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Football NFTs in Europe Are No Fantasy

While in the US, Fantasy Football has been around the block for a while, NFT Football craze in Europe is just getting started and there are some big bucks involved.

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Source: Sorare.com

The football club Spartak from the Russian Premier League took part in a game against FC Tambov in a soccer stadium north of Moscow on the night of December 5th, 2020. It was a chilly night. The few spectators who were present in heavy jackets, encouraged the home team, which ran over Tambov with 5-1. Ezequiel Ponce, a 24-year-old Spaniard who scored two goals, was the hero of the match. It was a game that was forgotten very quickly. This random game, one of many that was played across the globe every day, was ignored by the majority of the world.

Grant Anderson, an IT business analyst from Edinburgh, was not one of those people. 

He tracked the match closely on his phone. He obsessively monitored the score. Anderson has an NFT card attached to Ezequiel Ponce, which is not only a collectible from the cryptocurrency network called Sorare. It’s a radically different way to play football fantasy, which means, of course, what it practically does anywhere on the planet, apart from the USA.

You build fantasy football lines-ups with Sorare, which you own with NFT cards. You win real money as the players score on the pitch. Anderson got 0.25 ETH (currently valued around 500$) plus more NFT player cards, that are now worth more than $2,000. These awards are constantly distributed by Sorare . “I immediately saw the opportunity,” Anderson says.  “Exctiting and engaging, I’m able to win NFTs and [ETH] using my football and sports passion.” Anderson is one of many football fans (120,000 active monthly users) who are crazy about Sorare – mix of fantasy football, collecting and beefing up the digital wallets with crypto trading. He really enjoys it, he even launched The Sorare Podcast, where guests join him and talk strategy.

Sorare, which raised $50 million in February Series One financing, is not the only football obsessed blockchain. Thousands of miles from Moscow, in Torino, Italy, Juventus FC plays its games in Allianz Stadium .When they score a goal, Blur’s “Song 2” starts blasting from the speakers throughout the stadium.

Why Song 2? This decision was made on the blockchain . Via the blockchain Socio ecosystem, Juventus supporters buy “fan tokens” that give them the power to decisions: the more you have, the stronger your vote is.  Alexandre Dreyfus, CEO and Socios founding member states that “sport is global and the customer is global.” Dreyfus says that Socios fans tokens allow teams to communicate with fans everywhere, even in a pandemic. This is what top-class teams such as Juventus, FC Barcelona and AC Milan do.

Very frequently the crypto-world appears to have divorced from the physical world.  (Try to relate, say, yield farming to something that most people heard about.) We got something different here. In the case of Socios and Sorare, the NFT and tokens against the real world of football, fans really use them and the real clubs do. They serve as cases for actual use. Although NBA Top Shot and athlete NFTs are racking the news headlines, a parade of profitable sales (say, $1.2 million haul by Rob Gronkowski) and a surprising position in the Pop culture talk, there’s not much you can really do with NFTs.

Sorare and Socios are different.

More than a card

“Jhod28” is a 40-year-old teacher from the suburbs of Toronto. He was one of the first users of Sorare, adopting it in January 2020. He played it for free, using the “Commons” beginner standard, which does not require the purchase of NFTs. (The more advanced tiers of Sorare are based on the Ethereum blockchain and require payment; the rookie tier is merely a taster.)

He took home some awards. He had a good time. He was soon addicted. He took out a $10,000 line of credit to start playing for real money and purchase Sorare cards, which would give a financial planner a heart attack. “It was a bit of a gamble,” J-Hod admits. “A lot of people will tell you to put it in Apple, but that’s just boring.”

He wisely selected and played his NFT cards, winning prize after prize, and claiming that his $10,000 investment has risen to $100,000. He took $10,000 out to pay off the loan and $10,000 for a parking space for his fiancée (who has since moved into his condo), but the rest is all in Sorare. “I’m playing with house money,” he says.

J-Hod (who likes to go by his alias due to his private life as a teacher) claims that the Sorare cards have validity even if they aren’t used in fantasy football. (This is also the premise of NBA Top Shot, as well as collectibles in general.) He recalls a period in the early 1990s when there was a “card shop on every corner,” saying, “I’ve been collecting sports cards since I was 10.” These stores sold $1 packs of cards, which you could then resell for $20. It was simple cash. “There was no internet or eBay back then, and no one realized those cards weren’t rare.”

He also collected memorabilia, such as autographed jerseys, which he now keeps in his wardrobe. In his opinion, Sorare cards are superior to their physical counterparts. He compares it to going to the card shop in the 1990s, where the cards were “just a slice of cardboard.”

