NFT offers a fascinating new opportunity for those who want to make money out of their hobbies and passions. For an entrepreneur who loves sports technology and analytics, Matt Kalish found gold by monetizing his passions and is now doing so in the NFT digital collectibles ecosystem. Joining Jeff Kelley, Eathan Janney, and Josh Kriger, he explains his role in achieving the $20 billion valuation of DraftKings, making it one of the world’s leading daily fantasy sports betting platforms today. This session, Matt talks about cutting edge topics like the impact of new sports betting laws and regulations on their ventures. He also imparts his insights about the future of NFT collectibles, particularly with trading cards. For this episode’s hot topics, they discuss Anicoma driving digital property rights via NFTs and gaming, Candy Digital’s plan to pivot outside of sports merchandising, and Parallel NFT Card Game’s rise to a $500 million valuation.
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Matt Kalish On DraftKings NFT Digital Collectibles Ecosystem, Plus: Tens of Millions In Capital Raises For Animoca, Fanatics/Candy Digital, Parallel NFT Card Game, And More…
Here’s what’s in store in this episode. Find out how our guest combined a few of his favorite things and co-build a $20 billion business.
Find out about three companies that are part of the latest capital raises in this booming NFT industry.
Also, learn how you can join our own NFT drop so you can grow with us as we branch out to fill the sky with you in this wonderful world of NFT. All this and more on this fresh episode. Enjoy.
This episode features Matt Kalish, the Cofounder and President of DraftKings and co-host of the Props & Drops Podcast with none other than Gary Vee. Hailing from Lowell, Mass, Matt is a lifelong gamer and avid collector who has been a competitive player of fantasy sports, poker, sports betting and strategy games throughout his life. As an entrepreneur with a passion for sports, technology and analytics, Matt has been integral in building DraftKings to its $20 billion valuations and making it one of the world’s leading daily fantasy sports, sports betting, and iGaming platforms. Matt, welcome to Edge of NFT.
Digital Collectibles: The people doing sports betting or playing blackjack are the same ones attracted to casino games.
Gentlemen, how are you?
It’s great to see you.
It’s great to be with you.
The question is, how’s Gary feeling about the Jets?
It’s hard to say but the text message exchange that we had during the game didn’t last long. He wasn’t in the mood to talk.
We want to chat with you about your journey. Let’s take it back a little bit. How did your entrepreneurial journey begin? How did that develop into DraftKings?
Entrepreneurial-wise, I started pretty late. I was about 30 when DraftKings got my attention on nights and weekends. Leading up to that, I was in Corporate America. I did four different jobs in Corporate America. I started by graduating from college. I have an Engineering degree, Computer Science. My first job was more engineering. By job three, I had moved into business analytics at Capital One, which was probably the favorite corporate job I’ve ever had.
What I liked about analytics was it reminded me a lot of poker. I was a huge poker player. There was a lot about the math, the incomplete information, game theory or whatever. All through college and after college, I used to talk to all my friends about poker hands. We had our chat rooms and stuff. We’re going through situations and talking about the numbers and stuff.
When I got involved in analytics in Corporate America, I thought it was similar. You’re going through incomplete info. You’re trying to structure it to provide consultation to marketers or whatever. I did that job for about three years and that’s where I met Jason Robins who’s the CEO of DraftKings. He was somebody that I worked closely with at that job. Eventually, we both ended up leaving to go to a company called Vistaprint.
I got a business card from Vistaprint before.
I always say that the product was not why we went there. It’s not the most exciting product. What was great was what we were able to do there from our job’s standpoint. We both moved into marketing. I was doing CRM, Customer Retention Marketing. Jason started doing a lot of their reach advertising like TV, radio, the stuff on taxi cabs that you see or whatever. I saw that even the Celtics had the Vistaprint logo if you’ve noticed that.
He started all of those channels. We had decent-sized marketing budgets and we were moving from analysts where you’re making recommendations but you’re not pulling the trigger on things to being on the front line. We’re running marketing channels. We’re accountable for the performance and the results. During that time, we had the same hobbies. We were playing poker, fantasy company softball league together, and all of that.
It was at Vistaprint that we met Paul who turned out to be our third partner. All of us wanted to do something entrepreneurial. It wasn’t until 2011 where we came up with the idea for DraftKings, which initially was like, “What if you could do drafts every day and if the leagues were over the same day?” We tried to tap into a lot of what we liked about poker, which you can play when you want. There’s no ongoing commitment. It’s a game that’s not easily mastered or not easily felt.
What we saw in that was it was a combination of everything we thought we were good at and we liked doing. It was all of our hobbies combined. That’s what the product is. The things we thought we were good at were analytics and direct marketing so we’re like, “We can build a product, attract and retain customers probably if the product is attractive.” We started working on it thinking it was in all of our sweet spots and that we could do it successfully.
