After acquiring RTFKT, a metaverse company that aims to bring streetwear into the digital world, in December 2021, NIKE is now aiming to strengthen its metaverse game even more. The sportswear giant is looking to hire a Director of Metaverse Engineering as well as other related key positions.
According to the job postings on Linkedin, the new hires will be part of NIKE’s Technology Innovation Office (TIO), which aims to “unleash the power of technology, innovation, and talent to deliver ground-breaking technology innovation products and services”.
NIKE is a company that most people relate to sneakers, sportswear and partnerships with LeBron James and Rory McIlory. On its website, however, the company describes itself as a technology company.
“From developing products, managing big data and providing leading edge engineering and systems support, our teams at NIKE Global Technology reimagine the future at the confluence of tech and sport,” says NIKE’s website.
The company is currently focusing on investing in technology development, which automatically means investing in “the most creative people in the world, giving them the support to constantly innovate, iterate and serve consumers more directly and personally.”
Well, considering the latest development around NIKE and its zeal for technological advance, it is clear – NIKE is entering the metaverse and it is entering it with a boom.
Here are the facts:
- The company launched Nikeland on Roblox in November 2021. Nikeland is a virtual place for Nike fans “to connect, create, share experiences and compete”. The technology sticks to Nike’s motto “Just Do It” and is enhanced by real-life movement to encourage users to get more active. Additionally, a digital showroom allows visitors to outfit their avatar with Nike products. Sounds fun, isn’t it?
- In December 2021, Nike acquired RTFKT for an undisclosed amount of money. RTFKT was founded in 2020 by three friends – Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le and Steven Vasilev, and is a pioneer in breaking the boundaries between the real and the virtual world. The acquisition of RTFKT would help NIKE improve its own digital game, especially in terms of the production of virtual wearables.
The most significant part is that the three co-founders of RTFKT joined NIKE following the acquisition. Benoit Pagotto became Senior Director Brand & Partnerships. Chris Le was appointed Director of Design and Steven Vasilev joined the company as Senior Director of Product NIKE – RTFKT.
Now it is not a surprise that the company is looking to expand its team and capabilities in the metaverse. Besides looking for a Director of Metaverse Engineering to “build, manage, and lead a team to design and deliver rapid end-to-end proof of concepts, prototypes, and production software and device solutions”, NIKE is looking for other metaversers to join their team. Here are the other four currently open positions:
- Expert Innovation Program Manager – Blockchain
- Principal Innovation Engineer – Metaverse
- Senior 3D Game Designer / Metaverse Engineer
- Virtual Material Designer II
The new hires will join Nike’s office Beaverton, Oregon, and should be professionals with at least five years of experience in the respective fields.
What to expect?
Here are some trends that we believe NIKE would follow in 2022. First of all, the company is expected to make enviable profits from Nikeland on Roblox. In November 2021, Roblox reported a nearly 30% increase in its third-quarter (Q3) bookkeeping sales to USD 637.8 million. Moreover, Roblox has 47.3 million active users, as reported in Q3 2021, up from 43.2 million in the previous quarter and from 36.2 million year-on-year. Nikeland may not be among the platform’s most popular experiences but it seems that the company is definitely planning on making its virtual world a thing.
Hiring 3D game designers in addition to acquiring a company that specializes in using the latest blockchain and NFT technologies to bring sneakers and other collectibles to the metaverse is a sure sign that NIKE would focus more and more on its digital transformation.
In a press release, NIKE’s CEO John Donahoe said that the company also plans to invest in the RTFKT brand. The start-up already released digital products in partnership with crypto artist FEWOCiOUS, with world-renowned artist Takashi Murakami, The Fabricant, and others. It also launched some signature virtual sneakers like the CYBERSNEAKER, the PS5 Sneaker, and the A16Z MetaBuilder sneakers. Now we are waiting for NIKE-inspired sneakers and lots of collaborations with renowned athletes!