Band Elizabeth Howcroft
LONDON, September 21 (Reuters) – Blockchain-Based Fantasy Soccer Game Sorare Raised $ 680 Million In SoftBank-Led Funding Round 9984.T, with players including former England international Rio Ferdinand and Spain’s Gerard Pique also investing, the company said on Tuesday.
Sorare, based in Paris, said the investment valued the company at $ 4.3 billion.
Founded in 2018, Sorare is an online game where players purchase officially licensed cards depicting soccer players and form teams that play against each other, the result being based on the performance of the players in real games.
Cards are traded in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a kind of crypto asset that records the ownership status of digital goods on the blockchain.
The NFT market saw explosive growth in 2021, with the most popular collectible and sports-related types of tokens.
“We believe that NFTs represent a new paradigm for collection, usability and engagement with assets,” said Michel Combes, president of SoftBank Group International, in comments sent via email.
“This shift from physical to digital assets is very powerful and creates many exciting potential business models.”
Sorare is the largest sports-based NFT platform by sales volume, according to NonFungible.com, a website that tracks NFT market data. She plans to open an office in the United States and expand into sports other than soccer.
“We have seen the immense potential that blockchain and NFTs have brought to unlock a new way for soccer clubs, footballers and their fans to experience a deeper connection with each other,” said Nicolas Julia, CEO and co-founder of Sorare.
“We believe this is a huge opportunity to create the next giant in sports entertainment.”
As of January 2021, there have been $ 150 million in sales on Sorare, which accepts credit card payments and cryptocurrency ether. The most expensive single card is Cristiano Ronaldo’s, which was purchased for 245,072 euros ($ 287,420.44) on March 13.
The fundraiser was SoftBank’s first investment in Sorare, via its SoftBank Vision Fund 2.
SoftBank’s fund for Latin America also contributed, which Combes says is due to the fact that SoftBank can use its connections with the American and Latin American football leagues and its investment in broadcaster Televisa-Univision, to increase Sorare’s user base there.
This is not SoftBank’s first foray into NFTs: it also led investments in the NFT OpenSea marketplace in July and invested in the decentralized funding platform Juggernaut in March.
Other investors in the Sorare increase include: venture capital firms Accel and Bessemer Ventures as well as footballers Pique, Ferdinand, Frenchman Antoine Griezmann and Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta.
($ 1 = 0.8527 euros)
(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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