Tom Brady's NFT Company Raises $170 Million
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Tom Brady is a fascinating case study when it comes to the business of sports.
He was the 7th quarterback drafted in the 2000 NFL draft and went on to become a 7x Super Bowl champion, a 5x Super Bowl MVP, and a 3x NFL Most Valuable Player.
2000 NFL Draft Quarterbacks
Chad Pennington (1st Round)
Giovanni Carmazzi (3rd Round)
Chris Redman (3rd Round)
Tee Martin (6th Round)
Marc Bulger (6th Round)
Spergon Wynn (6th Round)
Tom Brady (6th Round)
That success enabled Brady to earn ~$300 million throughout his NFL career, which is more than any other player in history and could have been even higher if he didn’t sacrifice roughly $75 million to maximize the talent around him in a salary cap league.
But winning brings legacy; legacy brings opportunities, and opportunities bring cash.
So Brady has been just as active off the field. He has sponsorship deals with 15+ companies. He founded a performance lifestyle brand called “TB12” with his personal trainer Alex Guerrero in 2013, and he has recently launched a documentary, film, and TV programming business called “199 Productions.”
Still, I think his biggest financial win is probably happening right now.
Tom Brady is the co-founder of Autograph, an NFT-focused digital collectibles platform that just closed a $170 million Series B funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins less than a year after launching.
Here’s a summary of the news from TechCrunch:
Autograph, an NFT agency co-founded by athlete Tom Brady with a particularly deep bench of star power, has banked new funding from crypto investors who hope the platform can bring a new generation of celebrities and their fans into the fold of crypto collectibles.
The startup tells TechCrunch it has closed a $170 million Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins with participation from Katie Haun’s new fund and Lightspeed partner Nicole Quinn. This comes on the heels of a Series A round co-led by 01A and Velvet Sea Ventures that closed this past July. The raise adds three new members to the board, including Haun, a16z’s Arianna Simpson, and Kleiner Perkins’s Ilya Fushman.
They join an expansive board with some major names, including Brady, Apple’s Eddy Cue, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, and artist Abel Tesfaye, also known as The Weeknd.
And here’s what Autograph does:
Autograph is essentially an agency go-between for celebrity athletes and entertainers looking to find a personal presence in the incredibly noisy NFT world. Celebrity NFT drops have been a mixed bag since the crypto-collectibles skyrocketed to popularity early last year. While some have come into the space with thoughtful projects that reward their fans, there has also been a multitude of ridicule-generating cash grabs.
Crypto has generally been a tough place for discerning celebrities to make a dent or earn a buck without losing some of their cultural capital. Matt Damon received a fair share of ridicule this month for appearing in a corny crypto ad campaign. Earlier this week Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather were named in a lawsuit brought by disgruntled investors who had backed a token that the two had earlier endorsed.
While fellow NFT unicorn Dapper Labs has inked partnerships with a handful of overarching American sports league players associations, including the NFL Players Association and the NBA’s Player Association, Autograph seems to be more focused on the individual athletes and the cult of personality built around them outside the context of the teams they play on or leagues they are part of.
The valuation hasn’t been made public, but a $170 million Series B announcement is obviously exciting. Add in the fact that world-class investors like Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, and Katie Huan are involved, and it gets that much better.
But I think this business is fascinating for a few different reasons.
First, it’s a massive market. The total market cap of all NFT assets has grown from virtually non-existent in January 2021 to more than $12 billion today.
Secondly, Brady and his team are brilliantly attacking the market.
Rather than spending hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing or airdropping free money to the community, they licensed the exclusive NFT-rights for some of the world’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, Naomi Osaka, Usain Bolt, and others.
Their strategic partnership with DraftKings has helped, but more than anything, Autograph has been able to drum up consumer excitement and lower customer acquisition costs through premium IP — that’s a long-term winning strategy.
I think it’s fair to say that there is a long way to go here. The company is growing fast, but it’s a new, dynamic, fast-changing market. Still, my guess is that this is a story worth following, as Brady might eventually make more money from NFT’s than he does from the NFL.
I hope everyone has a great day, and we’ll talk tomorrow.
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THE JOE POMP SHOW: My conversation with Sohrob Farudi is live!
Sohrob is the founder & CEO of Fan Controlled Sports & Entertainment, an innovative new company that combines IRL professional sports with Web3 attributes like NFTs, blockchain gaming, community ownership, and more.
They recently raised $40 million from some of the best investors globally, and Sohrob joined the podcast to break down the business model.
Fan Controlled Football’s (FCF) story
What role they play in Web3
Using NFTs for team & league governance
Onboarding people to crypto
The future of play-to-earn gaming
Tokenomics in sports
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