Cash Infused Dapper Labs Expands Sports Metaverse With Exclusive Soccer Deal Hoping To Unlock Future Of Fandom

Cash Infused Dapper Labs Expands Sports Metaverse With Exclusive Soccer Deal Hoping To Unlock Future Of Fandom

Fandom is the state or condition of being a fan of something. There are fans of music, food, authors, and sports. American football, soccer (football), basketball, tennis, the UFC - all these are examples of sports that have big, passionate fan bases. Fans love being part of their team. It’s not enough to watch a game. There’s attending a game in person, wearing a player’s jersey number, owning a sports jersey the player wore, owning a ball from the game, and even owning a moment from the game. That’s what NBA Top Shots did.

Dapper Labs joined with the NBA to create collectible moments on the blockchain. “It’s a new era of fandom” the NBA Top Shot website reads. They’re not wrong. The NBA released a limited number of officially licensed moments on the Dapper Labs Flow blockchain. NBA Top Shot has over 10 million marketplace transactions and more than $700 million in sales. They found a utility and market for their sport collectible NFTs.

Now Dapper Labs has expanded to service fans of football. “We’re also planning to expand everything we’ve learned to serve the 3 billion other sports fans in the world –– and letting those communities interact and share liquidity across their marketplaces as well,” said Roham Gharegozlou, CEO of Dapper Labs. Dapper Labs announced their partnership with La Liga to launch the same digital collectible experience for fans of clubs that include Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, and many others from over 10 seasons of play. The partnership will give Dapper Labs exclusivity over the league’s video NFTs. “The amazing thing here is that FCB and Real Madrid have more than 500 million followers on their social media channels alone,” said Gharegozlou.

Dapper Labs sees this partnership as more than launching NFTs and social media follower counts. Partnering with sports leagues and harnessing fan power is the foundation of fandom in the metaverse. “It’s the first step into a virtual world of football,” said Caty Tedman, head of partnerships for Dapper Labs. “The assets, which not only live in our universe, can also be used/displayed/shown off in the metaverse.”

One thing brands struggle with is defining value for NFTs. That’s not an issue for Dapper Labs’ sports play. “[Digital collectibles] will be a unit of fandom across the blockchain ecosystem to showcase your authenticity as a football fan,” said Tedman. “Football is one of, if not the, biggest sports on earth and this is an enormous step toward full mainstream adoption of blockchain technology.”

“Fandom is fast becoming the dominant currency, both commercially and culturally, thanks to new advances in blockchain and NFTs, which Dapper Labs have already proven with Top Shot,” said Zoe Scaman, founder of Bodacious. “We’re seeing a huge shift in behavior, from fans as passive and minimally participative, to fans as active, embracing new forms of ownership and steering their experiences accordingly. Leagues and teams are recognizing the potential inherent within this and are embracing it with open arms.”

La Liga isn’t the only one to recognize Dapper Labs play for the metaverse. Dapper Labs raised a new $250 million funding round. The round was led by Coatue and included investors a16z, GV, and Version One Ventures with new investors including BOND. The investors, according to the press release, “believe in the long-term potential of Dapper Labs’ vision, its marquee titles including NBA Top Shot, which is one of the world’s fastest growing marketplaces, as well as the consumer-facing Flow blockchain.”

Dapper Labs’ ability to support a fan-friendly NFT platform along with investors who call Dapper Labs’ blockchain “consumer-facing” are positive indicators of brands, investors, and companies embracing the metaverse. “Coatue has been investing in technology trends for over 20 years and web 3.0 is one of the most exciting trends we’ve seen,” said Dan Rose, Chairman, Coatue Ventures. “We think Dapper Labs is a leader in the space at the infrastructure level with Flow blockchain and in the application layer with NBA TopShot. We continue to be impressed by Roham’s strong leadership and vision and we could not be more proud to partner with him and the entire team at Dapper.”

The Future of Dapper Labs

Dapper Labs’ expansion of digital collectibles to other sports leagues like La Liga doesn’t mean they’re done with the NBA. “We see Top Shot as the home for a billion NBA fans so lots of work to do there,” said Gharegozlou. “Part of this funding will go toward expanding functionality on NBA Top shot, developing a mobile product, and connecting the digital collecting experience with the experience of a fan showing up to a live game, or even supporting their team on social media.”

To support the expansion, Dapper Labs continues to build its decentralized blockchain. “But what I get most excited about is the more than 3000 developers building on top of the Flow blockchain. We have scrappy indie developers like Chainmonsters which has been getting a lot of traction recently (Recently sold out their Genesis drop for $1.1 million. Also experienced 5x growth compared to last quarter alone, or 10x YoY) to Fortune 500 companies like Warner and Shopify who have chosen Flow as their platform of choice for NFTs,” said Gharegozlou.

“You might’ve seen our recent partnership announcement with Google, supporting the scale that’s emerging,” said Gharegozlou. The partnership lets Flow nodes operate on Google’s low latency cloud service. Gharegozlou explained, “A small portion of the funding will be used to invest in the ecosystem of startups that are starting to build on top of Flow, companies like Genies and Alchemy which are well known, or smaller groups like Recordshop who was founded by the former CTO of Andela and is having really great success in beta.”

Gharegozlou is paving the way for digital innovation through Dapper Labs, strategic partnerships, and finding the right way to engage consumers on the blockchain. “Life is increasingly digital,” he said. “That’s where people are spending time — In 2020, US adults spent 7 hours, 50 minutes per day consuming digital media.”

The Future Of Fandom

Dapper Labs’ success with NBA Top Shot, and no doubt La Liga, will grow as fans demand more access to their teams in the metaverse. As one Top Shots fan wrote, “even for peripheral fans of La Liga, like me, this will likely serve as an introduction and on-boarding experience to the league…” and possible the metaverse.

Scaman sums it up nicely,”What we’re seeing from Dapper Labs now, in terms of unlocking fandom through memorable moments and digital collectibles, is still a nascent use case. There’s so much more to come in terms of how fans will be able to leverage blockchain-built apps to gamify their collectibles, to create their own, to collaborate on projects with teams, to earn from trading their assets, to engage in governance and decision making, to granting them new forms of access, to creating IP and worldbuilding…the possibilities are enormous and we’re only just scratching the surface.”

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