Tiger Global and Sequoia India-backed FanCraze launches cricket NFTs in partnership with ICC


Image Credits: FanCraze

NFTs took off in many corners of the world last year, but the trading of the fast-growing blockchain-powered and verifiable digital assets is yet to make inroads in India. Now a local startup — backed by high-profile investors Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital India, Coatue Management and Dapper Labs — believes it’s cracked the code to win customers in the world’s second largest internet market.

FanCraze on Thursday launched its digital assets that capture moments of a game that is very familiar to — and often a crucial part of — 1.3 billion people’s lives: cricket.

An alien game to most Americans (their loss), cricket is one of the most engaging and popular sports in several parts of the world. Its overall fan following eclipses those of several other popular sports put together.

Such is its popularity in certain parts of the world that global giants Netflix and Prime Video are struggling to face off against India’s Hotstar, an on-demand streaming service that has won over 300 million users thanks largely to its large catalog of cricket streaming rights.

Hotstar, which became part of Disney after the $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox, is now a key player in the American conglomerate’s world expansion plans. FanCraze is now attempting to cash in on the game’s popularity with NFTs.

These NFTs capture some of the game’s most iconic moments, including MS Dhoni getting India to victory in the 2011 World Cup with a six at the Wankhede stadium, South Africa’s infamous fumble against Australia, Yuvraj Singh’s unforgettable six sixes and Sachin Tendulkar hitting the ball over the park in a stand-off against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup.

Key to delivering these iconic moments is an exclusive, multi-year partnership that FanCraze has inked with ICC, the global governing body for the game of cricket. The startup has also individually partnered with several cricketers, including Rohit Sharma, Jonty Rhodes, Muthiah Muralidaran, Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah to offer additional exclusive moments, FanCraze founder and chief executive Anshum Bhambri told TechCrunch in an interview.

“I have been a big cricket fan all my life, as most Indians are. As an NRI, watching the same YouTube videos again and again has given me great comfort and solace in the middle of sleepless nights. Those moments are invaluable not only to me, but to billions of people across the world,” he said.

“ICC has given us the archive of video footage and still images that goes back 50 years to today. That archive and the rights to them always existed in big fat legal contracts. What NFTs have done is make those IPs liquid and tradeable by parsing them into small parts — 50-60 second videos and still images — that are now verifiably ownable and provably scarce due to blockchain technology, so that you can specify how many copies of a moment could exist and can prove who is the owner of each copy without having to rely on a third-party to verify the truth,” he said.

Image Credits: FanCraze

At the heart of FanCraze — and similar NFT startups such as NBA Top Shot and SoRare — is the idea that fans are building a more direct relationship with creators and athletes and the two are able to make and reap the vast majority of the benefit out of the value they create.

NBA Top Shot, the licensed NBA “moments” on the Flow blockchain from Dapper Labs, processes tens of millions of dollars in sales each month. Its NFTs — something proponents say is the future of collecting assets while skeptics term them as an absurd form of speculation — have minted several millionaires in fans.

The web3 idea — flipping the model on who derives most value in a transaction — is in direct contrast with the business models of scores of large firms across the globe. In each IPL cricket tournament season, it’s the platforms such as Hotstar that end up making more money than BCCI and other cricket boards or, you know, cricketers.

I asked Bhambri if he plans to expand FanCraze to more categories and businesses. The startup may expand to other sports and has long-term ideas for expansions, but he said cricket NFTs – or “Crictos” — will be its chief offering for a few years.

FanCraze is also making the experience of purchasing these digital assets very simple in a bid to make NFTs accessible to the masses. Typically, when an individual is looking to purchase an NFT or a different crypto asset, they have to identify the blockchain it’s trading on and understand how to operate the right wallet and then buy the native token they need to make the purchase and pay the transaction fee.

FanCraze is allowing users to purchase the NFT with multiple payment options, including plastic cards, wallets and UPI in India. (Users from outside of India can also buy the NFTs.) Once a user has made the purchase, a ledger record of it is automatically made on the Flow blockchain.

Here’s why CNET co-founder Halsey Minor is bullish on NFTs

The startup today launched three different packs of NFTs, starting as low as $9 apiece. Later this week, FanCraze says it will launch its marketplace where users will be able to trade the NFTs. FanCraze is also developing cricket-based games where these NFTs will be used in gameplay and to earn in-game karma points, hence increasing the utility of the NFTs, Bhambri said.

“These karma points can be used to upgrade or craft the NFTs (wherein crafting is the process of changing the NFTs’ attributes or meta-data). Upgraded NFTs are more powerful in the gameplay, which in turn improves the user’s winning chances. Users can choose to sell the crafted NFTs and karma points to other users,” he said.

More TechCrunch

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €284M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

2 days ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’