Nike just acquired a virtual shoe startup that creates NFTs and sneakers tailored for the metaverse
Nike has announced that they are acquiring the NFT studio RTFKT (pronounced “artifact”), which specializes in crypto collectibles.
The news of the acquisition comes at a good moment for RTFKT, as the company is presently working on one of the most talked-about NFT projects of the month, CloneX, a massive avatar collaboration with artist Takashi Murakami. According to crypto tracker CryptoSlam, the project has already witnessed approximately $65 million in transaction volume since its initial drop less than three weeks ago.
“This acquisition is another step that accelerates Nike’s digital transformation and allows us to serve athletes and creators at the intersection of sport, creativity, gaming and culture,” says John Donahoe, President and CEO of NIKE, Inc. “We’re acquiring a very talented team of creators with an authentic and connected brand. Our plan is to invest in the RTFKT brand, serve and grow their innovative and creative community and extend Nike’s digital footprint and capabilities.”
The purchase appears to be a wonderful match. A hybrid NFT/physical shoe collectible inspired by the iconic CryptoPunks NFT collection is one of RTFKT’s flagship products, and the initiative made headlines in March when a digital footwear collaboration with prolific non-fungible token artist FEWOCiOUS sold $3.1 million in metaverse kicks. Meanwhile, Nike began researching blockchain technology in 2019 and even filed a patent for tokenized sneakers.
The acquisition’s terms were not disclosed. In May, the startup raised a $8 million seed round headed by Andreessen Horowitz, valuing it at $33.3 million.
“This is a unique opportunity to build the RTFKT brand and we are excited to benefit from Nike’s foundational strength and expertise to build the communities we love,” says Benoit Pagotto, one of RTFKT’s co-founders. “Nike is the only brand in the world that shares the deep passion we all have for innovation, creativity and community, and we’re excited to grow our brand which was fully formed in the metaverse.”