Non-fungible token (NFT) platform RECUR has announced a $50 million Series A round of funding at a $333 million valuation. In addition, RECUR also revealed the launch of NFTU, a digital marketplace for collegiate sports collectibles, enabled by a partnership with collegiate trademark licensing company CLC and Veritone.
The investment was led by metaverse investment firm Digital, founded by the family office of investor Steve Cohen, the owner of the MLB team New York Mets. Cohen will serve on the board of RECUR.
Athlete monetization in collegiate sports has been a heated topic over the last couple of years. Until recently, the NCAA, the governing body of collegiate sports, did not allow student athletes to financially benefit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL).
In 2019, the athletic revenue from all NCAA athletic departments totaled $18.9 billion. Athletes deemed it unfair not to earn any revenue when the industry is so reliant upon them.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled NCAA’s policy of restricting athlete compensation violated antitrust laws. Following the legal case, at the end of June, the NCAA published a more permissive NIL policy.
It could not be better timing for RECUR and NFTs in collegiate athletics in general. All the possibilities to monetize their image can get a bit overwhelming, and the partnership between RECUR, CLC, and Veritone gives a straightforward option for athletes to enter the digital collectibles space, which is becoming a popular practice amongst professional athletes.
Veritone is an artificial intelligence technology company that has Pac-12’s exclusive content licensing rights. Pac-12 is a network of 12 Universities on the East Coast of the United States that offer some of the world’s most prestigious collegiate athletics programs. In the 2019-2020 season, the conference competitions reported total revenues of $534 million.
RECUR will have access to approved highlights from Pac-12 games across all available sports through the partnership with Veritone and mint them as NFTs. Student athletes will be involved in the process and receive royalties for having their video highlights as a digital asset on NFTU.
“Consistent with the innovative spirit that drives Pac-12 Networks and the Pac-12 Conference, we are thrilled to be leading the way in collegiate sport content licensing for NFTs,” said Pac-12 Networks Senior Manager for Distribution and Licensing Kenden Blake. “This new partnership between Pac-12 Networks, Veritone and RECUR will unlock new ways to deliver the college sports content fans love, now through NFTs.”
RECUR completed a seed-raise of $5 million in March. Investors included the Winklevoss Twins’ Gemini, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jason Derulo, and JST Capital.
Meanwhile, other platforms looking to license athletes NIL to launch their NFT collections include Tom Brady’s Autograph, Fanatics’ backed Candy and Spencer Dinwiddie’s Calaxy.