- Sports stock market startup Mojo will leverage SportsDataIO’s products to assist in player valuation.
- Mojo recently went live in New Jersey and hopefully will add additional states soon.
- SportsDataIO is a privately held betting data provider based in Philadelphia.
In the ‘bizarro world’ that is the US sports betting ecosystem there’s only one guaranteed moneymaker. No, not the states–even the ones that have shortsightedly imposed burdensome regulations and absurd tax rates. No, not the sportsbooks–they’re hamstrung by the aforementioned regulations and tax rates. On top of that, many gaming companies have forgotten that they’re in the business of taking bets–not ‘creating fan engagement’.
The biggest winner so far? The companies that provide sports betting data to bookmakers, media, etc. In a broader sense, the ancillary businesses are in a great position though none to the extent of the data providers. In many ways, this is similar to the early days of the Internet when companies that ‘built the plumbing’ like Qualcomm and Akamai were the first to become profitable. The big difference is that the Internet wasn’t choked to death by politicians and bureaucrats more concerned with extracting a quick buck instead of creating an environment where the industry can grow. Sure, the latter would benefit everyone in their state but that’s not why they’re in politics.
SportsDataIO is one of the data providers and they’ve just signed a deal with an interesting startup that–unfortunately–will soon run headlong into the ‘glass ceiling’ that is the boneheaded regulatory framework so pervasive in US sports betting. The company is Mojo, which is a ‘sports stock market’. Players ‘invest’ in athletes the way that you’d buy a stock. Prices change in real time in response to the ‘micro and macro’ of the respective players’ careers. You probably get the idea, but here’s how the SportsDataIO press release explained it:
Mojo, which recently launched with the NFL season in New Jersey allows users to make real money bets on an athlete’s career prospects, with real-time price changes and instant liquidity, meaning users can enter or exit their position at any time, just like a stock.
Athlete market values rise and fall from their “IPO” price based on market sentiment, weekly player performance, and in relation to their expected career value.
The idea isn’t new–there was once a website that allowed players to ‘invest’ in the careers of actors in a similar fashion to what Mojo is doing. The big difference is that Mojo is licensed and live in New Jersey and will be coming to other states–at least to places like Colorado and Ontario that are among the few jurisdictions to do sports betting right. SportsDataIO will provide data solutions to help power the Mojo pricing engine.
Mojo has some big names involved–the smartest and richest is ‘serial entreprenuer’ Marc Lore. He’s best known as the founder of Jet.com which was purchased by WalMart for $3.3 billion USD in 2016. He now owns the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves. The ‘biggest name’ is retired baseball player Alex Rodriguez. The press release from SportsDataIO is funny but it sure looks like A-Rod’s ‘people’ got to vet it before it was released. Check out the reverential way that he’s referred to in the announcement:
Today SportsDataIO announced that Mojo, the sports stock market led by visionary founders Marc Lore, Alex Rodriguez, Vinit Bharara, and Bart Stein, has tapped SportsDataIO to aid in its player value pricing.
I’ll let that one slide since Lore, Bharara and Stein are all really sharp guys. It’s doubtful, however, that any of them would self gloss as ‘visionaries’. I’d guess that term was added by the humility challenged A-Rod or his supplicants. Ditto for the ‘ABOUT Mojo’ section:
Mojo is the sports stock market that lets fans use their knowledge and intuition like never before. Mojo gives you the opportunity to make real money bets on an athlete’s career prospects, with real-time price changes and instant liquidity, meaning users can enter or exit their position at any time, just like a stock. The company was co-founded by MLB legend Alex Rodriguez and serial entrepreneurs Marc Lore, Vinit Bharara and Bart Stein.
A-Rod was no doubt a damn good ballplayer. The ‘legend’ part is debatable. Unless you’re charged with doing A-Rod’s PR when it is no doubt ‘standard operating procedure’ to refer to him in that manner. I wonder if A-Rod has it written into his deal that any time he’s referred to by name in press materials that a hyperbolic superlative is attached. Of course, I’d imagine having the ‘visionary MLB legend’ involved is a good hook for media attention.
Mojo’s vice president Lax Chandra–another real sharp guy who may or may not be a ‘visionary’–had this to say about the SportsDataIO deal:
“We came to SportsDataIO for their best-in-class player data. Nothing is more vital to establishing the opening value of a players’ stock than complete, accurate and timely data. Their comprehensive sports data solutions, combined with ease of use, were essential to Mojo launching in time for the NFL season. We look forward to working together for years to come.”
Dustin Sullivan, President of SportsDataIO, had these comments:
“Mojo is a sports stock market where fans can invest in athletes, we are looking forward to Mojo’s continued growth in this exciting new market.” “We are proud to have been selected as a key ingredient to the Mojo market making – our data. Our precise, historical and real-time player data solutions continue to give clients like Mojo, FanDuel, Entain and others what they need to make their products more valuable.”
A-Rod humor aside, I really like everyone involved with Mojo and love what they’re doing. Any company that tries to do sports betting in a new and interesting way is an asset to the industry and I wish them the best of luck.