VeeCon 2022: Why Boardroom, DraftKings and round21 are all-in for web3

Creating and leading sports-based businesses can lead to important decisions about 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 from Sports to NFTs: Rich Kleiman co-founded Boardroom with NBA star Kevin Durant in 2019. Boardroom is an emerging company in the sports digital media market. Kleiman credits his love for hip-hop music and sports that led him to found the company.

“All my 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 one of the first “creator economies,” highlighting the roles Jay-Z and Diddy played in brand creation.

DraftKings started out in daily fantasy sports before moving on to sports betting and iGaming. The company has now launched NFT initiatives as its next growth phase.

“You’re building a platform,” said Mike Hermalyn, DraftKings senior vice president of business development. “Guess it’s an NFT marketplace.”

Hermalyn sparked cheers and laughter from the panel and crowd by pointing to a fan’s shirt that reads “F*** Herm,” a reference to a quote from Gary Vee about the DraftKings company developer.

Hermalyn spoke about the nature of NFT investors and sports bettors who have a lot in common.

“It wouldn’t be a Venn diagram, it would be an ellipse,” Hermalynn said of the betting audience and NFT investors both of which are high risk.

Founder of Round21, Jasmine Maietta played basketball abroad before transitioning into coaching and later leading brand development for companies such as Reebok, Hasbro, Inc. HAS, Under Armor UA and Peloton Interactive Inc PTON.

Maietta said NFTs help bridge the gap between arts, sports and sports fans.

“This whole world is starting to have 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 sport to life with canvas.”

Related link: VeeCon 2022: Snoop Dogg on creating a brand around his Bored Ape and Death Row record label growth

Finding ways to invest, moving 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 he is looking for in investments.

“I don’t have a sniff test,” Kleiman said. Instead, the Boardroom co-founder looks for strong leaders and trusts his instinct to believe in a person or company before making an investment.

Kleiman said you used to have to be a cop if you wanted to get into the non-athletic side of the sports world. Now companies are bringing NFTs into the picture and increasing their presence in the space.

Hermalyn said that every Web2 business needs to find a way to get involved in Web3. The business developer highlighted Tesla Inc TSLA CEO Elon Musk’s biography by Ashlee Vance, which shows that the next batch of great companies can be built by today’s generation of people.

Maietta highlighted a potential strategy for companies to collaborate to grow in the NFT space.

“It’s all about collaboration, keeping relevance will be a strategy,” Maietta said.

Photo: Yuri Hoyda via Shutterstock

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