also weighed in on the recent NFT craze. According to him, NFTs represent a new stage in asset interaction, specifically with engagement, usability, and collectability. However, this is not the first time that SoftBank is venturing into NFTs. The company invested in DeFi platform Juggernaut in March, and in July, led the investment in NFT marketplace OpenSea.