Esports and cryptocurrency are 2 industries growing with unbelievable speed, but also vastly misunderstood by the majority of the world. A lot of money is being poured into each industry with companies as large as HP even getting into the fold with esports.
Watching from afar as the revolutions in esports and crypto developed was Alexandre Dreyfus, who had mostly made a name for himself in the world of poker through his ownership of the largest live poker database Hendon Mob, the Global Poker Index, and more recently the Global Poker League, which turned the game of poker into this sort of international gamefied competition.
Dreyfus was pretty quiet about the fact that he has been very busy seeking an opportunity outside of the poker world that would join his interests in esports and crypto. That changes today with his announcement that a startup called chiliZ has raised $27 million through private placement.
It is being referred to as a blockchain-based platform allowing fans to crowd-manage sports — primarily esports — teams and organizations. Dreyfus took his inspiration for the project from the soccer clubs Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, which are collectively controlled by over 90,000 “socios” and 170,000 “socios,” respectively. These socios are essentially members who democratically elect the clubs’ presidents.
“After speaking to various esports teams, we realized they shared our experience and our frustrations – there were no tools, and there was no way to monetize that fan base,” says Dreyfus. “The solution to the problem was inspired by traditional sports, more specifically the way in which teams like Real Madrid/FC Barcelona, and also the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, were democratically managed by ‘socios’ or fans. We decided to explore and scale this idea to a completely different level thanks to the latest technologies.”
What chiliZ and Dreyfus anticipate is that the esports landscape, in particular, will not only be shaped by the games, teams and leagues that draw the most players and spectators, but by those best able to activate and monetize audiences by giving fans power. Dreyfus believes that fan engagement is the secret sauce to success of esports growth and chiliZ will serve as the engine to tokenize the process of giving fans power, which is where the crypto element comes in.
“Our vision – to build a tokenised voice platform that focuses on a fan-driven experience – is a first for the industry,” says Dreyfus. “While it is disruptive, it does not compete with the existing ecosystem. In essence, it complements the ecosystem, and will ultimately help to shape and grow the industry as a whole.”
Crypto investors in Asia largely put up the $27 million invested in chiliZ to date, according to Dreyfus. His biggest challenge with the raise was based on the prices of many crypto assets falling far from their peaks in the past few months.
“Raising crypto funds in a bear market is actually pretty difficult, but it’s also very exciting, mainly because we believe that we have a very strong business model and utility in the esports space,” adds Dreyfus. “Moreover, many of our crypto investors have invested on a strategic level, and are helping to further build our initiative.”