That’s incredible. You hang out with Gary Vee who talks about hustle a lot. I’m sure there’s a lot of hard work that went into all this. There are a lot of people who want to start a business who are jealous of that story. It’s like, “We want to get entrepreneurial. We put together all the things we love and now we have a $20 billion company.” That’s pretty incredible. I’m happy for you that despite all the trials and tribulations that I’m sure you’ve been through, you have something that you have a passion for. That’s exciting.
There’s nothing like bringing together the things you’re passionate about and doing what you love. One of those elements is the daily fantasy sports side of it. You got sports betting that took off with the changes in laws, regulations and whatnot. One of the questions we had is how does that tie into gaming and NFTs?
It’s evolved over time where I’ve been focused. DraftKings has been fortunate in the sense that Jason, Paul and I have been involved from day one. Even now, we are heavily running the operation. I have a team of over 1,000 people at DraftKings. I do all of our marketing, product operations, promotions and everything. Similarly, Paul has a team of 1,000-plus people with product development, engineering or whatever.
Jason is our CEO. Now that we’re public, he’ll go out and do the quarterly earnings or whatever. He’s doing fundraising and whatever we need. The three of us are still heavily involved operationally. Our focus has changed over time in the sense that many years ago, there wasn’t a lot that you could do in online gaming in the US. If you think back years ago if you’re watching a sports game, what were you doing to make that interesting but not much.
Maybe you’re on an illegal offshore sportsbook or you had a bookie. My dad was a cop. He was a corrections officer who worked in a prison. He would bring home parlay card sheets or the pools from his work that he pulled out of the prison. He would do squares during the Super Bowl. I remember the March Madness brackets but that’s all that there was.
Daily Fantasy was popping up in 2011, 2012, when we launched. That was one of the top ways in the course of a couple of years that people were getting skin in the game on sports. People like me and probably all of us who don’t want to sit and watch a game want to predict things and want to play somehow. We followed where that attention was going from that audience and sports betting was a massive focus. Once that started opening up in 2017, we put tons of attention there.
The same people who are doing sports betting are the same people you see who are playing blackjack. Other casino games are highly attractive and relevant to that same audience. Now we’re seeing collectibles, especially since COVID. Starting with physical sports cards. It started to ramp up in Q3 and Q4 of 2020. Prices started going crazy. People were zeroed in.
The first time that I noticed digital collectibles showing up was Top Shots in February 2020, roughly. I know what was going on before that but that was when it hit my radar. Enough people were paying attention at that point. It’s probably in the tens to maybe a hundred thousand people jumping in trying to get packs and things like that.
That’s the first time that my attention started going there. All of it was this general idea of DraftKings serving a certain type of consumer. We call it skin in the game sports fan. It’s the person that doesn’t sit on their couch and watch the Patriots. They want to predict and play. They’re playing fantasy. They’re making sports bets. They’re doing whatever they can to get skin in the game. That’s the customer that we’ve been trying to serve. Wherever that attention is going is where my attention goes.
It’s such a distinctive group of folks too. You highlighted it and you guys are plugged into this group of people. You can see that it’s that same group over and over again doing these things and making it interesting. It’s cool.
I’ve always found it easy too because that is my personality type and what I do for fun anyway. Being myself has generally brought me to the right places at the right times. Maybe a little slow in some cases. In some cases, maybe a little earlier but I do like all of these projects. I like all the products that I’m working on and that I’m marketing. I use them personally so it’s always been a little bit natural to follow the attention of our customers.
I can relate to that. That’s how this show started. Jeff and I have known each other for years and we met Eathan. This show is a manifestation of everything we enjoy talking about. It’s something we can do for years to come. I had a chance to listen to Props & Drops and it feels like a comfortable conversation. You and Gary are hanging out on the couch, having a beer, and talking about the games for the week. It’s a lot of fun. You guys are covering NFTs, collectibles, trading cards and so much more. What’s your vision for the podcast and how far do you see this world of NFT collectibles reaching?
Crypto and NFTs have such a crazy runway ahead. The thing with crypto, NFT, and the communities around it in general that I found so amazing is that the vibes of it are distinct and extremely positive. It’s nice to go on and make stuff. We’re doing this podcast or I’ll go on with Gary. You go on and you can shoot the crap. You can talk about what’s going on with the content and with the drops. If something I invest in doesn’t go well, it’s a funny joke. If it goes well, I’ll be the biggest genius in the world for one day. We can trade all these stories and talk.
