NFT, Fantasy Sports Platform Sorare Expands Reach in US Through Agreement with MLB, MLBPA

Sorare, a non-fungible fantasy sports token (NFT) exchange valued last year at $4.3 billion, has signed a partnership with Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

This is Sorare’s second contract with an American sports league this year, with the startup focusing until recently on European football, where the company is a major player with official licenses with more than 250 clubs. In March, Sorare announced a deal with Major League Soccer, entering the US market.

Sorare has a marketplace where people can buy and sell NFTs as well as a fantastic game where they can trade and manage teams.

Terms of the MLB/MLBPA deal were not disclosed. But MLB received a stake in Sorare as part of its investment, according to league chief revenue officer Noah Garden. MLB and Sorare plan to launch the fantasy game and NFT platform this summer.

“Sorare, when they first came to see us, they had a different take on (NFTs),” Garden said. “We are always looking for different ways to reach younger audiences and our younger fan base.”

He added: “The goal has always been to find a new way to fantasize for people who love the game or are casually involved in the game but don’t have to spend three hours a day to win their league. fantasy baseball.”

Garden said MLB has taken stakes in other companies it has partnered with in recent years, including last year when it signed separate NFT deals with Topps and Candy Digital, an entertainment company. digital collectibles founded by Fanatics President Michael Rubin.

“When we go to invest, we rely on all of our partnerships,” Garden said. “We want to partner with people who are going to be very successful. We want to get involved and help them succeed. I’ve always found that when there’s skin in the game on both sides, it puts us in a position to really work hard together to create the best possible product for the fans. If you do this, the money will always come.

Sorare was founded in 2018 by Nicolas Julia and Adrien Montfort, who worked together at Stratumn, a Paris-based fintech company with a blockchain application development platform. Julia and Montfort had each been involved in cryptocurrencies for several years, but left Stratumn after becoming familiar with NFTs.

“We were like, ‘This is going to be the vehicle for mainstream adoption of crypto and digital assets because you have these emotional connections with NFTs that you don’t have with bitcoin or cryptocurrencies in general,'” said Julia, who is Sorare. general director. “You tap into something that is passion and brings people together. It was very, very appealing to us.

As cryptocurrencies and NFTs boomed during the coronavirus pandemic, Sorare caught the attention of the investment community, which was drawn to Sorare’s success in securing deals with major European football clubs. Sorare raised $50 million in a Series A round in February 2021 and $680 million in a Series B round in September 2021 which valued the company at a valuation of $4.3 billion. It was the largest Series B round in Europe and the second largest private fundraiser among blockchain startups, the only final cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank led the Series B round. Other investors in the company include venture capital firms such as Benchmark, D1 Capital, Bessemer Ventures and Seven Seven Six, which is led by co-founder Alexis Ohanian. from Reddit.

Ohanian invested in Series A and B and was attracted to Sorare’s vision to expand beyond football and into major US leagues. Tennis star Serena Williams, Ohanian’s wife, also joined Sorare’s board this year as an advisor.

“Crypto is truly international and soccer is the most popular sport in the world, so even if they stayed (in soccer), they still could have been a hugely successful business,” Ohanian said. “But once you’ve built the basic infrastructure, adding another sport is, I don’t want to say trivial, but it’s totally doable. You have to think about some things a little differently because the nature of games varies. But once we saw the appetite of other leagues, now it just overturns other sports that fans love.

Sorare had $325 million in trading volume last year, according to Julia, and he expects to hit at least $700 million in volume this year. The company claims to have 1.8 million registered users in 185 countries, with nearly 20% of users residing in the United States.

Sorare currently has approximately 70 employees divided between Paris and the United States. The company opened an office in New York last year and has brought on some big names, including Ryan Spoon as chief operating officer, Michael Meltzer as head of business development and Dan Sormaz as head of design. . Spoon was previously chief operating officer at BetMGM and senior vice president of digital and social content at ESPN, while Meltzer was senior director of strategic enterprises at DraftKings and Sormaz was vice president of design at Spotify.

By the end of the year, Sorare aims to have a total of 230 employees and is expected to sign deals with other US leagues in the coming months.


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