Nike Expands Its Metaverse Presence With The Acquisition Of RTFKT

By acquiring RTFKT Studios, a virtual sneaker and collectibles company, Nike is taking another step into the metaverse.

While the deal is already being seen by many as Nike’s way of saying “Just Do It” to the Web3 era, it’ll also likely signal to NFT startups and legacy clothing brands alike that the world of virtual fashion will further heat up in 2022.

RTFKT was founded in 2019. It has grown in popularity with sneaker and Web3 enthusiasts and gained momentum during the NFT boom.

In February, the startup released several virtual sneaker designs in partnership with the artist Fewocious and quickly made more than $3 million by selling more than 600 pairs of sneakers that can’t even be worn in the real world.

It collaborated with Atari on a limited-edition virtual sneaker in March. RTFKT also collaborated with artist Takashi Murakami on an NFT auction last month to sell 20,000 3D avatars from the CloneX collection.

The deal “accelerates Nike’s digital transformation and allows us to serve athletes and creators at the nexus of sport, creativity, gaming, and culture,” according to Nike President and CEO John Donahoe in a statement.

Donahoe added, “We’re acquiring a really talented team of creators with an authentic and connected brand”.  “We intend to invest in the RTFKT brand, service and build their inventive and creative community, and broaden Nike’s digital footprint and capabilities”, says the company.

In recent months, both Nike and Adidas have made investments in Web3 topics.

Nike created a Nikeland experience and virtual showroom inside the popular game Roblox in September. (Jordan Brand cooperated with Fortnite in 2019 long before that.)

Adidas announced a new relationship with Coinbase and The Sandbox, a crypto-enabled virtual platform, in November. Adidas also announced new agreements with Bored Ape Yacht Club, Punks Comic, and Gmoney earlier this month, expanding its NFT collaborations.

Nike has also applied for a number of trademarks and patents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to have its emblem used in virtual footwear, clothes, hats, and other products and apparel.

According to Crunchbase, Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le, and Steven Vasilev have received $9.5 million since launching RTFKT in 2019, including an $8 million seed round alongside Andreesen Horowtiz and Shrug Capital.

“Nike is the only brand in the world that shares our deep passion for innovation, creativity, and community”, Pagotto said in a joint statement with Nike.

Pagotto expressed excitement about the opportunity to benefit from Nike’s foundational strength and expertise to build the communities he loves through the RTFKT brand.

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