Sorare, an ethereum-based fantasy football game based around NFT trading cards, has seen a lot of growth in 2021 with a growing player base and significant trading volume, not to mention dozens of new licensed teams coming on board. Today, the French startup put an exclamation point on that upswing with the announcement of a $680 million funding round.
The $680 million Series B round values the company at $4.3 billion, and follows a $50 million Series A round announced in February. This new Series B round was led by Japanese tech and investment group SoftBank, which has a number of existing deals in the cryptocurrency industry, notably through its SBI Holdings financial services arm.
Sorare is currently focused exclusively on football, offering players from over 175 licensed clubs in the game. Popular clubs like FC Barcelona, Juventus FC and Paris Saint-Germain FC are all part of Sorare, as is the Major League Soccer Players Association – just the players and not the clubs themselves.
Nicolas Julia, Sorare’s co-founder and CEO, told us this week that the company also plans to expand into other sports. It will also open a U.S.-based office in the coming months, he said, to “help us continue to grow with the fans and sports leagues in this country.”
“We have ambitious plans to continue to grow Sorare as a sports and entertainment giant,” Julia said.” The new funding will be used to help us continue to grow our world-class team, expand into new leagues and new sports, and continually improve our user experience, including shipping mobile apps.”
Like Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot, Sorare is built around a professional athlete-based NFT, which acts like an ownership deed to a demonstrably scarce digital item. In Sorare’s case, it’s a digital trading card that can be purchased and resold in a limited number of copies per card. For example, one such NFT card was sold in March for nearly $290,000 worth of ETH.
However, unlike Top Shot, Sorare has an ongoing game component. It’s similar to other fantasy sports in that you can choose a lineup of professional players each week and play in leagues with other users, earning points based on your players’ respective performances in the real world. In Sorare, you can only build your team with the player cards you have, but there are also rewards in the form of rare cards and ETH.
According to the company, Sorare has traded over $150 million since the start of 2021 and has over 600,000 registered users on the platform.Sorare aims to join the top 20 football leagues and top 50 football associations around the world, as well as introduce women’s football clubs to join the current selection of men’s teams.
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The $680 million Series B round – which Sorare calls the largest in Europe to date – also includes new investors Atomico, D1 Capital, Bessemer Ventures, Eurazeo, IVP, Hillhouse and Liontree, as well as existing Sorare investors Accel, Benchmark and Headline’s participation.
Professional footballers Gerard Piqué, Antoine Griezmann, Rio Ferdinand and César Azpilicueta also invested in the round. Meanwhile, February’s Series A included notable investors such as entrepreneur and NFT enthusiast Gary Vaynerchuk, as well as Seven Seven Six founder and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Sorare also has close ties to leading game publisher Ubisoft. The startup participates in Ubisoft’s Entrepreneur Lab accelerator program, and in addition, the two companies collaborated this spring on One Shot League, Sorare’s spin-off game focused on Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League.