Just one week after launching its application, Sorare announced on Thursday May 12 a major partnership in the United States. The French unicorn has signed with Major League Baseball (MLB) and its players’ association to issue digital cards bearing the image of athletes in this professional league. Trading cards in the form of non-fungible tokens, better known by the acronym NFTs. But also to play. Like the “fantasy football” game that the company has already developed, the NFTs associated with MLB will be accompanied by a game dedicated to baseball and the 30 teams – 29 American and one Canadian – members of the league. .
All this, still on a free-to-play model: future card owners will therefore be able to play it for free. “The launch of the game and the NFTs is planned around the summer”, specifies Thibault Predhomme, director of operations at Sorare. The value of the cards should change and adjust live, based on the performance of baseball players on the field, in real games in the real world.
First big contract outside of football
For the start-up, this partnership with the MLB represents “the first big contract outside of football”, notes Thibault Predhomme. And it is already the second concluded in North America, the company having joined forces at the end of March with Major League Soccer, the professional football league again bringing together American and Canadian teams.
“Our partnership will allow a new and broader community of fans to create a solid connection with this typical American hobby,” said Nicolas Julia, co-founder and general manager of Sorare, in a press release. The start-up has always set itself the goal of strengthening the commitment of supporters and fans by offering clubs to market cards that represent their players.
The use of NFTs makes it possible to guarantee the ownership and traceability of transactions on the blockchain, as the cards can be resold. Sorare, whose activity has always been profitable according to her, finances herself by taking a commission on each of her NFTs newly issued and purchased by fans.
New York Office and Serena Williams on the Board
After rapidly developing in Europe, where it has licenses from nearly 250 clubs and has signed partnerships directly with the Spanish (LaLiga) and German (Bundesliga) football championships, Sorare is betting heavily on the very lucrative American leagues. To better appeal to the United States, the start-up has notably recruited tennis player Serena Williams to its board of directors. It also opened an office a few months ago in New York, where it already has as many employees – 45 in total – as in Paris.
Major American leagues did not wait for Sorare to seize NFTs, like the Candy Digital platform, which has been trading NFTs under official license from Major League Baseball since January. But the French company brings in particular the “game” dimension in addition.
Thanks to its new contracts across the Atlantic, Sorare hopes to encourage its users to open up to other sports and intends to allow them to play continuously. “The European seasons end towards the end of May-beginning of June, then follows a slack period until the beginning or mid-August. A period during which it is the high season for baseball in the United States”, advances Thibault Predhomme.
Unicorn of the meteoric rise
Since its creation in 2018, Sorare has experienced a meteoric rise. The start-up became a unicorn in 2021, following a new fundraising of around 580 million euros in September. It was valued at 3.4 billion dollars during this operation, or approximately 2.90 billion euros (at the exchange rate of the time).
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 reinforce the growth of the society. As of March 2022, it claims 370,000 monthly active users across 185 countries. And Sorare does not intend to stop there. The unicorn wants to conquer other sports, other leagues and other clubs, to gain users again and again.
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NFTs: after football, Sorare tackles American baseball
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