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Exclusive Interview: Nicolas Julia, CEO & Co-Founder of Sorare

Sorare is taking the NFT space by storm. It is a collective fantasy football experience with more than 4 billion potential user base across the world. We had the pleasure of chatting with its CEO and Co-Founder Nicolas Julia.

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1. We know you as Co-founder and CEO of Sorare. What about your life and business endeavors before that, can you tell us a little more about that? How did the idea for the Sorare project come about?

In the summer of 2018 my co-founder Adrien and I decided to launch Sorare because we discovered a technology enabling the creation of scarce digital items (also known as NFTs today). We were immediately fascinated by it.
The creation of digital scarce goods thanks to blockchain technology is unlocking the act of collecting in the digital space. 

As two huge football fans, we wanted to build something that we could use daily, that would help us connect with football in a fun way. We decided to create scarce digital cards mixed with one of the most coveted intellectual properties in the world, football players. Now we had scarce digital cards.

But since these cards are digital, we can give them utility. We decided to make this new class of collectibles usable in a compelling global fantasy football game. That way, we could engage fans over the years, one on the collecting aspect of these cards but also on the gaming aspect.

2. When was the first time you got involved in cryptocurrencies, and more importantly, NFTs?

I got involved in cryptocurrencies and blockchain a bit before starting my role as VP Operations at Stratumn at, beginning of 2016. NFTs I started collecting some end of 2017, beginning of 2018 and that’s when we had the idea for Sorare.

3. Let’s dig a little deeper into Sorare. Tell us more about the project. How would you describe Sorare to somebody that does not know about it yet? (probably not a lot of those anymore)

Sorare is a unique game experience, with a real-world impact and secured by the Blockchain. Through tradable digital cards, Sorare is designing a collective fantasy football experience where users manage their favorite players and hone their passion to earn prizes. Anyone, anywhere, can connect with the beautiful game on Sorare.

4. We would love to know about your team. Who are the key members and what do they do to keep the project interesting to the crowds?

We’ve got a team of 17 people working at Sorare. We’ve got over 20+ open roles, recruiting a world-class team to become the game within the game. 

5. Let’s say we want to get involved in Sorare and jump in the game of fantasy football! How do we start? Do you have any tips for us, regarding the game? What’s a good starting budget? Do you find the time to play the game yourself?

Create an account on the Sorare platform. Users can then start collecting their cards.
Once you’ve collected your first card after the onboarding, you can compose your first team.
Enjoy the live experience of seeing your players compete in real life and watch your team score on Sorare. Earn rewards if you’ve built a great team, that can be both new cards and merchandising. 

Every single tournament on Sorare is completely free to enter. However if you want to participate in specific tournaments, you will have to collect a team of 5 cards that will cost around 200 euros today, depending on the players that you are collecting. 

6. Let’s look at NFTs in general for a moment. The market has gone crazy in 2021, Q1 was 2000% bigger in terms of sales comparing it to Q4 in 2020. Prices of digital collectibles and memorabilia are skyrocketing, what is your take on that, is it way overhyped or is that just the new reality? Do you own any NFT digital collectibles yourself, if so, which ones?

The major advantage of NFTs on Sorare is that they are provenly scarce. This creates inherent value. Blockchain technology gives Sorare cards superpowers: digital scarcity, true ownership, authenticity, and most importantly interoperability.

We are building more than collectibles. Our digital cards have a utility that can be used in our global fantasy football games but also myriads of games. The utility is what will make NFTs here to stay. 

However, we’ve seen NFTs capture culture like never before from Art to Gaming, helping artists monetize their work and subsidizing their future work. We’re only at the beginning of what this technology can bring. 

If the massive spike in interest might be temporarily overvalued, the trend is not. Like most innovations, there can always be a bit of frothiness and euphoria in the market. The major advantages of Sorare NFTs is that they are:

1. Provenly scarce (it is known by inspecting the NFT contract or looking on Sorare)
2. Have utility (you can use Sorare cards in multiple games developed by Sorare, Ubisoft, and indie game developers)

7. So, at the moment, most of the NFTs currently are connected to art, memorabilia, digital collectibles, but we can see already that NFTs could be useful in “the real world.” Do you see NFTs as something that can change the world in the future, because some people see it just as the latest overhyped crypto trend?

NFTs are changing the way we consume culture. They act as a store of culture and I think we’re only scratching the surface of what we’ll be able to do with NFTs in the future. I’m very excited about NFTs as access to a cultural experience.

8. The cryptocurrency market has taken a pretty steep downturn, Bitcoin dropped about 50% from its all-time high market value of $60,000. How did that affect Sorare?

Sorare is not dependent on the crypto market, most of our users are not crypto enthusiasts but rather fantasy football fans. 

9. Last but not least: what’s in store for Sorare, what are some of your future plans and visions for the project?

Sorare is building new ways to be connected to the game and other fans. We want to become the game in the game, allowing football supporters to express their fandom and passion in ways that were unimaginable just a year ago. We’ve started with football, the world’s most popular sport. We’re laser-focused on football. There are 4 billion people that are football fans around the world. We feel that the opportunity is huge to build the most compelling football digital collectible platform there is out there, with great games around it. 