There’s an underlying sense that the vibes are immaculate in this whole crypto and NFT space. Everybody, in general, is positive. There are a lot of different products or projects where I’ve gotten involved in the community. It can be all different sorts of dynamics. This one, in particular, I feel like a big part of why people want to be a part of these communities are like, “I want to get a Bored Ape or whatever.” It’s because you connect with the vibe of the community that’s in that ownership group. It’s limited and it’s something special but the quality and the dynamic of the community and the discussion are positive.
Over time, that will be a source of positive energy, a source of entertainment for many people. It’s almost like watching Twitch streams of people playing games or anything else that you do where there are these positive vibes. When I go on Twitter and I turn on the Twitter spaces, and I listen to Farokh or Dees or whatever. These guys go on for hours every single day, and it’s positive all the time. How could you not be attracted to that? That combination of what people already love about collectibles or what they already love about that speculation combined with the content, the positivity, and the community is special.
I couldn’t agree with you more. It sounds like we both feel that this industry has long legs and it’s going to be exciting. No one quite knows where it’s going but it’s going to go somewhere fun, special, and continue to breathe positive energy into the world.
In some of the projects too, you get the sense that they’re scratching the surface of what’s possible. There’s so much innovation and disruption to come on how this technology will be used and built. The first project I ever bought was a CryptoPunk, which is no utility. It’s an avatar. You buy it and you have it, then everyone makes jokes about how they can right-click your avatar and they own it. That’s all there is to it. Over time, you start seeing more projects come out and people are doing different things. People put royalties on them so that they’re generating revenue. They can reinvest into the project and build legit companies that have ongoing revenue against it.
They’re building these roadmaps that I’m going to make content. For example, we were talking about DeadHeads, Vee Friends, a bunch of SpacePoggers, a bunch of these projects that have ideas of making content, movies or whatever. Cool Cats or Kongz that do the yield. Sup Ducks are doing yield where you get tokens and you can spend them in a store that they make or whatever. You start to see more use out of the tech. Even still, what we’ve already seen is maybe 10% of what we will see over the next year as more and more engineers put their heads down and get to work.
Since you went there, I’ve got to mention the Gambling Apes. You got this little ape that co-owns a casino in Decentraland. How fun is that? I was attracted to that project as well. It keeps going and going. Every week there’s something new.
It’s Wild West in a way. It’s interesting. There’s a lot of Wild West project building out there. At the same time, the community governs itself well. It’s almost better than anything I’ve ever seen. People hold each other accountable for good conduct and maintain positive vibes. If anything gets out of check, then there are people that get it back in check. It’s a good self-governing, decentralized community.
That’s a lot of what we see in here talking to different projects and people in the space. I want to get a little bit to the marketplace that you built in partnership with Autograph. This is huge. What are some key elements of your platform roadmap? When is Josh going to get to toss a football with Tom Brady?
What DraftKings ultimately has as the rationale for doing anything here is an audience that is in the market buying lots of collectibles or whatnot. The foundation for us is we have a large platform that already has a lot of engagement whether it’s fantasy play or sports betting. We have millions of customers that are coming and playing those games.
I always thought one of the toughest things with any collectible was building and maintaining the attention of an audience. A lot of the projects I’ve gotten involved with are doing it through Discord. They’ll set up a Discord and push it through Twitter. Community managers do their thing on Discord, and it’s the center of the community.
To keep ongoing attention for weeks and months after the drop is difficult. Even some pretty good teams and good projects I’ve seen struggle with this. There are relatively few that I’ve successfully done for months and we don’t even know for years. We’ll see how many people on day 100 or 360 are still checking in on their Discord. We don’t even know because it’s too soon. It’s too new.
The idea of how fast that attention after the drop falls off is instantaneous. In the case of DraftKings, we already have the daily or weekly engagement. People come for football, basketball or whatever. It’s easy for them to also see what’s going on with their collections and see what drops are coming. The unfair advantage of DraftKings is having millions of people showing up who are already engaged.
From there, we have the exact type of customer showing up in the market. People who are heavy crypto adopters like sports card collectors and non-sport card collectors. Behind me aren’t even sports cards. This is Flesh and Blood, a fantasy, non-sports card game. I have boxes of these cards. Steve Aoki is into MetaZoo, which is a similar game. These are what the people in our audience are doing. They’re collecting sports cards. They’re trading them with their friends. They’re trading stocks. They’re doing all this stuff.
Digital Collectibles: A skin-in-the-game sports fan doesn’t just sit on their couch and what the game. They want to predict the game and make sports bets.
We have the perfect profile of customers as well to create a vibrant marketplace that has a lot going on. That’s what we do best. On the content side, Autograph, our partner that provides the NFT content, went out and did all of these deals with Tom Brady, Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles, Tony Hawk. They had all these IP rights deals for name, image likeness, marketing deals or whatever. That was the perfect first partner for us to go live with because they have such a great roster and good access to many of our favorite athletes.
