Virtual sneakers and collectibles creator RTFKT is the latest entity to be acquired by a massive company on its way into the metaverse.
Sportswear giant Nike announced Monday that it has acquired this virtual shoe company that leverages the blockchain technology with plans to create NFTs and sneakers for the metaverse. The company did not disclose the terms of the deal.
According to John Donahoe, president and CEO of Nike, the company is getting «a very talented team of creators with an authentic and connected brand,” with their plan being «to invest in the RTFKT brand, serve and grow their innovative and creative community and extend Nike’s digital footprint and capabilities.”
Founded in 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 era, RTFKT burst into popularity during the non-fungible token (NFT) mania that has began earlier this year. The virtual shoe company creates sneaker designs, memes, collectible exclusives, and other things that can be owned and worn across virtual worlds.
In February, the firm partnered with the 18-year-old artist Fewocious and released three virtual sneaker designs, listed respectively at USD 3,000, USD 5,000, and USD 10,000. In total, 621 pairs were sold during one seven-minute period, netting the equivalent of USD 3.1m.
Later in March, RTFKT announced a partnership with the electronic game company Atari to launch a limited Atari-themed fashion NFT series which will be available for use across numerous multiplayer blockchain games, including Decentraland, The Sandbox, and the upcoming Atari Metaverse.
The startup has also worked with CryptoPunks creator LarvaLabs to launch a series of 10,000 sneakers NFTs, one for each Punk, which will only be available to the owner of the digital avatar.
And more recently, RTFKT onboarded the artist Takashi Murakami to work on CLONE X, a series of 20,000 avatar collectibles.
As for Nike, the acquisition comes just one month after it unveiled Nikeland, a 3D virtual space where fans can connect, create, share experiences, and compete. The bespoke world has a digital showroom where users can outfit their avatars with distinct, virtual Nike products.
The deal is signed at a time when major tech companies, as well as luxury brands, are pushing deeper into the metaverse. Just recently, the investment and research arm of crypto exchange KuCoin announced a USD 100m fund dedicated to the metaverse.
Prior to that, Facebook, now Meta, had announced a USD 50m fund to «responsibly» develop the metaverse.
Further, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, unveiled in early November that the company is «creating an entirely new platform layer, which is the metaverse.»