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“We think NFTs represent a new paradigm in the collectability, usability, and engagement with assets," said Michel Combes, president of SoftBank Group International. “This evolution from physical assets to digital assets is very powerful, and creates a lot of exciting potential business models."
- Sorare is a French startup for fantasy sports that essentially lets people collect and trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) associated with their favorite football players.
- The company has partnered with 180 football organizations across 36 leagues to have these cards officially licensed and actually represent players all across the world. Clubs like Real Madrid and Premier League side Liverpool, have all signed up.
- The company has just finished their Series B funding, raising US$680 million, which brings their total valuation to around US$4.3 billion.
- Essentially, each NFT represents a football player’s card and can be bought and sold between users. Fans can use these NFT-based cards to create fantasy football teams, then “play" each other.
- And, when they “play” each other for money, people can get paid out in the form of cryptocurrency Ether or ultrarare NFT player cards.
What are NFTs, again?
- An NFT is a piece of data that’s stored on a blockchain, just like cryptocurrency. The difference is the “non-fungible” part meaning that NFT’s aren’t interchangeable and aren’t equal.
- A blockchain is a large database that keeps track of transactions in the form of blocks. So the who, how much and when of each purchase is stored on a “block,” which is then chained onto the previous block. So we have a chain of blocks.
- The important part is that once a block is loaded onto the chain, it can’t be changed. Each new transaction that’s added to the block is checked against the previous transactions by other users of the same blockchain.
- For NFTs, these checks and rechecks across the blockchain are a way to verify ownership of a digital asset.
- Each new transaction on a block holds details about the transaction, which gets sent out to other points on the chain. If the majority of points, or nodes, agree that it’s legitimate, then it gets added onto the blockchain.
How does this relate to Sorare?
- So in Sorare’s case, this NFT data is linked to a football player’s trading card. When a user buys a trading card, they’re pretty much buying the right to use that player on their fantasy team.
- Each card can only be used on one team at a time, encouraging users to continue buying their favorite cards and entering into more than one tournament.
So, what’s so special about Sorare?
- Sorare’s Series B was led by Softbank Group Corp., with help from other investing powerhouses like Atomico and LionTree LLCC. And, the global outreach to football fans and players everywhere has made this round of funding one of the largest Series B rounds in Europe.
- Investors see Sorare as sitting at the intersection of cryptocurrency and fantasy sports, and is viewed as a huge area for growth because both industries are growing fast.
- “We think NFTs represent a new paradigm in the collectability, usability, and engagement with assets," said Michel Combes, president of SoftBank Group International. “This evolution from physical assets to digital assets is very powerful, and creates a lot of exciting potential business models."
- Their mission is to connect football fans to their favorite sport on a deeper level and connect fans across the globe to one another. So far, it’s looking good.
- The company was only founded in 2018, and between 2020 and 2021, sales have increased over 50 times and the platform now boasts 600,000 users.
- On Wesorare.com, a community dedicated to Sorare fans, it writes, “Thanks to Sorare you will be able to become a manager, a football player or an entrepreneur. You also have the chance to win lots of prizes, in the form of both in cash or cards."
- In a blog post, Sorare’s chief executive officer Nicolas Julia wrote that they had received interest from other sports and organizations, so future plans include expanding beyond football.
- “The record breaking Series B is a huge statement of intent that will greatly improve our NFT fantasy gaming experience for millions of sports fans," he wrote.
- In addition to changing the fantasy sports game, Sorare could change how NFTs are viewed and used.
- Up until recently, NFTs have essentially been collectibles and bragging rights. Now there might be a use for them, giving professional athletes and fans a way to connect a play on a deeper level than ever before.
- Introducing the massive global football scene to NFTs collectibles could drastically increase the market interest for crypto, which could draw regulatory eyes toward how cryptocurrencies are used.