Tennis champ and financier Serena Williams is now a board adviser for the $4.3 billion blockchain-based fantasy soccer game Sorare.
Currently, Sorare has IP license deals with 230 men’s soccer clubs and leagues. Expansion plans this year include adding at least two American sports, including women’s sports. Williams’ presence will help on that end.
“When you have the ambition to build the biggest entertainment group in the world of sports, and you have the opportunity to partner with one of the greatest athletes in history, you want that perspective,” Sorare CEO Nicolas Julia told Forbes.
Williams told Forbes tennis would be prime for NFTs.
”When we think of web3, and we think of crypto: that’s going to be the biggest space for the next several years in terms of growth,” she said.
Williams has her own venture capital firm Serena Ventures, which focuses on early-stage companies, especially Black-owned ventures. Launched in 2014, Serena Ventures has invested in 50+ early-stage start-ups.
“When I’m talking about Serena Ventures, we invest in women, we invest in people of color, that’s our thing,” Williams told Forbes. “68% or 70% of our portfolio are companies founded by women or people of color.”
Serena Ventures has funded multiple crypto companies, including Lolli, an e-commerce site that gives customers rewards in bitcoin for their purchases; Bitski, an NFT marketplace along with hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.
Williams also has a connection to soccer. Women’s soccer club Angel City FC was founded by Serena Williams along with celebrities Natalie Portman, Abby Wambach, Julie Uhrman, and Ohanian, Forbes reported.
At Sorare, Williams will advise a board featuring SoftBank CEO Marcelo Claure, who owns Spain’s second division side Girona FC, German fintech investor Christian Miele, Benchmark’s Peter Fenton (an early investor in Twitter and Yelp), and Sorare’s CEO Nicolas Julia and COO Ryan Spoon, Forbes reported.
Williams also made a personal investment in Sorare.
“I actually was introduced to Sorare through my husband,” said Williams, who is married to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who also runs the venture capital firm Seven Seven Six. He invested in Sorare as part of its $50 million series A round in February 2021.
Williams added: “Sorare does more than just collectibles. They deliver meaningful interactions between users and their favorite teams or players, which I thought was different.”
The Paris-based soccer fantasy company has been grabbing attention in the crypto sphere. It received the fifth-largest ever funding round in the crypto industry in September 2021 with $680 million in cash. It had a whopping $4.3 billion valuation.
Through Sorare, which runs on the Ethereum blockchain, users can buy NFTs of famous soccer players, create fantasy leagues, and trade players with other users. In November 2021, London auctioning house Bonhams sold a Sorare NFT card of soccer great Cristiano Ronaldo for $400,313.
Founded in 2018, Sorare is funded by Benchmark, Accel Partners, e.ventures, famous soccer players Gerard Piqué, Antoine Griezmann, and Rio Ferdinand.
Sorare had 1 million registered users by the end of December 2021. of whom 270,000 were active monthly, and 90,000 had purchased in-game NFTs.