They also did some deals outside of sports. For example, we’re doing a drop with Lionsgate about the movie Saw. They built an entire concept around that and we’re dropping it. They’re able to branch into movies, pop culture, sports or whatever. It’s a great partner. It’s not the only partner that we’ll work with but that was our inaugural partner to go out and get the ball rolling at the stage we’re at.
What our audience should expect is that this is going to be an area that we’re focused on. We’re probably in warm-ups. I feel like the game has hardly even started in terms of NFTs, marketplaces and stuff. As we get more and more content deals inked, as we build content in-house, as Autograph builds on their roadmap, it’ll get better and better over time.
Congrats on moving quickly. We run into people all the time. You had it where it was like, “This is perfect for us.” We meet all kinds of people who know that NFTs are perfect for what they’re doing. It’s also a struggle to find the right partners, make the right plan, and get things going quickly. Congrats on building that and getting it going as fast as you have.
It’s a balance of how fast to go and what’s an alpha product, beta product or whatever. If you get in-market, you see what the consumer sentiment is. You get feedback and you learn fast when you’re operating and it’s hard before you’re operating. We’ve always had a bias to get a viable product out there, then iterate and talk to the users. That’s how we looked at this one and it was the right decision.
It’s clear that there’s going to be a tremendous amount of innovation. Lots of different plays on the marketplace. You see Coinbase, Reddit or whoever. Every day, there’s an announcement from someone who feels like, “A play for us is going to be in the NFT marketplace.” It’s going to be vibrant. There’s going to be a lot going on in this space. The sooner that we could get in-market, start building relationships with our players, and start getting that association, we wanted to go as fast as we could. We have twenty jobs up on our site for the marketplace and the team is five people or something. We’re ramping fast.
You might get somebody from our audience.
The first thing I’m going to put up on social media is the link to our careers page. We’re heavily focused on recruiting. We’ve done 5% of the work. The team that’s in place that takes the baton and keeps building and iterating is going to do 95%. We haven’t even touched most of our roadmap. It’s a matter of getting an amazing team in place and setting the general rudder in the right direction. Let customers drive the roadmap and we’ll be there to build tech, which is what we do best ultimately.
Tom Bilyeu said he’s going to have one person on his team dedicated to each category of NFT. It’s a matter of engaging with the community and figuring out what they want next. Certainly, fantasy sports and NFTs seem to go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly.
You can see some direct-to-plays like Sorare, for example, where it’s almost NFT-driven fantasy, but there’s tremendous overlap, for sure.
We’re talking about some specific drops. You mentioned the Saw drop, which is pretty cool. As fans, are there any other drops that are forthcoming that you can share that you’re pumped about?
In terms of the drops, it gets revealed as it’s finalized on Marketplace.DraftKings.com. The main deals with Autograph that we’ve announced have multiple athlete deals. We’re talking about Saw. Lionsgate has a giant roster of movies so they’re able to run with different IPs around the movies that are in the Lionsgate roster.
What I like about Saw is it wasn’t just a flat collectible with nothing interesting going on. They were thoughtful about it. They’re making videos with the Jigsaw dude talking to the customer and it’s about collecting the traps, the schematics and keys. You put them together and you get a special incentive if you have the right combination of NFTs. They’re going a little deeper into the experience and putting a wrapper of interesting marketing creative around it that makes it more fun. It’s much more fun if there’s something going on like that.
We haven’t seen a ton of that yet. It’s the tip of the iceberg. Whether it’s in the movie theater or in your house and having the opportunity to do something different that’s never been done before or whatever that may be. It is pretty cool stuff.
Taking a step back besides DraftKings and what Gary’s doing, what else are you pumped about in NFT land?
There are new projects every day. It’s hard to even understand what’s coming next. At this point, I’m almost hearing about things after the mint almost every time now, and jumping into projects that have a day or two of proof. I feel I’m the latest person in the world to the party. I don’t know if you feel that way too.
We’ll be doing 2 or 3 episodes in a week, and then come the weekend, I learned about three drops that I missed out on.
I used to be minting projects every time and if I didn’t hit the mint, I would almost forget about it. If it ran, I would feel sorry for myself and now that’s all changed. Now, there are so many drops. Unless something has traction, I don’t even want to touch it. I grabbed Doodles.
I was introduced to that guy before it dropped. I lost touch with him and found out it was the biggest drop of the month.
I missed the drop totally. Another one was the KaijuKingz. I missed the drop altogether. Once people are showing interest in it and it seems like it’s not going to go mint and .034, then I’m jumping in. I don’t mind paying a little more these days to feel like I’m in a project that’s not going to be dead on arrival. I also don’t want to clutter my wallet to an absurd degree.
