Sorare raises record $680m to fund its NFT fantasy football game

21 Sep 2021

Image: © velirina/Stock.adobe.com

The Paris-based start-up will use the SoftBank-led funding to make new hires, partner with new football leagues and expand into new sports.

French gaming start-up Sorare has raised a record $680m in Series B funding led by SoftBank.

The NFT-based fantasy football game that raised $50m in its Series A in February is reportedly valued at $4.3bn after the latest investment.

Future Human

“The record-breaking Series B is a huge statement of intent that will greatly improve our NFT fantasy gaming experience for millions of sports fans,” co-founder Nicolas Julia said in a blog post. “This fundraising will help deliver our key objective: to create the next world champion in sports entertainment, by leveraging NFTs.”

Julia said that Sorare will use the investment to hire new talent, sign new partnerships with football leagues, focus on a mobile-first experience and expand into new sports in 2022.

He also said the start-up was committed to use the funding to support community-led football programmes for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, back small businesses in sport and gaming with funding, and invest in women’s football to increase female representation in the sport.

Apart from SoftBank, some new investors to chip in for Sorare’s latest funding include Atomico, Bessemer Ventures, D1 Capital, Eurazeo, IVP and Liontree. They were joined by existing investors Benchmark, Accel and Partech, and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, as well as football players Gerard Piqué, Rio Ferdinand, Antoine Griezmann and César Azpilicueta.

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are units of data on a digital ledger, which are verified using blockchain technology. These can be used to represent a unique digital item such as photo files, video clips, the world wide web’s source code or, in this case, a digital football card. These digital cards will be unique, scarce and publicly verifiable using blockchain tech.

In Sorare, users create teams consisting of five players to enter tournaments in the fantasy game. All entered teams get ranked against one another in a leaderboard, based on the players’ performance in real-life games.

Earlier this month, Sorare announced a partnership with Spain’s top professional men’s football league, La Liga, to launch NFTs for all of its players – allowing gamers to trade and play with digital cards of the players in the league.

2021 has been a good year for the Paris-based gaming start-up that was founded in 2018 by Julia and his colleague and CTO Adrien Montfort. “In 2021, more footballers, clubs and football fans around the world embraced Sorare’s NFT fantasy model and discovered a new and deeper connection with football,” Julia wrote.

“We now have over 180 clubs, 6,000 licensed footballers, and 600,000 registered users and we’re only getting started. We are innovative, and have built a model that has set the foundations for the next sports entertainment giant.”

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com