Nike continues its march into virtual spaces with news it’s acquired London-based RTFKT (pronounced artifact), a non fungible token (NFT) company focused on creating sneakers designs, memes and collectible exclusives targeting the Gen Z consumer.
Commenting on the acquisition, Nike CEO John Donahoe stated, “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.”
RTFKT was founded in January 2020 by Benoi Pagotto, Chris Le and Steven Vasilev. A recent RTFKT avatar collection made in collab with Takashi Murakami has racked up nearly $55.4 million in transaction volume. The platform also made a big splash when it partnered with 18-year-old artist FEWOCIOUS on a capsule of collectible sneakers, which boasted over $3 million worth of digital sneakers in under seven minutes.
While the price Nike paid hasn’t been made public, the company was valued at $33 million in May after raising $8 million in funding led by investor Andreessen Horowitz, valuing the company at $33.3 million. The purchase follows on the heels of Nike partnering with Roblox for a dedicated space within the game.
Prior to purchasing Roblox, Nike filed several trademarks laying the groundwork for branded sneakers and apparel. Nike has also posting job listings seeking people with expertise in virtual design. As well, the Beaverton, Oregon-based company has hired Andrew Schwartz as director of metaverse engineering.
The purchase comes amidst plunging crypto prices with Bitcoin dropping below $46,000 in Monday, the lowest it’s been since early October.