Nike just acquired a virtual goods company as it accelerates its metaverse play

Nike just acquired a virtual goods company as it accelerates its metaverse play
Nike, Jordan, Converse, and RTFKT logosNike
  • Nike on Monday said it acquired RTFKT, an "influential" company that makes digital sneakers.
  • Business Insider previously reported on Nike's extensive efforts to capitalize on the metaverse.

Nike on Monday announced the acquisition of RTFKT, a company that makes digital sneakers, the latest sign that the sportswear giant sees enormous financial potential in the new immersive reality unknown as the metaverse.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Business Insider recently reported on Nike's extensive metaverse efforts, which also include video games and the creation of a Metaverse Studio. While Nike is building capabilities in-house, the RTFKT acquisition could speed up that work given RTFKT's advanced position when it comes to digital collectibles that can be inserted in virtual worlds and video games.

In a note to investors, Stifel analyst Jim Duffy said the acquisition could "accelerate the long-anticipated launch of CryptoKicks," or Nike virtual sneakers.

RTFKT, which launched in 2020, currently has 15 employees and has raised $9.42 million from investors, according to PitchBook. The company was valued at $33 million in May. Its fundraising included an $8.12 million seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz, according to PitchBook.


While less than two years old, RTFKT had already made a splash, including landing on CNBC's "Squawk Alley" in March after it said it sold $3.1 million in digital sneakers in 7 minutes. It also did a collaboration with celebrated sneaker designer Jeff Staple and another with the noted Japanese artist Takashi Murakami that's generated $65 million in transactions in less than three weeks.

On Twitter, sneaker analyst Chris Burns described RTFKT as "influential."

But Nike still hasn't won over critics who question the value of digital sneakers, especially for a company that's historically focused on meeting the needs of elite athletes.

"The company that does marketing better than any company in human history is about to start marketing things that no one needs and that have a (more or less) 100 percent profit margin," wrote longtime sneaker journalist Russ Bengtson on Twitter.

Nike has made six acquisitions since 2018, according to PitchBook. Each company has been focused on the digital side of retail, including companies that do work around machine learning, predictive analytics, and digital shopping.


Nike's current business plan, which it calls the Consumer Direct Acceleration, revolves around digital and direct sales.

If you're an Insider subscriber, you can read the full story on Nike's metaverse play here.