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Tom Brady just retired to spend more time at his NFT company. Here’s what it does

February 1, 2022, 8:51 PM UTC

Seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady said he was retiring Tuesday, in part to work on his NFT collections startup, Autograph.

“The future is exciting,” Brady wrote in a farewell Instagram post. “I’m fortunate to have cofounded incredible companies like @autograph.io.” 

So what is Autograph? 

The Los Angeles–based company, which launched in April 2021, is a hub for digital sports collectibles and has already produced NFTs in collaboration with athletes like Tony Hawk, Tiger Woods, and Simone Biles. 

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are digital items that are stored on blockchain technology, meaning that ownership can be verified through a public ledger online. They can be anything digital, from a photo to a pdf to an audio clip. They exploded in popularity in 2021, and some have sold for as much as $69 million

Along with sports icons, Autograph has also partnered with sports betting company DraftKings to sell its NFTs on the company’s marketplace. And in July, it struck a deal with entertainment company Lionsgate to produce film-related NFTs.

Late last month, Autograph raised $170 million in a funding round co-led by venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins. The funding came after an initial $35 million funding round in 2021, according to Reuters.

So far, the company has released NFTs in batches that are tied to a specific athlete, like Brady himself, for instance. Autograph’s NFTs can range in price from less than $100 to thousands of dollars depending on the collection and how rare the NFT is, according to the DraftKings marketplace. The NFTs come in the form of images or animations related to the athlete they represent.

In December, Brady personally sold an NFT collection through Autograph called Live Forever: The Tom Brady Origins Collection, showcasing items from his early career. The collection was made up of 16,600 NFTs that included digital versions of his college résumé and the cleats and jersey from his days in the NFL combine, where National Football League coaches scout college players. The NFTs were available through Autograph on five different levels of rarity with incrementally increasing prices. The “carbon” tier is the least rare, and the “ruby” tier is the most rare. The collection grossed about $1.3 million in total sales, according to CoinDesk

Brady founded Autograph along with serial entrepreneur Richard Rosenblatt and his son, 23-year-old Dillon Rosenblatt, who serves as CEO, according to the company’s website. Autograph also has famous athletes like Usain Bolt and Derek Jeter on its board of advisers. Its board includes founder of crypto exchange FTX Sam Bankman-Fried and Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue.

As NFTs continue to gain popularity, celebrities like Brady have gotten involved in the space with their own NFTs or NFT-related products. In January, tennis star Serena Williams joined the board of Sorare, a fantasy sport game that incorporates NFTs.

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