Web3 made in France weaves its web

In the boundless world of Web3, France weaves an increasingly strong web. Among the herd of French Tech unicorns, these start-ups valued at more than $1 billion, two French successes have recently emerged as world leaders in blockchain. Sorare, which has developed a fantasy sports game based on digital cards in the form of NFTs, achieved a historic seed round of $680 million at the end of 2021, bringing the valuation to more than €4 billion. With the ambition to become a “giant of entertainment 3.0”, the model developed by Nicolas Julia and Adrien Monfort in 2019 continues its international growth with a partnership signed last May with Major League Baseball in the United States.

A few months earlier, Ledger, whose factory is located in Vierzon (Cher), had risen to the rank of unicorn with a financing round of 380 million euros. The digital wallet company is now valued at over $1.5 billion. But the director, Pascal Gauthier, sees things on a large scale and told “Les Echos” that he was aiming for “a valuation of $100 billion”. Ledger quickly became a global benchmark and today has more than 3 million customers in 190 countries. The company claims that it secures about 15% of all cryptocurrencies worldwide.

“Fertile Ecosystem”

Building on this dominant position in their sector, Sorare and Ledger are among the fifty or so French digital players who have decided to join forces to create the NFT Factory, a 400 square meter space that will serve as a showcase of the ecosystem in Paris. A “fertile ecosystem”, according to Thibaud Elzière, the co-founder of the famous start-up studio eFounders, which has just launched a vertical dedicated to Web3 called “3Founders”.

“Since the announcement of the launch, we have been inundated with requests from entrepreneurs who want to join us in this new El Dorado,” explains Thibaud Elzière. The first project to be launched is Cohort, a platform that allows brands to offer their customers exclusive experiences through NFTs. “There are many sectors that are disrupted by the blockchain, and France has the talents capable of meeting this challenge,” estimates the one who has already participated in the release of two other tricolor unicorns, Aircall and Spendesk.

But it is not only the ‘start-up nation’ that has set its sights on the internet of the future. If the blockchain has already made a name for itself in certain major French groups for its ability to trace and guarantee the authenticity of certain services or products, more and more French companies do not want to miss this technological turning point and invest.

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In its latest “Blockchain and Crypto” report, the PwC firm notes that 61% of French companies that have invested in blockchain and crypto assets turned a profit in 2021. “It is no longer a matter of a few projects with moderate resources, but indeed a blockchain and crypto tidal wave that includes traditional companies and pure players, SMEs and large groups, French and international companies,” the company underlines.

In addition, investing in Web3 offers French companies the opportunity to “liberate themselves from international platforms to reclaim their digital sovereignty thanks to decentralized technologies”, according to Frédéric Montagnon, head of Arianee, a start-up specializing in NFTs that just raised 20 million euros.

More and more French companies are even considering joining forces with, or even acquiring, a pure player in the sector in the next three years, and 28% of large or medium-sized companies are now considering this option. Like Sorare, which claims nearly 325 million in revenue in 2021, French pure players are attractive for their ability to grow rapidly. Internationally, they have 44% annual growth of more than 50%, compared to 70% in France.

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