Then there’s the actual game. Before we get into what makes Sorare so addictive, let’s take a peek at what typical fantasy football looks like.

Fantasy football has been around since1990s, long before it became popular. This was before the internet.   When you said “fantasy football,” people assumed you were talking about the players. There was no access to computers. You could only keep track of scores from the newspapers’ sports sections, and then sum them all up by hand.

Even though fantasy football has been around for a while, the point is that the game is short on strategy. There’s not a whole lot of it. You obsess about the annual draft, tweak your roster, and even spend a few minutes each day scouring the waiver wire. There’s not a whole lot left to do.

Now compare this to Sorare’s situation. There are 128 football clubs in the collaboration (and counting), and they are located all over the world. They play at all hours of the day and night. Some are in Russia, others in the Netherlands, and even others in Japan. It’s easy to keep track of the 32 teams in the National Football League. But, to gain an advantage in Sorare, you’ll need to know about, say, the Dutch Eredivisie’s rising backup goalie. You could get a notification at 4 a.m. that one of your players is injured, and you’ll need to rush out to buy an emergency replacement.

When you first log into Sorare, it’s clear to see why J-Hod, Anderson, and thousands of other frequent players are so addicted. (“After six months, more than 70% of people are still playing the game,” says Nicolas Julia, Sorare’s CEO.) The user interface is well-designed. Most crypto exchanges are opaque and intimidating to newcomers, but Sorare has you up and running in under two minutes. Your players’ avatars are dragged and dropped onto a virtual football pitch. It has the feel of a video game. You field a five-player roster (one goalkeeper, one defender, one midfielder, one striker, and one flex), and you win points for on-field results such as goals, assists, and penalty saves, just like in NFL fantasy football.

Anderson (the podcast’s host) has nearly 500 player cards in his collection. He must continuously assess all current matchups, decide the cards to join in which leagues (there are several tiers), consider historical data for each player, and determine if he wants to “practice” the cards (playing the NFTs in a match will increase their value). This necessitates a thorough understanding of all the nuances of the real world. “You could have a guy from Japan putting up the same numbers as a guy from Europe,” Anderson says. And is it possible that scoring three goals in Japan is easier than in the MLS? Then you may feel compelled to expand your “portfolio” to include more Japanese players. It’s a lot to keep track of.

Just one example of Anderson’s strategy: the 6’4″ backup goalkeeper for FC Bayern Munich, Alexander Nübel, has long piqued Anderson’s interest. Although Nübel may not see much action as a backup, Anderson recognized his potential as a starter and purchased his card when it was on the market for a low price. According to Anderson, the card is now worth 500 pounds (GBP), and “when he’s a starter, it’s a 3,000-pound card.” Long-term preparation is rewarded, which is mana for fantasy football nerds. If you buy a card for an 18-year-old promising rookie, for example, you might be able to squeeze money out of that card for the next 15 years.

Then there’s the money angle. In standard NFL fantasy football, you put money down at the start of the season in the hopes of winning a small weekly prize pool or a larger reward in the playoffs. It’s different with Sorare. “There’s a lot of ETH out there,” J-Hod notes, and the temptation to win money – possibly a lot of money – is all around.

Anderson knows players who treat it like a full-time job, optimizing their lineups to ensure a steady flow of ETH. It necessitates continuous effort and tinkering. Let’s say you paid $200 for a goalkeeper and now he’s worth $2,000. You must make a decision once more. Do you cash out and sell the card on the market, or do you play him in a match in the hopes of winning more ETH or NFTs?

Sorare’s chess game makes traditional fantasy football look more like tic-tac-toe than checkers.

Cubes and tokens

Alexandre Dreyfus, a serial entrepreneur originally from Lyon, France, and now based in Malta, founded Socios. The term “serial entrepreneur” is overused, but it suits Dreyfus well. With his bulging shoulders and sleek bald head, he looks like a linebacker, so it’s shocking to hear him say, “I’ve never played sports.” Instead, he was a computer geek. He got his first computer when he was six years old, began writing software as a teenager, offered his friends a new service called “email,” and dropped out of school at the age of 18 to start a web agency.

Source: Google images

Dreyfus went on to found Chilipoker, an online poker business that was popular enough to land him a relationship with the Golden Nugget casino, where he planned a massive expansion into the United States. Then he had a bigger dream: what if he could make poker into a sport? Not just a sport in the sense that it will be broadcast on ESPN2, but a league with players, fans, and franchises. As a result, he founded the GPL, or Global Poker League, which includes teams such as the Las Vegas Money Makers and the New York Rounders.

