Nike just bought a virtual shoe company that makes NFTs and sneakers ‘for the metaverse’
NIKE acquires RTFKT to step into the metaverse. RTFKT makes shoes too, but they only exist digitally
NIKE, Inc. today announced the acquisition of RTFKT, a leading brand that leverages cutting edge innovation to deliver next generation collectibles that merge culture and gaming.
Back in October, Nike had filed trademark applications as part of its preparations to sell virtual sneakers and apparel, according to CNBC. Now, the footwear and sports apparel giant has acquired the startup that will help the company accelerate its “digital transformation.” RTFKT was founded in early 2020 and has since made a name for itself designing and creating what it calls “Metaverse-ready sneakers and collectibles” — all digital goods people pay very real money for.
Why the acquisition is so important
While announcing the deal, Nike positioned RTFKT’s lightning bolt-style logo alongside its own iconic swoosh, Jumpman, and Converse marks. Those brands have decades of history, built on high-level athletic endorsements, distinctive designs, and a grassroots culture that actually exists in the real world. RTFKT, meanwhile, was founded in January 2020. It says that “the human development in consciousness has accelerated faster than anticipated. We are here to accelerate our digital future now.”
“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.”
This is the kind of vision that Nike is buying into, crediting the company’s founder Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le, and Steven Vasilev with leveraging “the latest in game engines, NFTs, blockchain authentication and augmented reality to create one of a kind virtual products and experiences.”
Earlier this month, Adidas announced a partnership with NFT project Bored Apes Yacht Club.
Founded in 2020, by Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le and Steven Vasilev, RTFKT is a pioneering and innovative brand that redefines the boundaries of physical and digital value to serve their broad community of creators. This dedicated team leverages the latest in game engines, NFTs, blockchain authentication and augmented reality to create one of a kind virtual products and experiences.
Announcing the acquistion, Nike called RTFKT “a leading brand that leverages cutting edge innovation to deliver next generation collectibles that merge culture and gaming.”
RTFKT claims that in February, a collaboration with teenage artist FEWOCiOUS to sell real sneakers paired with virtual ones managed to sell some 600 pairs/NFTs in just six minutes, netting over $3.1 million at the time. This was around the same early spring period when most of us were hearing about NFTs for the first time, as Grimes sold some $6 million worth of digital artwork on March 1st.
RTFKT is moving forward, and just yesterday the A16Z-backed startup launched the Clone X NFT collaboration with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, offering up a number of metaverse-ready digital avatars styled with various collectible traits.