how you can use NFTs to play fantasy sports

Gaming has long been at the forefront of innovation, says Nicolas Julia, CEO and cofounder of Sorare. His company is bringing together people who love sports, collectibles and community, and serving as the vehicle to learn about NFTs and get comfortable with the technology. 

On this week’s Most Innovative Companies Podcast, Julia explains how he’s translated a love for soccer and a passion for collecting into a community backed by athletes. Sorare has quickly grown to include major league baseball and will soon include the NBA also, all under one premise: Own Your Game.

Ownership is a primary concern for Julia, and something which he has been trying to place back into the hands of both players and collectors. “There are billions of dollars that are being spent everyday in games, and I think that it’s crazy to think that today, the vast majority of [game items] are not owned by the gamers,” he says. “They cannot resell them, they cannot move them and we want to help change that.”

That’s why he hopes that those collecting through Sorare can also connect in the physical world, by either playing or watching sport or both. “That’s something that’s very important to me. I really don’t want to contribute to this hyper connection that we’re living in. I want to help at least stabilize it, if not decrease it.”

He says he wants to be a “good” actor. “I think when any radical innovation emerges, there’s a lot of good actors and a lot of bad actors as well, and lots of people during the hype that come for the bad reasons and that’s hard for everyone.” As he explains it, the debate and dialogue surrounding NFTs is a side effect of people experiencing and applying something new to the world they live in. 

But as Julia says, he’s not truly in the NFT business—he’s in the collectible and fantasy sports business. “We don’t market NFTs. It’s just the underlying technology that makes sense for the product that we are building. If you want to preserve scarcity in the digital world, you need NFTs. If you want to enable portability for your accounts and make them usable in different games or experiences, this is the right fit.”

“The conversation the last couple of months has been about NFTs as a space, as a category, as a market, but it’s not any of that—it’s just a technology,” he says. Or, as he sees it, a means to an end. A form of technology that makes connections—with friends, with passions, with community—possible. A collectible which itself facilitates connection. 

Sorare, Julia explains, is ultimately a game, and a fun one at that. “It’s very exciting for sports fans because they can play all the roles that exist in a team,” he says. That includes the roles of owner, sports director, coach and of course, player, as well as all of the related responsibilities that accompany each, from tracking talent, to management, to play. “You truly own these cards, and you can play them across the season and you can sell them freely.” 

While it’s the technology which facilitates true ownership, Julia is adamant that fans should experience the benefits without getting bogged down in the technicalities of it all. Comparing Sorare to Spotify, he explains it this way: when you listen to a playlist you’re intent on enjoying the music—and that’s how it should be. Yes, that music was brought to you by artificial intelligence, but that’s just a detail that doesn’t need to be explained.

Listen to the episode for the full interview.

You can listen and subscribe to Most Innovative Companies on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

James Vincent is the guest host of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies podcast. He is also a partner and CEO of FNDR, where he has helped founders of some of the world’s biggest companies, including Airbnb and Snap, use the power of narrative to give voice to their vision. Before FNDR and for over a decade, James worked alongside Steve Jobs building Apple’s narrative.

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