Sorare, an Ethereum-based fantasy soccer game based around NFT trading cards, has grown significantly in 2021 with a rising player base and sizable trading volume, not to mention dozens of new licensed teams in the mix. Today, the French startup put an exclamation mark on that upward momentum with the announcement of a $680 million funding round.
The $680 million Series B round values the company at $4.3 billion and follows a $50 million Series A round that was announced back in February. This new Series B round was led by Japanese tech and investment conglomerate SoftBank, which has a number of existing crypto industry dealings, particularly through its SBI Holdings financial services division.
Sorare is currently focused specifically on soccer, with players from more than 175 licensed clubs available in the game. Popular clubs like FC Barcelona, Juventus FC, and Paris Saint-Germain FC are part of Sorare, as is the United States’ Major League Soccer Players Association—just the players, not the clubs themselves.
Nicolas Julia, co-founder and CEO of Sorare, told Decrypt this week that the company plans to expand into other sports, as well. It will also open a United States-based office in the coming months to “help us continue to grow with fans and sports leagues” in the country, he said.
“We have ambitious plans to keep growing Sorare into a sports entertainment giant,” Julia said. “The new funding will be used to help us continue to grow a world-class team, expand to new leagues and new sports, and keep improving our experience for users, including shipping a mobile app."
Like Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot, Sorare is built around NFTs based on professional athletes. An NFT acts like a deed of ownership to a provably scarce digital item. In the case of Sorare, it’s a digital trading card that can be bought and resold, with each available in limited quantities. One such NFT card sold for nearly $290,000 worth of ETH in March, for example.
Unlike Top Shot, however, Sorare has an ongoing game component. It’s similar to other fantasy sports in that you can choose a lineup of pro players each week and enter leagues with other users, earning points based on your players’ respective real-world performances. With Sorare, you can only build your team with the player cards you own, but there are rewards in the form of rare cards and ETH.
According to the company, Sorare has seen more than $150 million worth of trading volume since the start of 2021, and has more than 600,000 registered users on the platform. Sorare aims to onboard the top 20 soccer leagues and top 50 soccer associations around the world, as well as bring in women’s soccer clubs to join the current selection of men’s teams.
The $680 million Series B round—which Sorare dubbed Europe’s largest to date—also includes participation from new investors Atomico, D1 Capital, Bessemer Ventures, Eurazeo, IVP, and Liontree, as well as existing Sorare investors Accel, Benchmark, and Headline.
Professional soccer players Gerard Piqué, Antoine Griezmann, Rio Ferdinand, and César Azpilicueta also invested in this round. February’s Series A round, meanwhile, included notable investors such as entrepreneur and NFT enthusiast Gary Vaynerchuk, as well as Seven Seven Six founder and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Sorare also has close ties to leading game publisher Ubisoft. The startup took part in Ubisoft’s Entrepreneurs Lab accelerator program, plus the companies collaborated this spring on One Shot League, a Sorare spinoff game focused on Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League.
Editor's note: This story was updated after publication to remove mention of Hillhouse as it did not participate in the Series B raise despite initially being listed by Sorare as an investor in this round.