The whole issue is portfolio management. Once you get 100 NFTs, you need to hire someone to keep tabs on what’s going on there.
A lot of them are like the Polygon airdrops or whatever it is that are not projects that you minted. I get a lot of those but I probably have 1,200 things in my wallet and I was looking at some people. I looked at Pranksy who had 42,000 things in his wallet. How do you get 42,000 things in your wallet? It’s by minting every project and you mint 300 of everything. I’ve been trying to be more selective and wait for a little bit of momentum. I don’t hate the idea of people speculating and minting things right away, but if you want to blast air balls, I think it’s a good strategy.
In some cases, people buy everything. We were talking to Troubadour and he was like, “I’ve not sold anything. I just buy it. I don’t sell a single thing, I just I mint.” That’s his path.
That’s the Gary Vee strategy of never selling anything. That’s not how I roll. That’s a lot of fun for me. I buy, sell and trade. My worst trade was I traded CryptoPunk for the best DeadHead, which I love DeadHead. From an emotional standpoint, I am happy with it because I wouldn’t have had access to it otherwise, but the value equation is bad on that because CryptoPunks went ham.
That’s like the guy that traded that 600th Touchdown Ball from Tom Brady for a signed t-shirt. Did you hear about that?
I heard. Ken Goldin said it was worth $500,000 and he gave it away for a t-shirt.
I assume you’ll be in New York for the NYC NFT. Hopefully, we can all get some real-time alpha at that conference and be a little bit ahead of things for at least a couple of days.
I’m excited. Now, the NBA season is popping off. I’m excited about it. Let’s see how some different things in the NBA lane and go. I was wondering, will Top Shot start running now that NBA is going and renew the interest or whatever? In general, there is so much dropping all the time. I’m looking for something special almost at this point.
I’ve been sitting back. I want to see some momentum on projects before I jump in and give it because you can’t give your attention to everything. You can’t pay attention to 200 projects. If I can pay attention to 13 or 15 projects, I want to know that I’m jumping into something good. I don’t want to have a bag of 60 NFTs and hate my life for owning them. I’m looking for a little bit of momentum or something innovative. One project that I feel hasn’t gotten love but I thought was crazy innovative was the Tom Sachs: Rocket Factory. Have you heard this?
This thing I’m all in. He built this NFT project where you have three parts to a rocket. It’s like a base, a body and a cone. You have to get three then you mint them together and it’s one rocket. You schedule it. He launches the rocket, makes a video, and sends you the physical rocket. He’s a legit artist. People are spending big dollars on Tom Sachs’ art. He sends you the rocket, sends you the video of him launching it and you keep the NFT. It’s cool. These are physical-digital hybrid projects and stuff. I’m looking for weird stuff like that. They’re stuff that hasn’t been reached that much. When stuff like that pops up, then I want to jump in, if it’s something weird.
We love to see the stuff that’s on the edges. It’s clear that you embody the idea that if you align who you are with what you do, then that’s happiness. It comes out of you. It’s so great talking about this stuff. We wanted to switch gears a little bit and get your personal perspective on some things. We’ve got the segment we call Edge Quick Hitters. It’s a fun quick way to get to know you a little better. It’s ten questions and we’re looking for a short single word or few word responses, but we always like to give you the bandwidth to expand if you get the urge. Does it sound like something you’re ready for?
Yeah. I’m not known for being super concise but I will do my best.
Let’s dive in. Question number one, what is the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?
It was a Dallas Cowboys starter windbreaker probably in third grade
I rock the old Timberwolves one or something when it first comes out. That was so cool.
Digital Collectibles: If you get into the market, you see what the consumer sentiment is. This feedback allows you to learn fast when you’re operating.
I had Phoenix Suns too but I got that after. I was a Barkley fan so the Suns were my team. The Cowboys were winning when I got it and I was just following the winning team.
I love to play Barkley in the NBA Jam video game. He had the best moves.
I messed this up. Sorry, we’re not being concise. All my friends were collecting cards. I had a friend collecting Jordans, a friend collecting Ken Griffey Jr. or whatever. Everyone was collecting these people and I went all-in on Barkley, which didn’t pan out to be that good. I’m trading my Jordans to get Barkley and stuff and I got wrecked in that.
What are you going to do?
Yeah, what can you do?
Question two, what’s the first thing you remember ever selling in your life?
Honestly, it was probably a sports card. It wouldn’t have been for much. I was collecting in the junk era of ‘92 and ‘93. The first thing I remember selling was a Shaq Fleer Ultra ’92, ‘93 bass rookie. It’s probably $5 or $10. It wasn’t a parallel or anything. It was a bass one. I sold it to buy more packs or something.