We would like to thank Nicolas Julia and the Sorare team for this extensive interview, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for this amazing project. If you want to know more about Sorare and experience it firsthand, go to: https://sorare.com/.

Projects

‘It’s Time’: NBA Top Shot Maker Dapper Labs to Launch NFT Platform for UFC

Following the UFC 270 pay-per-view event, NFTs from the Ultimate Fighting Championship will debut on Flow this weekend.

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#nft #nfthours #dapperlabs #ufc #collection

Dapper Labs announced today that it would launch an NFT platform for the popular mixed martial arts organization Ultimate Fighting Championship later this week, following its success with NBA Top Shot and subsequent arrangements with the NFL and LaLiga.

UFC Strike will premiere on Sunday, January 23, immediately following the UFC 270 live pay-per-view event on Saturday. UFC Strike’s digital collectibles, like Top Shot’s, will be based on video footage from previous events and will be minted on Dapper’s Flow blockchain. However, unlike Top Shot, the UFC collectible moments will include the original soundtrack to match the video clip.

Furthermore, rather than having different tier levels, all packs—which contain a random selection of moments—will be sold at the same price (as with NBA Top Shot). NFT moments from fighters like Francis Ngannou, Amanda Nunes, Kamaru Usman, Rose Namajunas, Derrick Lewis, and Justin Gaethje will be featured in the first pack.

Dapper’s contract with the UFC was signed before NBA Top Shot was out, which is interesting. According to statistics from DappRadar, the partnership was announced in February 2020, when the NFT sector was still small and niche—well before it grew to $23 billion in trading volume in 2021.

Dapper Labs’ head of partnerships, Caty Tedman, said that the company wanted to debut NBA Top Shot first and learn from the experience—which includes serious scaling issues early last year—before launching the UFC memorabilia.

She stated, “We’ve come to the stage where we feel ready to [launch].” “We’re ecstatic to provide UFC fans with a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as well as the utility that comes with this type of product. We’re finally ready to launch this as the industry, and we grow together.”

Tedman stated that the UFC Strike platform would be heavily promoted during this weekend’s pay-per-view event, including appearances by UFC President Dana White and fighters.

Because the UFC’s timetable is mainly based on pay-per-view fights every few weeks, UFC Strike will plan its releases to coincide with those significant events. As a result, the portal will first focus on fights from the previous year but ultimately include highlights from older UFC fights. The first fight in the promotion took place in 1993.

Despite the roughly two-year gap between the original announcement and this week’s launch, Tedman said the UFC—which already has a crypto fan token through the Socios.com platform—was keen to make a big statement in the NFT industry.

“Every company has its personality, and the UFC’s approach is to test with us and try new things with us,” she explained. “It’s fantastic to have a partner that doesn’t say, ‘Well, let’s try it little and see how it goes,’ when you’re talking about how to launch a product. It’s like, ‘Let’s make it as huge as we can.’ ‘Let’s do it in a UFC-style fight.'”

Unlike Top Shot and the impending NFL All Day platform, UFC Strike will be released without a closed beta period to the general public. According to Tedman, Dapper is investigating live activations at future UFC events, as it has done with the NBA, and added value for UFC NFTs, such as potential community or gaming features.

Top Shot in 2022

The UFC announcement comes on the heels of NBA Top Shot’s first major commercial campaign, including Kevin Durant, the Brooklyn Nets player and two-time NBA champion debuting yesterday.

In October, Durant and his Boardroom media group signed a deal with Dapper Labs to give him “a starring position across NBA Top Shot,” according to the company. According to Tedman, Durant, an early investor in Coinbase who has invested in other crypto firms, is familiar with the Top Shot concept.

“He’s a world-class athlete. He’s a top-tier human. He’s a tech entrepreneur,” she explained. “It’s been a long time since he’s been with us. He’s been interested in the crypto world for quite some time. Therefore, he ticks all the boxes. But isn’t he also swaggering? There’s nothing about him that wouldn’t make him a fantastic candidate for this type of campaign.”

ACCORDING TO TEDMAN, the NBA Top Shot team is “very focused on raising participation in the product and increasing accessibility” for 2022. Following the early 2021 boom in demand and Dapper’s time spent improving platform reliability and customer service, the business feels Top Shot still has substantial growth potential ahead of it.

“This sector is still in its infancy,” she explained. “There’s no such thing as ‘tried and true,'” says the author. “We’re going to attempt a lot of things, but we’re going to do a lot of things to make sure that current collectors feel valued—so they don’t feel like we’re creating an experience where they don’t feel valued.”

And NFL All Day, which Dapper promised would debut by the end of the current NFL season, is still on track to do so—for reference, Super Bowl LVI is on February 13. The NFT platform is now in closed beta testing, and given the recent nature of Dapper’s NFL partnership, Tedman said they’re concentrating on polishing it before going public.

