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Softbank is looking to reap real-world benefits from the rise of fantasy football and virtual sports collectives, as it leads to a 680 million investment in French start-up Sora.
Founded just three years ago, Soror is now valued at 3 4.3 billion after the largest fundraising round for a European technology start-up so far this year.
The Paris-based company runs a popular online game that allows fans to choose a fantastic team of real footballers and earn points each week according to their performance on the pitch. Players of fantasy games can earn or buy digital football cards, known as “non-fungible tokens” (NFT), secured in blockchain, which can also be traded as unique items.
“Magic is really at the crossroads of NFT collectibles and fantasy football,” Nicholas Julia, CEO and co-founder of Soror, told the Financial Times. “The two of them come up with something that’s really new.”
The new investment is led by Softbank, through its Vision Fund 2 and its Latin America fund, but also by many other leading venture capitalist groups such as Atomico and Bessemer, as well as football stars such as FC Barcelona’s Gerard Pique and former Manchester United defender. Previous investors include Axel and Benchmark.
These investors believe that more fans will be interested in buying and selling Soror’s NFT cards – the company’s only source of income – such as trading items in physical collections from tops baseball cards to Panini football stickers.
After a burst of interest in the NFT over the summer, Soror’s latest fundraiser, just seven months after it raised 250 250 million.
Market tracker DappRadar estimates that sales in August were 5.3bn, up from $ 2.5bn in the first six months of 2021, as cryptocurrency investors focus their profits on digital assets and games such as CryptoPunks, Bored Ape Yacht Club, Axie Infinity and Loot- A reinvests.
The risk is that NFTs represent a short-term Fed, with allegations that some crypto groups have noticed sports fans that they could make net financial gains by speculating on NFT sales.
Solar’s Julia says: “You’ll never see it again [our] Marketing which you can make money. Like the physical world, some people will like it [they do] With the Panini card. Some of them sell millions and more than NFT cards. But the main experience is the game. ”
Marcelo Clover, CEO of Softbank Group International, who has personally owned or invested in several football clubs, including Bolivian club Bolivar and Girona in Spain, said: Anxiously waiting for. ”
Many sports leagues have sunk into NFT offers. In 2019, the National Basketball Association of North America partnered with crypto company Dapper Labs to encrypt “top shot” launch-12-second highlights on the blockchain and then sell them to fans as digital cards. One of them, a clip of a LeBron James Dunk, was resold for $ 200,000, although a similar video can be viewed for free on YouTube.
Scoreboard is the Financial Times’ new weekly sports business briefing, where you can get the best analysis of financial problems affecting clubs, franchisees, owners, investors and media groups in the global industry. Register here.
Like other forms of crypto, trading can be volatile. According to Cryptoslam.io, the top shot market has cracked. At the peak of February, more than 80,000 shoppers spent more than 4 224 million acquiring basketball cards that month. In July, only buyers5 buyers had sales of .. 8.4 million. Average sales of top shot cards during this period dropped from $ 181.81 to $ 31.5.
According to data from Cryptoslam.io, Sora Card prices peaked in March, when their average price was $ 281 compared to $ 168.92 this month, but in recent months they have also maintained stronger sales volumes than the top shots.
Simon Chadwick, a sports professor at Emilion Business School, said the “gold rush excitement” surrounding the NFT in sports was reminiscent of football clubs’ “feeding frenzy” for online presence during the dotcom boom of the 1990s. “People are making a bet that joining fans is synonymous with economic transactions,” Chadwick said.
Julia said Sorara has earned। 150 million in revenue so far this year, with the latest investment to be spent in the U.S. expanding and securing new contracts. Last week, it announced a deal with Spain’s La Liga competition and is in talks with the English Premier League, the world’s most-watched domestic football competition.