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Do Americans want to gamble on individual athletes? Marc Lore is betting on it with Mojo – TechCrunch

Mojo, a seven-month-old, 40-person company based in New York, plans to build a new sports exchange where fans can bet on athletes like stocks. Though scheduled to launch this fall, the fledgling company has already raised $75 million in Series A funding led by Thrive Capital with participation from renowned entrepreneur Marc Lore, MLB great Alex Rodriguez and Tiger Global.

The investors rely on more than the idea. Mojo’s co-founder and CEO is Vinit (“Vinny”) Bharara, a childhood friend of Lore’s who previously co-founded a trading card company with Lore That sold to Topwas a co-founder of Diapers.com with Lore (the sold to Amazon) and recently sold two other companies. One of them was a publisher who sold to Bustle Digital Group last year; the other was Cafe, a podcast company that Bharara started with his brother Preet Bharara (the former US Attorney). sold to Vox last year.

Even with that kind of track record, Mojo is, as we understand it, very ambitious. The company declined to answer our questions today, saying it was “too early” in its path. So note that our understanding comes from conversations with gaming and finance industry veterans, a short bloomberg history via Mojo and a LinkedIn post published today by Bharara, where he writes that he and Lore have dreamed of this company since they tapped around in elementary school together.

Here’s what we superior we can recognize. Mojo invites users to buy futures derivatives largely determined by the type of stats you may have see baseballa method that measures a player’s worth in all areas of the game by attempting to determine how many wins he or she is worth more than a substitution.

We don’t have an exact idea how Mojo will determine these values, but in his post, Bharara uses phrases like “objective statistics” and “intrinsic value” and “price integrity” to imply that Mojo will not just be pulling numbers out of his pictorial behind.

Mojo – which might have a clearinghouse partner? – will appear to be on the other side of these derivatives, contracts that will likely invite participants to bet that an athlete’s stats will improve or deteriorate over time based on a number of factors, such as expected changes in the squad of a team or the tendency of certain athletes to injure themselves. (Again, we’re a bit of a guess, but Bharara — who runs the company alongside the former Walmart.com exec beard stone — uses the term ‘market making’ in his contribution. He also talks about “instant liquidity” in his post, which you can’t necessarily get by trying to find another market participant to take the opposite position that you took.)

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

Whether or not Mojo needs the buy-in from those thousands of players (or their player associations) doesn’t seem to be the mind of anyone we spoke to today, although everyone agreed it would be nice if it did.

Our kind sources also hinted that it’s unlikely players would be able to bet on themselves – something else we’ve been wondering about – given the technology Bharara says Mojo is building. In his post, he says the plan is to throw “complex engineering, advanced data science, sophisticated market making, and innovative app design” into the development of his platform, so if Mojo doesn’t do all those things badly – it’s possible! – it will probably know exactly who its customers are.

Of course, a much more pressing question is whether the state gaming commissions will approve Mojo. Given how much is at stake, New York is reportedly almost moving in 80 million dollars in tax revenue since it opened online betting in early January — it seems likely it will, but Bharara told Bloomberg deals with such regulators are still in the works.

One can also wonder if Americans really want to bet on individual athletes.

We suspect they will. Meanwhile, Bradley Tusk – a FanDuel investor who was once responsible for “Saving Fantasy Games in New York‘ – told us this morning via email, ‘We’ve looked at various ‘exchanges for x’ and so far none have really worked.

“This begs the question, when they can now bet directly on games and performance, will people want to buy and sell derivative stocks in an athlete? It feels like Americans have a limitless appetite for gambling and investing. Mojo better hopes that’s the case here too.”

Do Americans want to gamble on individual athletes? Marc Lore is betting on it with Mojo – TechCrunch Source link Do Americans want to gamble on individual athletes? Marc Lore is betting on it with Mojo – TechCrunch

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