The Cube was introduced to the world of poker by Dreyfus’ new league. He wanted viewers to be able to watch the poker games up close and personal, as if they were watching a boxing match from ringside. There is only one problem. If spectators are close enough to see the players’ cards, they will say things that help them in their cheating. “So we made, excuse my French, 11 f**king tons of glass cubes in Las Vegas and put players in the cube,” Dreyfus says, his voice in a thick French accent. These massive cubes were sound-proof, allowing fans to yell as loudly as they liked, as if they were watching a boxing match.

The GPL had a promising start, securing a partnership with Twitch and attracting celebrities such as Aaron Paul from “Breaking Bad.” (You can watch Paul play poker in The Cube right here.) According to Dreyfus, there were “a few million people watching” in the early days, and “it was f**king nuts.” Although the concept is brilliant, Dreyfus now admits, “We failed as a company.” It struggled to make money because it was almost difficult to create a following from scratch – for a brand-new “sport” that no one had heard of.

The GPL had a promising start, securing a partnership with Twitch and attracting celebrities such as Aaron Paul from “Breaking Bad.” (You can watch Paul play poker in The Cube right here.) According to Dreyfus, there were “a few million people watching” in the early days, and “it was f**king nuts.” Although the concept is brilliant, Dreyfus now admits, “We failed as a company.” It struggled to make money because it was almost difficult to create a following from scratch – for a brand-new “sport” that no one had heard of.

Dreyfus had the brilliant idea of using fan tokens to fund his aspiring poker league, but he quickly realized it would be a tall order. If you don’t have any followers, how can you use “fan tokens”? And he had a lightbulb moment. “Rather than attempting to create fan tokens for our own league, which has no audience,” he suggests, “let us attempt to create fan tokens for major brands with millions of fans all over the world.”

The pitch is efficient. Socios tokens are now used by blue-chip teams like Manchester City, AC Milan, and Juventus to engage their fans. When it came to decorating the team bus, Juventus once again delegated the decision to the holders of Socios fan tokens. They went with a bold, eye-catching black and white style with the slogan “LIVE AHEAD.” Fan tokens have been used to assist teams in making decisions on alternate logos, music playlists for player warmups, and limited edition T-shirts.

These decisions are usually made on the outskirts of a club’s activities. However, this isn’t always the case. The club Apollon FC offered its token holders a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in October: they could pick the team’s starting lineup and formation. Granted, this was just a “friendly” game (an exhibition match) with nothing at stake, but it establishes an intriguing precedent and indicates the potential for fans to exert real control over the team, thanks to blockchain technology.

It’s just a matter of time before people are weighing in on roster decisions (do we trade or cut the disappointing midfielder?), coaching decisions (counter attack or wing play?), and whether or not the coach should be fired. Many arguments would ensue about whether this is a positive or bad thing, as well as whether it is fair to conflate “fandom” with the number of tokens purchased, raising questions about income inequality.

Crossing over

Socios and Sorare are both “crossover” use cases that carry non-crypto citizens into the blockchain environment. Take, for example, Alfredo Carotenuto, a 34-year-old Naples-based sports nutritionist. He is a big Juventus supporter. He first became aware of Socios through Juventus’ Twitter feed, rather than through the crypto-verse. He received two skybox tickets to a Juventus match as well as a “walkabout” tour of the stadium via a Socios contest. He then met Cristiano Ronaldo and the other players after the game. Carotenuto explains, “I buy fan tokens for my favorite club.” “In order for me to be a part of the decision-making process.”

Much of this has the potential to become addictive. Diego Herrero Espina, a Salamanca resident, from Spain, uses Socios for “at least 30 minutes every day.” He spends the majority of his time testing fan token prices, trading them on Chiliz (the exchange where you can buy and sell fan tokens using the #CHZ coin, close to how you would use $BNB on the Binance exchange), and then looking for tokens in the real world. Socios has a game that lets you scan the streets of your neighborhood, Pokémon GO style, for tokens using your phone and the app’s augmented reality, for an added bit of engagement and to enable everyone to play without spending money.

Without the participation of leagues, neither Socios nor Sorare will work. But now it’s happening, it’s spreading, and it may soon reach the United States. The leagues have a compelling incentive to compete. Hundreds of football clubs have formed deals with Socios and Sorare because they provide something of worth to them beyond the NFT hype. Leander Monbaliu, Chief Business Officer of the Belgian Pro League, one of Sorare’s earliest partners, says, “This is a way of getting new fans, particularly internationally, to learn about our league.”