“We’re much newer to the NFL,” she added, “in the same way that every organization has a different personality and every partnership has a different pace. So as a result, we’re taking our time with it.”

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Meta’s Instagram Experimentation With NFT Marketplace

Meta, formerly Facebook, is said to be working on a feature that will allow users to display their NFT collections on Instagram.

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#nft #nfthours #meta #facebook #instagram #marketplace

According to the Financial Times, Meta, formerly Facebook, has new intentions to enter the fast-growing non-fungible token (NFT) market.

The Financial Times stated, citing unnamed sources, that the social media company is working on a tool that will allow users to mint and trade NFTs and display their collections on their Meta and Instagram profiles. In April 2012, Meta, formerly Facebook, paid $1 billion for Instagram.

The blockchain network on which these capabilities would be developed is still unknown. However, NFTs are currently available on several blockchains, including Solana, Tezos, Ethereum, Flow, and WAX.

According to two sources, an NFT marketplace similar to OpenSea is also in the works.

OpenSea has been a cornerstone of the burgeoning NFT industry. Despite a more significant market decline, the platform set a new monthly volume high of $3.5 billion two weeks before the end of January. According to a report by analytics firm Chainalysis, the total market for digital collectibles will reach $41 billion in 2021.

The $69 million auctions by digital artist Beeple at Christie’s, monthly million-dollar sales of CryptoPunks, and a slew of celebrities endorsing the craze in one way or another capped off a spectacular year.

This publicity has piqued the curiosity of non-crypto companies as well.

Instagram, Meta and NFTs

In December, Adam Mosseri, the CEO of Instagram, said that the company is “actively studying NFTs and how we can make them more accessible to a wider audience.”

The company organized a session for NFT makers earlier this year to raise awareness about how to use the technology. However, artists said they “need more information on how to [use NFTs], not just from us, but from other creators,” according to Instagram’s VP of global partnerships, Charles Porch.

NFTs are also expected to play a significant role in the metaverse, a persistent digital world where individuals interact through virtual avatars. Therefore, establish non-fungible ownership of objects inside a wholly digital environment.

With its latest push into NFTs, the tech industry is getting a glimpse into how Meta could implement NFTs on its platform. Facebook’s recent rebranding as Meta signaled CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s intent to move “from being Facebook first as a company to being metaverse first.” With its latest push into NFTs, the tech industry is getting a glimpse into how Meta could implement NFTs on its platform.

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Tom Brady’s Autograph NFC Platform Raises $170 Million in Funding

Autograph raises significant cash and extends its advisory board with the help of celebrities like Brady, The Weeknd, and Simone Biles.

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#nft #nfthours #tombrady #autograph

Autograph, the NFT platform co-founded by NFL quarterback Tom Brady in 2021, has made a significant splash by enlisting the help of sportsmen and entertainers like Tiger Woods, The Weeknd, and Simone Biles. Now, the firm has also raised a substantial sum of money.

Today, Andreessen Horowitz’s a16z fund and Kleiner Perkins led a $170 million Series B fundraising round for Autograph. Lightspeed Venture Partners, 01A, and Katie Haun’s new venture capital business are among the investors in the round.

Together with a16z General Partners Chris Dixon and Arianna Simpson, and Kleiner Perkins’ Ilya Fushman, Haun will join Autograph’s board of advisors as part of the fundraising.

Along with the funding announcement, Autograph did not provide a valuation. However, in July 2021, 01A and Velvet Sea Ventures co-led a Series A fundraising round.

The platform was revealed in April 2021, during the first NFT boom, and launched in August in collaboration with DraftKings Marketplace. Autograph has also released NFTs from Tony Hawk, Naomi Osaka, Wayne Gretzky, Derek Jeter, Usain Bolt, Rob Gronkowski, and the aforementioned names.

According to the firm, the cash came from “many recently finalized” collaborations that will be publicized soon. Autograph began with sports but has since broadened its focus, first with Lionsgate’s “Saw” film franchise and later with the addition of musician Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye as the platform’s music vertical’s head.

Autograph is “pumped to add some incredibly skilled experts in the Web3 sector to our team,” Brady tweeted today about the financing round. Autograph is “beginning with celebrities, but wants to encourage innovators at every step of growth,” according to a16z’s Dixon.

Images, video files, and interactive video game items can all be represented by an NFT, which works as a blockchain-backed deed of ownership for digital property. According to DappRadar, the market grew to $23 billion in transaction volume in 2021. Autograph issues NFTs using Polygon, a sidechain scaling solution for Ethereum, the primary NFT platform.

With Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot bringing NFTs to widespread audiences early last year, sports memorabilia have become a vital component of the NFT industry. Dapper has also formed partnerships with the NFL, UFC, and LaLiga. In addition, in October, Fanatics raised $100 million at a $1.5 billion value for its Candy Digital platform, which holds the official Major League Baseball license.

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