Creating and leading sports-based companies can lead to important decisions on how Web3 can play a role in connecting with fans and creating new verticals.
Executives from Boardroom, Draftkings Inc DKNG and round21 shared their insights into the world of sports and NFTs at VeeCon 2022 in a panel called “The Intersection of Sports, Business & Technologies.”
Transitioning Sports to NFTs: Rich Kleiman co-founded Boardroom with NBA star Kevin Durant back in 2019. Boardroom is an emerging company in the digital media market for sports. Kleiman credits a love for hip-hop music and sports leading him into creating the company.
“My whole life I’ve been consumed by sports,” Kleiman said.
Kleiman called Web3 the “future of sports.”
Kleiman pointed to what LeBron James has done and the NBA is a “superstar driven league.” The Boardroom co-founder also pointed to hip-hop music having some of the first “creator economies,” highlighting the roles Jay-Z and Diddy played in creating brands.
DraftKings started in daily fantasy sports before transitioning to sports betting and iGaming. The company has now launched NFT initiatives as its next growth phase.
“You’re building a platform,” DraftKings Senior Vice President of Business Development Mike Hermalyn said. “Guess what, it’s an NFT marketplace.”
Hermalyn brought cheers and laughter from the panel and crowd by pointing out a fan’s shirt that read “F*** Herm,” a reference to a quote from Gary Vee about the DraftKings business developer.
Hermalyn spoke to the nature of NFT investors and sports bettors having a lot in common.
“It wouldn’t be a Venn diagram, it’d be an ellipse,” Hermalynn said of the audience for betting and NFT investors both being high risk.
Round21 founder Jasmine Maietta played basketball overseas before transitioning to coaching and later leading brand development for companies like Reebok, Hasbro, Inc. HAS, Under Armour UA and Peloton Interactive Inc PTON.
Maietta said NFTs help bridge the gap between art, sports and sports fans.
“This whole world moving to having a sense of identity,” Maietta said.
One way is to connect NFTs and Web3 with sneakers: “The sneaker says something about who you are. Bring sports to life with canvas.”
Finding Ways to Invest, Move to Web3: Kleiman and Durant have an investment fund that has invested in companies such as Dapper Labs and Coinbase Global Inc COIN. Kleiman shared with the VeeCon audience what it is he looks for in investments.
“I don’t have a sniff test,” Kleiman said. Instead, the Boardroom co-founder looks for strong leaders and trusts his instincts with believing in a person or company before making an investment.
Kleiman said you used to have to become an agent if you wanted to get into the non-athlete side of the sports world. Now, companies are imaging NFTs and growing their presence in the space.
Hermalyn said that any company in the Web2 space needs to figure out a way to get involved in Web3. The business developer highlighted the biography of Tesla Inc TSLA CEO Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance, which shows the next line of great companies could be built by the current generation of people.
Maietta highlighted a potential strategy for companies to work together to grow in the NFT space.
"It’s all about collaboration, keeping sense of relevance will be a strategy,” Maietta said.
Photo: Yuri Hoyda via Shutterstock
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