“Fans no longer consume football in the same way they used to,” he says. “It’s more disjointed. We need a product that is tailored to their needs, which necessitates innovation.” The days of assuming a fan will stay for two hours to watch an entire match are over; they no longer have the attention span. Highlights, data, and feeds from multiple matches are in high demand among younger fans. According to a Variety poll, 48 percent of 18- to 38-year-olds prefer watching NFL highlights to watching the entire game. It was also higher for the National Basketball Association (54%) and Major League Baseball (58%) respectively. Sorare is a way of giving the fans what they want, according to Monbaliu.

Then there’s the effect of a coronavirus pandemic. Due to the inability of fans to attend matches in person, clubs recognize that fan participation is a challenge. AC Milan’s relationship with Socios, according to Casper Stylsvig, chief revenue officer, is “a powerful fan engagement tool,” allowing fans to do more than just watch the game on TV or on their screens. In early March, for example, AC Milan’s fan token holders voted on the official slogan that will be displayed in the club’s locker room: “Succede a chi ci crede,” which translates to “It happens to those who believe.” (It’s also crypto’s unofficial motto.)

Given that Sorare and Socios are both blockchain-based football ventures, you’d think there’d be a lot of similarities in their communities’ Venn diagrams. That seems not to be the case. “I don’t know a single [Sorare] individual who is on Socios,” J-Hod says, despite the fact that he owns some Socios fan tokens and participates in the contests. On the other hand, Espina reports that Sorare is used by “less than 5%” of people in the Socios culture.

The ventures do not see themselves as rivals, but rather as offering distinct value propositions. One is a game, while the other is a way for fans to get involved. “The [Sorare] guys are great,” Dreyfus says. “We collaborate a little with them, and we have no qualms about promoting each other.” Julia concurs. “We share a number of soccer clubs,” says the CEO of Sorare. “We consider them to be friends.”

So, why are both Sorare and Socios more common in other countries than in the United States, at least for the time being? Dreyfus claims that it is possible to form alliances with individual clubs in football leagues due to their legal structures, as opposed to the NBA, NFL, and MLB, which include league-wide contracts. It’s better for a brave startup to pitch one creative club than the whole NFL apparatus.

There’s also the issue of market size to consider. “In terms of football fans around the world, it’s over a billion,” Julia says. As Dreyfus points out, the Chicago Bulls have a Twitter following of 4.3 million, the Los Angeles Lakers have a following of 9.7 million, and the NBA as a whole has a following of 32.8 million. These are not insignificant figures. However, the NBA as a whole has a smaller audience than one of Socios’ partners, FC Barcelona, which tweets news about fan tokens to 36.1 million followers. In the United States, this has mostly gone unnoticed. “My greatest concern as an entrepreneur is the lack of attention in American-based media,” says Dreyfus, who is surprised his business has remained unnoticed.

This could change in the near future. Socios is growing, ready to break into the American market. It already has a deal with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), and Dreyfus pledged $50 million to potential deals with American leagues in early March. He intends to use the funds as a “minimum guarantee” of income for these leagues, in order to entice the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA to join the group. Socios currently has 100 staff and is planning to open a Manhattan branch.

Is there any limit on how high this can get? Dreyfus envisions a day when the media reports fan tokens in the same way as they report sports wins and losses, explaining that the fan token’s price (which fluctuates on the market) could be used as a gauge of fan sentiment. So, if the NBA’s Houston Rockets go on a 19-game losing streak, but the price of the Rockets token remains high, it means that fans are willing to overlook the slump in order to rebound and gain higher draft picks. “You have the token price in addition to the scoreboard of what happened the day before,” Dreyfus says.

He isn’t the only one who is optimistic about the future. On Feb. 9, when I first spoke with Dreyfus, each Chiliz coin, which is used to buy and sell fan tokens on the Chiliz exchange, was worth 2.7 cents. It has increased by 1,785 percent in the last two months, and is now worth 50 cents with a market cap of $2.9 billion, making it one of the top 50 crypto ventures (by market cap). If Dreyfus is effective in looping in the NFL, NBA, and others, what happens next? Keep an eye out.

Sorare may point to similar signs of growth. Sorare is the third-most active NFT project, behind CryptoPunks and SuperRare. In February, 20,000 soccer fans attended, and by March, the number had risen to 120,000. Sorare had a $70,000 trading volume when it first opened in January 2020. It surpassed $27 million last month.

Too much of blockchain’s hyped-up “potential” necessitates huge leaps of faith. This is a unique experience. Because if a single random football match on a cold Moscow night can get fans excited and interested in the sport, imagine what a Sorare-style fantasy experience might do in, say, Game 7 of the NBA Finals? I magine if you could swap cards, not only for football teams’ backup goalies, but also for cards of LeBron James, Zion Williamson, and James Harden, and win a steady stream of prizes?

I would not bet against it.

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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