Question three, what is the most recent thing you purchased?
I bought a Bored Ape. That was probably my most recent purchase, physical or digital. I got one of those noise Bored Apes with the green ring around the head and he has a cigarette. It looks clean and the market was nice. The market is in a good spot on Bored Apes. I grabbed one for 15 Eth.
Question four, what’s the most recent thing you sold?
I sold a Rap Striker Ronaldo Iconic, which is the parallel. If you know this project, it was the soccer cards and it was one of the first sports collectibles. I bought fifteen of them a few months ago. I sold a Ronaldo one for 30.
It’s more exciting than me, which was two-year-old baby clothes on Facebook Marketplace.
The thing with NFTs is it’s so easy to buy and sell all the time that it’s always the last thing I did, was some kind of NFT transaction.
It’s almost always true for all of us. It’s crazy. Question five. What is your most prized possession?
A Kobe-signed basketball that’s chilling in my office right now.
I’m a big Laker guy. That’s huge.
I’ve got the Mamba in my office. That’s hard to put a value on. It’s nice.
Question six, if you could buy anything in the world, digital, physical, service and experience that’s currently for sale, what would that be?
I don’t know how to do this but I need a way to keep track of my contacts that’s way better. If there’s a service like that, somebody hit me up. What I’ve noticed is now with all the Discords and Telegrams and stuff, I’m meeting people and it’s almost impossible to keep track of all the relationships that I want. I want a system for that. Help me if you have any ideas, whatever you’re using.
He’s screaming for a SaaS product.
There’s a new and free business idea for anyone who wants it.
That’s a good one. Eathan has another podcast Run With It, where he broadcasts business ideas for the world to create. We’ve just got a topic, Eathan.
Now you have 7 or 12 platforms where you’re communicating with people. It’s all of your Discord, text messages, Twitter and everything. It’s crazy.
Something’s got to happen there to bring it together. Question seven, if you could pass on one of your personality traits to the next generation, what would that be?
The total lack of not at all risk-averse, in the sense of I don’t feel I have that much to lose going after something that I want to spend my time on. It gives you a nice level of freedom.
That’s definitely admirable. Question eight, if you could eliminate one of your personality traits from the next generation, what would that be?
Severe lack of attention. I lose attention fast within minutes. It’s a burden.
Especially in the world of NFTs, it’s so hard.
Sometimes I forget but not like this because we’re talking about a topic that’s a great topic, but I’ll forget what I’m talking about. I’ll be in a conversation and I’ll totally lose track of what’s going on. It’s an awful burden.
My girlfriend’s going, “Yes, that’s the problem. It happens to me all the time.”
I’ve heard they make medicine for that or something, but I’m not on it so I do have that problem.
The way our world is structured now does not help at all.
You’re sitting there and your phone is notifying you thirteen things a minute. We’re talking about NFTs alone with all the action. I feel like I’m going to miss alpha if I’m not paying attention for one minute and if I’m on Twitter. This might make you dizzy but I have my other computer. I’ll be at my work computer but I always have my other computer because I don’t want to miss any alpha. I’ve got to use a second screen. If that’s not enough, then I have my phone and that’s where all the problems happen.
If Elon is reading this, he’s thinking Neuralink is going to solve all of our problems.
Question nine is a little bit easier. What did you do before joining us on the show?
Monday is meeting city at DraftKings. I was looking at how the weekend went. Some of the sportsbook stuff, results and performance.
I’m doing the job that I get paid for.
Question ten, the last one. What are you going to do next after the show?
It happens to be the end-of-day so I’m going to go start making dinner. I have two daughters. I’m going to go see how their day was, make some dinner, sit down and relax for a little bit.
It sounds like a great time.
What are we talking about, spaghetti, mac and cheese, Chicken Vesuvio? What have you got?
Whenever I say I’m going to cook them, my oldest one wants to order out. I don’t know why. I feel like I’m a very good cook but she wanted to order out. I’m going to try to talk her into what I want.
That sounds like a plan. That’s Edge Quick Hitters. Thanks so much for indulging us there. That was a lot of fun. We have some hot topics to cover as well. What do you say, Eathan?
Let’s get in there. Let’s get heated up. Let’s talk about Animoca Brands’ capital raise. “The company driving digital property rights via NFTs in gaming to build the open Metaverse announced it has closed a capital raise for $65 million conducted at a pre-money valuation of $2.2 billion.” Congrats to them. We had Yat Siu and Robby Yung on the program. They are blazing trails in the NFT and gaming space. It’s pretty incredible.
