NFTs: After football, Sorare tackles American baseball

Just a week after the application’s launch, Sorare announced a major partnership in the United States on Thursday, May 12. The French unicorn has signed a contract with Major League Baseball (MLB) and its players’ association to issue digital maps depicting athletes in this professional league. Trading cards in the form of non-fungible tokens, better known by the abbreviation NFTs. But also to play. Like the “fantasy football” game the company has already developed, the NFTs associated with MLB will be accompanied by a game dedicated to baseball and the league’s 30 teams – 29 American and one Canadian – members.

All this, still on a free-to-play model, so future cardholders will be able to play it for free. “The game and the NFTs are scheduled to launch around the summer,” said Thibault Predhomme, Sorare’s director of operations. The value of the cards must change and adapt live, based on the performance of baseball players on the field, in real games in the real world.

First major contract outside of football

For the start-up, this partnership with the MLB represents “the first major contract outside of football,” notes Thibault Predhomme. And already the second concluded in North America, the company joined forces with Major League Soccer, the professional soccer league that once again brings together American and Canadian teams, at the end of March.

“Our partnership will enable a new and wider community of fans to build a solid connection to this quintessentially American hobby,” said Nicolas Julia, Sorare’s co-founder and CEO, in a press release. The start-up has always set itself the goal of strengthening supporter and fan engagement by providing clubs with cards that represent their players.

The use of NFTs makes it possible to guarantee ownership and traceability of transactions on the blockchain as the cards can be resold. Sorare, whose business she says has always been profitable, finances itself by taking a commission on each of her NFTs newly issued and bought by fans.

New York Office and Serena Williams on the Board

After rapid development in Europe, where it has licenses from nearly 250 clubs and has partnered directly with the Spanish (LaLiga) and German (Bundesliga) football championships, Sorare is betting heavily on the highly lucrative US leagues. In order to better address the United States, the start-up has recruited tennis player Serena Williams in particular on its board of directors. It also opened an office in New York a few months ago, where it already has as many employees – 45 in total – as in Paris.

Major US leagues have not waited for Sorare to seize NFTs, such as the Candy Digital platform, which has been trading NFTs under an official license from Major League Baseball since January. But the French company mainly adds the “game” dimension.

Thanks to its new contracts across the Atlantic, Sorare hopes to encourage its users to open up to other sports and plans to let them play continuously. “The European seasons end at the end of May-beginning of June, followed by a slack period until early or mid-August. A period in which it is high season for baseball in the United States,” continues Thibault Predhomme.

flying unicorn

Since its inception in 2018, Sorare has seen a meteoric rise. The start-up became a unicorn in 2021, after a new fundraising of around 580 million euros in September. It was valued during this operation at 3.4 billion dollars, or about 2.90 billion euros (at the then exchange rate).

Sorare has grown from a trading volume of its NFTs of $7 million in 2020 to 325 million in 2021. The launch of its mobile application last week, which complements its website, should only bolster society’s growth. As of March 2022, it claims 370,000 monthly active users in 185 countries. And Sorare doesn’t want to stay with that. The unicorn wants to conquer other sports, other leagues and other clubs, to win users over and over again.

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