Nike Buys Virtual Sneaker Creator RTFKT To Strengthen Its Digital Footprint

Nike is expanding its reach into the red-hot Metaverse space with the latest acquisition of RTFKT studio. RTFKT is a non-fungible token (NFT) startup that creates virtual sneakers and other collectibles.

In the announcement issued on Monday, Nike didn’t disclose the financials of the deal but confirmed that it has indeed invested in the startup.

Nike Acquires RTFKT

“We’re acquiring a very talented team of creators with an authentic and connected brand. We plan to invest in the RTFKT brand, serve and grow their innovative and creative community and extend Nike’s digital footprint and capabilities,”

says John Donahoe, Nike’s CEO.

RTFKT, pronounced as “artifact”, has gained traction this year amidst the NFT boom. The studio was formed in January 2020 by Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le, and Steven Vasilev. Its first months were marked by the onset of the pandemic.

Pagotto, one of the co-founders of RTFKT, opined that the NFT studio would benefit from the “foundational strength” offered by the sportswear heavyweight. Moreover, he mentioned that Nike was the only brand that could match the “deep passion we all have for innovation, creativity, and community.”

Despite being a startup, RTFKT has recorded major gains in the highly competitive NFT sector. In November, it partnered with a popular Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami, to unveil the Clone X collection of 3D avatars. The avatars will be used in VR spaces.

The drop has already been a success, as this month, Clone X was displayed by Harvey Nichols, a British luxury store, in its London and Hong Kong branches. Murakami’s role in the drop was iconic, given that the artist has worked with notable brands such as Louis Vuitton and Kanye West.

Sportswear Heavyweights Competing for Metaverse Dominance

Nike has made several decisions to delve into the Metaverse in recent weeks. Last month, the sportswear behemoth launched “Nikeland” on the Roblox gaming platform. Nikeland is a free 3D space for the brand.

Nike’s journey into the Metaverse started in 2019 when the company won a patent to tokenize the ownership of its shoes and the Nike logo on the Ethereum blockchain.

Nike’s top competitor, Adidas, is the other leading sportswear brand venturing into the Metaverse. Earlier this month, Adidas announced it had formed three partnerships related to the Metaverse. The partnerships involved the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), Gmoney, and Punks Comic. It is important to note that BAYC and Crypto Punks have released some of the most successful NFT drops.

Adidas released a short documentary on its collaboration with the three brands. The video shows Gmoney, one crypto punk, and one bored ape entering the Earth’s atmosphere from outer space. It also features audio of “What a wonderful world” by Louis Armstrong.

The announcement of this collaboration between Adidas and the three brands attracted much interest in the crypto space, including Coinbase that also responded, telling Adidas that they would meet in the Metaverse.

Adidas has confirmed that it has signed a partnership with Coinbase. However, it has refrained from providing any details regarding this partnership. The sportswear manufacturer responded to its commentary with the “probably nothing” phrase, which is popular on crypto Twitter.

Adidas had earlier posted on Twitter that it would create its Metaverse world on The Sandbox. The Sandbox is one of the leading networks offering a virtual world where brands can develop their virtual experiences.

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