There is so much investment activity going on in this space right now, for sure. Just to have the opportunity to be a part of a billion-dollar company now, there are people who are putting out 8 or 9 figures or several hundred million-dollar-plus raises. Because there are going to be billion-dollar companies made during this crypto blockchain tech NFT stuff, there are so many angles on it. It’s hard to pick the exact winners so there’s going to be a lot of bets. A handful of founding teams are going to run with it, go ham and make lots of extra money.
Spoiler alert. I’m looking at our other hot topics and they’re all about capital raises. We mentioned this previously in one of our previous episodes. There were some capital raises going on and we were talking about it. Jeff made the comment, “That’s relatively significant but they weren’t combined raising much more than the people sold for.” We’re seeing more and more now. We’re getting some serious money.
One of the things is we love the message that Animoca Brands brings so consistently. It goes back to what you were talking about earlier, Matt, which is the community, collaboration and cooperation among the folks in the community to drive it forward. They preach this day in and day out. It’s so authentic when you talk to these guys. You feel it coming from them in all the projects they invest in, support, and the programs they’ve put together.
It’s amazing so I love to see dollars go into a company like that with that kind of ethos. They come from straight-up gaming. They were a gaming company first before they got into the world of crypto. They bring with them super valuable information from their experiences over the last decade-plus in that space, which many of the NFT based gaming companies or crypto-based gaming companies don’t have. It’s so cool to see them do that. What else have we got?
The next, as promised, is another raise that we’re talking about. Fanatics NFT company now worth $1.5 Billion. “Fanatics said it raised $100 million for its NFT company, Candy Digital, as it looks to pivot outside of sports merchandising. Investors include Softbank’s Vision Fund 2, Insight Partners, and Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.” Candy Digital, I feel like I heard about them. I first heard about them somewhere around Gary Vee’s NFT drop. I’m not sure whether they helped with that. Does anybody remember what role they played in that if anything?
Gary is either on their board or a key advisor to Candy Digital.
Gary’s right around the rim on that one, Mike Novogratz, Michael Rubin. He’s unbelievably good with league team partnerships. His core business with fanatics was he has a tremendous amount of rights from sports leagues to create apparel, jerseys, whatever and built a massive business off of that. He applied that skill. His incredible deal-making is at a sick human level. He’s unbelievably good at deal-making. He went in and expanded those deals into physical sports cards, Candy with Major League Baseball. The deal around the NFT stuff. It’s an incredible story. Michael Rubin a special piece of what will help propel NFTs and bring it into the mainstream with a lot of IP. It’s interesting.
One thing that I’m excited about and talked about before is going back to the legends of the game which is what NBA Top Shots did. Candy Digital has this opportunity to do that with Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson. We had some guys on the show, Culture Shock Galleries. Shout out to them. They’re definitely worth taking a look at. They’re going back into the history of hip hop in giving some of the OGs of the industry some spotlight. One of the exciting things is that old is new, new is old. Everything gets to come together again in a cool modern package.
It’s awesome when you see it all coming together. I don’t know how to put it but particularly, I was thinking of Quincy Jones and his role at OneOf. It’s fun to see the OGs being a part of it, and being the trailblazers of the future. Not only is there something nostalgic and fun about it but it’s inspiring as we move forward into the future to continue to blaze trails from cradle all the way through the end.
Fanatics is sports merchandising. That’s where the revenue is coming from right now. They’re saying that this is part of their pivot away from sports merchandising. If that isn’t telling for the future of NFTs and different digital formats for using these licenses, I don’t know what is. That’s amazing.
It’s interesting this article here that we’re referring to. It does reference Dapper a few times as a comparison. It’s like Dapper at a $7 billion valuation and comparing what could be achieved through the partnerships with MLB and stuff like that. Outside of sports, it’ll be interesting to see that as well. Onto the next hot topic. Let’s hit it up.
The next one on the roster is, NFT sci-fi card game Parallel raises at a $500 million valuation from Paradigm. “Parallels is a sci-fi card game based on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s had a more meteoric rise than most crypto projects and investors have noticed. Platform tells TechCrunch they raised $50 million and $500 million valuations from crypto VC firm Paradigm. Previous investors include YouTube cofounder, Chad Hurley, Focus Labs, OSS Capital, and Yunt Capital, among others.” We had Alien Worlds on the show so there’s a fun theme of sci-fi slipping through all of the NFT projects that are going on. We’ve seen Alien Invaders.
We’ll be interviewing Ingrid and Niel at NFT.NYC. Shout out to them. They just dropped their spaceship but this is big. I haven’t heard of this project before you guys found this article but I’m trying to ingest the magnitude of a $500 million valuation on a game. I didn’t hear about this game until now. Matt, have you heard about this game before?
I haven’t bought the game but I’ve heard a little bit about it. From what I understand, it’s like the Magic: The Gathering deal.
