Nike Expands into Metaverse with the Acquisition of Virtual Sneaker Company

Sportswear giant Nike is the latest one to join the metaverse as it announced the acquisition of virtual sneaker company RTFKT for an undisclosed sum.

This is the latest move by Nike to expand its footprint in the metaverse; after last month, it revealed its digital space called “NIKELAND” on video game platform Roblox Corp, allowing players to outfit their avatar with special products.

“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,” Nike CEO John Donahoe said in a statement.

RTFKT was formed in 2020 by Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le, and Steven Vasilev that also make NFT collectibles and memes. It leverages NFTs, game engines, augmented reality, and blockchain authentication to create virtual products and experiences.

“We will continue to evolve our brand, innovations, products, and community with NIKE resources and talents,” said the company late on Monday.

Earlier this year, RTFKT collaborated with artist FEWOCiOUS to sell real sneakers paired with virtual ones. It managed to sell about 600 pairs along with its NFTs in just seven minutes for $3.1 million.

This marks a big move by yet another big brand after Facebook renamed itself, Meta. The global metaverse market is expected to reach $41.62 billion by 2026, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

However, not everyone, especially the crypto market, isn’t really happy with the big brands moving into the metaverse and trying to gain dominance here.

Just this week, the New York Times reported how Facebook disabled the nine-year-old Instagram account of Thea-Mai Baumann due to her handle being @metaverse. “Your account has been blocked for pretending to be someone else,” was the message that she received. Her account has since been restored.

This metaverse account disabling “highlights the breadth of this (Facebook’s) power,” said Rebecca Giblin, director of the Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia at the University of Melbourne, adding that under Facebook’s policies, users “essentially have no rights.”

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