Stakes, a non-fungible token (NFT) startup that puts a Web 3 spin on the traditional sports betting format, has raised a $5.3 million seed round led by Digital Currency Group (DCG), FBG Capital and CMS Holdings, the company announced Wednesday. (DCG is the parent company of an editorially independent CoinDesk.)
The free-to-play platform is based around “social wagering,” where users can make sports predictions that are publicly available for friends and other users to wager against.
Winning picks are then minted as NFTs, functionally becoming what the platform calls “digital bragging rights,” backed by virtual coins not tied to any real currency.
Kevin Wang, CEO of Stakes, says the platform taps into research showing that people who play fantasy sports value the social elements far more than monetary opportunities.
“Our whole thesis is that most sports fans are not going to become like degenerate, hardcore gamblers,” Wang told CoinDesk in an interview. “And so we wanted to create a more social experience.”
Wang also believes the platform will also allow sports fans to “empirically show off their fandom,” with users who consistently make the most accurate predictions being able to rise up the fan leaderboards of their respective franchises.
Stakes is currently available in the App Store in open beta, with over 8,000 NFTs minted among 2,500 users, with the bulk of its growth coming during the last National Football League (NFL) season, according to a press release.
The platform falls into the larger genre of companies trying to tokenize fandom, whether it be with sports, music or other forms of entertainment through NFTs and social tokens.
LD Capital, Cadenza Ventures, Matrixport Ventures and Sterling Select Group were also participants in the round.
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