This article says, “The project is based around a fantasy storyline about humanity’s escape from space falling in an apocalyptic attempt to resolve a global energy crisis.” That sounds so unrealistic. “Unlike some of the other highly valuable pixelated entity projects like CryptoPunks, Parallel’s art style is focused on realism through a science fiction lens.” It’s a little bit more info on them.
They apparently had $105 million transaction volume at one point in their sales dropped to $11 million in September 2021. Sometimes we’ve talked about this. You never know how the after-sales are going to go. Clearly, Paradigm is still bullish on the long-term potential. We all expect some ebb and flow to the evolution of these games. If they can use this one to create some long-term value, that should be great and it’ll be exciting to see what stuff they do. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some real-life components to it and some other fun Metaverse augmented reality. $50 million buys you a lot of things to try.
There are a lot of opportunities to iterate but again, community, narrative and storyline. These are the elements of some of the most successful projects out there so I expect big things from them.
That was a packed show.
That was, indeed. There are so many amazing things in here.
For our next hot topic, everybody is tired. Let’s rollout.
Before we wrap up, where should folks go to follow what you guys are up to? What’s the best source for information on DraftKings and yourself?
For info on me and what I’m up to, my Twitter is @MattKalish. That would be the best. It’s at least the social account I maintain the best and I like to spend the most time on. As to DraftKings, I would encourage everyone to check out Marketplace.DraftKings.com to get an idea of what’s going on there. It’s the start of something special. It was launched in August 2021. Drop schedules are getting packed up.
Digital Collectibles: If you have the right combination of NFTs, they’re going a little deeper into the experience. Putting a wrapper of interesting marketing creative around it makes it more fun.
We’re seeing lots of activity. It would be great if everyone could check that out to see what you think. Send me any feedback you have. It’s the early days. Every day, I’m collecting different thoughts and feedback. Myself, Paul and Jason are accountable for the roadmap at DraftKings. What we’re building, ultimately, we and our teams are shepherding that group. Even though it’s a big public company now, we’re still very hands-on. We’re the ones driving the roadmap forward. I take that responsibility seriously. I go out and try to get feedback on the platform anytime we launch something new.
Also, who knows? Maybe starting that conversation leads to a job opportunity down the road.
Careers.DraftKings.com and you don’t even have to be an engineer. A lot of the jobs that we’re hiring are in marketing, product operations, content, design, and partner management. It’s a lot of things that aren’t just writing code. If you write code, great. We have those jobs too but it’s not only that. If you have any interest in working in this space, at least give DraftKings a look. That’d be a good stop.
Be careful of what you wish for. There might be a lot of people banging on that door. It’s awesome stuff. I heard we’re going to do a fun giveaway. We’ll put the details together and pump that out on our socials also so keep an eye out for that. We’ll get everything over to you as well. We’ve reached the outer limit at the Edge of NFTs for this episode. Thanks for exploring with us. We’ve got space for more adventures on the starship. Invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey all so much better. How? Go to iTunes, rate us and say something awesome, and then go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole.
Remember, we always invite you to co-create and build with us at Edge of NFT. We are unlocking a whole new way to connect and collaborate with us through our own NFT drop, Living Tree NFTs. Through this project will be planting tens of thousands of real trees. This collection is not only a beautiful generative art collection but will also be the foundation of everything we do with Edge of NFT and our community for years to come.
On top of that Living Tree holders like you will co-create and participate in our show and access exclusive events and killer contests. You’ll be the frontline for other NFT drops, as well as a long bright future of branching opportunities to come. Get on the whitelist by dropping us a line at Contact@EdgeOfNFT.com or tweet at us @EdgeOfNFT and we’ll share with you the steps required to get in the mix. Lastly, be sure to tune in to the next episode for more great NFT content. Thanks again for sharing this time with us.
- Props & Drops Podcast
- Vee Friends
- Cool Cats
- Sup Ducks
- Gambling Apes
- Tom Sachs: Rocket Factory
- Run With It – Apple Podcasts
- Animoca Brands capital raise
- Yat Siu – Past Episode
- Robby Yung – Past Episode
- Fanatics NFT company now worth $1.5 Billion – Article
- Culture Shock Galleries
- NFT sci-fi card game Parallel raises at a $500 million valuation from Paradigm – Article
- Alien Worlds
- @MattKalish – Twitter
- iTunes – Edge of NFT
- @EdgeOfNFT – Twitter
About Matt Kalish
Entrepreneur with a passion for sports, technology and analytics, currently the President of DraftKings, N.A. Co-founded DraftKings in 2012, which has become one of the world’s leading daily fantasy sports, sportsbetting and iGaming platforms and a preeminent sports entertainment company changing the way fans engage with sports.