Sorare building top NFT gaming platform for global football fans

Bessemer participates in the $680 million Series B for the Paris-based startup, which is building at the nexus of NFTs, collectibles, and global fantasy sports.

Few global phenomena produce as much fervent passion and enthusiasm at scale as sporting events. And football has the largest fanbase by nearly every measure imaginable. The most recent FIFA World Cup in 2018 reached a combined 3.6 billion viewers around the world, and the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019 drew a combined 1.2 billion viewers to the final match alone.

Since Bessemer’s early stage investments in MakersPlace, Fold, NYDIG, and TRM Labs, we have been searching for the next ambitious team going after the intersection of collectibles, gaming, and NFTs — a market that has had $2.5 billion in transaction volume in 2021 so far alone.

We’re excited to partner with co-founder and CEO Nicolas Julia and the entire Sorare team, and announce our participation in the company’s $680 million Series B financing.

Sorare is a fantasy game of soccer, where players buy, sell, trade and manage a virtual team with digital player cards stored on the Ethereum blockchain as NFTs. Players, as team managers, compose teams of five soccer players from cards on the Sorare platform. Lineups are ranked based on the performance of their players on the real-world pitch and are attributed points accordingly. Sorare has already signed an astounding 130+ licensing agreements thus far, including some of the world’s most popular teams and leagues such as Real Madrid, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, PSG, and most recently, LaLiga. The company has experienced tremendous growth this year with over $150 million worth of cards traded on the platform since January, and the number of active monthly paying users growing 34x between Q2 2020 and Q2 2021.

"The team at Sorare is uniquely positioned to build the next de-facto game and engagement platform for the world’s largest sports fanbase,” said Ethan Kurzweil, Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. “Blockchain gaming has enabled an additional layer of collectability within the Sorare ecosystem and fantasy fanatics will soon forget they ever played without it.”

Our thesis on blockchain gaming hinges on leveraging existing consumer behaviors and proven game mechanics that will be augmented by crypto and blockchain technology like NFTs. Over 7 million people played Fantasy Premier League during the 2019-2020 season alone, and the English Premier League is just one of 21 professional soccer leagues worldwide. Sorare’s cards and ecosystem add an extra layer of engagement for fans as they work to collect and own cards from clubs across the globe that are both rare and personally meaningful. The cards ultimately represent an opportunity for fans to display their passion for their favorite players and teams to others in the community.

We believe NFTs will serve as one of the main entry points for the mass market into new-age gaming ecosystems. Companies like Sorare are at the forefront of this movement by abstracting away the complexity of the blockchain via a simple and intuitive user interface. In fact, many of Sorare's users learned about the Ethereum blockchain for the first time when onboarding onto the game. The platform is poised to be the layer powering all sports-related NFT games in the future through their licenses and relationship with fans. The company is one example in a larger macrotrend — NFTs are “minting” entire industries! As gaming and crypto continue to converge, we expect to see Sorare play a critical role in ushering the broader culture into the world of Web3.