May 26, 2022

Mojo, a seven-month-old New York-based company of 40 employees, says it wants to create a new sports stock marketplace where fans can bet on athletes like stocks. Though scheduled to launch this fall, the fledgling organization has already raised $75 million in Series A funding led by Thrive Capital, with input from established entrepreneur Mark Lorre, MLB great Alex Rodriguez and Tiger Global.

Investors are betting more than on the Idea. Mojo’s co-founder and CEO is Vinit (“Vinnie”) Bharara, a childhood friend of Lore’s who previously co-founded a card company with Lore, which was sold to Topps, with Lore Co-founded Diapers.com (which was sold to Amazon), and recently sold to two more companies. One was a publishing company that was sold to Bustle Digital Group last year; The other was Cafe, a podcast company Bharara co-founded with his brother Preet Bharara (a former US Attorney) that was sold to Vox last year.

Even with that track record, we understand Mojo is very ambitious. The company declined to answer our questions today, saying it’s “very early” in its trajectory, so please note that our conversations with gaming and financial industry veterans, Bloomberg’s short story on Mojo, and are taken from a LinkedIn post posted earlier today. Bharara, where he writes that he and Vidya have been dreaming about this business ever since they started hanging out together in elementary school.

we thinking We can distinguish. Mojo encourages users to buy derivatives on futures, which are essentially determined by the metrics you see in baseball, trying to measure a player’s value in all areas of the game, trying to see how many more wins they can get. Is it worth it instead?

we don’t know for sure How Mojo will set these values, which the company doesn’t tell us, but in his post, Bharara uses terms like “objective metrics”, “intrinsic value” and “value integrity” to suggest that Mojo isn’t just laying out numbers. Taking out your figurative ass.

Who can partner with Mojo – the clearing house? – this would presumably be the flip side of derivatives, contracts that could invite participants to bet that an athlete’s statistics will improve or worsen over time, such as an expected change in team selection or certain athletes. . (Again, we’re just speculating here, but Bharara, who runs the company along with former Walmart.com president Bart Stein, uses the term “creating a market” in his post. He refers to “immediate liquidity” in his post. You won’t necessarily get , if you try to find another market participant who will take the opposite position that you took.)

Ultimately, Bharara writes, the plan is to start with one sport—professional football, according to Bloomberg—and eventually “all sports, thousands of players, and many different markets.”

As far as Mojo needs to be bought from these thousands of players (or their player associations), no one we spoke to today thinks so, though everyone agrees it would be cool if they did.

Our friendly sources also suggested that players are unlikely to bet on themselves – another thing that surprised us – given the technology that Bharar says Mojo makes. In their post, they say the plan is to add “complex engineering, advanced data science, advanced market development, and advanced app design” to their platform development, so if Mojo isn’t doing it all badly, it’s possible! “Maybe he’ll know exactly who his clients are.

Of course, the very pressing question is whether Mojo will be approved by state gambling commissions. Given how much is at stake – New York City has received almost $80 million in tax revenue since online betting opened in early January – it seems unlikely they will, but Bharara told Bloomberg that such regulators will do so with this agreement. Happen.

It’s also fair to wonder if Americans really want to bet on individual athletes.

We doubt it. But when asked what he thought of the concept, Bradley Tusk — a FanDuel investor who was once credited with “saving fantasy games in New York” — told us via email this morning: “We looked at several stock markets for X ”, and so far no one has really added.

“The question here is whether people would be willing to buy and sell Athlete derivatives if they can now bet directly on play and performance. Americans seem to have an unfathomable appetite for gambling and investment. Mojo better hope it applies here too.”

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