The Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast by Marcus Luer
Claude Ruibal, “40 Years of Learning in Sports”

Claude Ruibal, “40 Years of Learning in Sports”

November 27, 2020

Claude Ruibal is another true Legend in our industry, with nearly 40 years across multiple major companies and roles over his career.  It’s a bit longer than the usual podcast as it was impossible to put four decades of incredible experiences in the usual 60 min.  Hang in there, it’s worth every minute, learn from his stories, from his early days at the LA 84 Olympics to his roles at ISL, Coca-Cola, Universal Sports Network, YouTube, Infront to now consulting with start-ups.

 

Key Highlights

  1. Early days,  out of law school, getting involved in the LA 84 Olympics with two years to go to the Games – negotiating deals as part the Olympic Families team
  2. Learning to work as a team and overcoming the Russian pullout, was the big learning
  3. Next stop, Democratic Presidential Campaign – Michael Dukakis
  4. United States Football League – new American Football League – managing player relations, contracts – one of the owners was Donald Trump (and listen to what happened)
  5. From the US to Europe/UK – Saatchi & Saatchi – big UK agency – working with major clients who were sponsors of major events, ie. the 1992 Albertville, Winter and 1992 Barcelona, Summer Olympics
  6. Off to Switzerland, ISL Marketing – SVP, selling media and sponsorship for the IAAF properties (International Association of Athletic Federation) now World Athletics
  7. Back to the US, leading Coca-Cola’s global Football program (over US$ 300 million investment) – Leading new campaigns, ideas and activations
  8. Dotcom boom time, getting into Ask.com (Ask Jeeves) – selling search solution to the IOC, helping raise capital for country-specific launches, having to manage things during the dotcom crash
  9. Universal Sports Network – after 20 years in corporate/agency roles, co-founding (with Tom Hipkins) a multi-platform cable channel for Olympics sports (outside of the Olympics) for the US market – original name WCSN (World Championship Sports Network)
  10. Taking an idea from start to a full fledge business, bringing in PE group InterMedia Partners – heavy capital intense business, which then attracted NBC Sports
  11. From the start-up world – next stop -  Google and YouTube – Global Head of Sports Content – cleaning up the illegal use of content on YouTube,  building trust with IP owners in the platform
    1. Rightsholders clearly not happy with YouTube but also using them to scare traditional broadcasters that Google/YouTube might get involved in rights bidding
    2. New business model, some upfront guarantees against advertising dollars for the bigger sports, but mostly a rev-share model of ad dollars
    3. 2012 – 2014 Olympics, first time streaming bigger live content on YouTube & live stream of Red Bull Stratos jump (2012) – biggest live concurrent stream at the time (9 mil)
    4. Pushing YouTube to go after more sports rights at the time, looking at subscription model besides the advertising model
    5. His views for the future in the rights space – subscription (B2C) and ad model is the key for many rightsholders
    6. YouTubes, rev share model – quick insights
  12. Wanda Sports Group (Infront & HBS) – continuing his learning, taking charge of Digital, Production and Sports Solutions
  13. New technologies from digital on-field branding, ie. different branding for different regions to driving innovations in Infront X Lab
  14. HBS, Chairman of the Board, more oversight role, strong leadership team with Francis Tellier leading the production
  15. Latest role, Ubiquity Sports - working with start-ups in interactive digital fitness, athlete tracking, contextual advertising solutions and AI-driven solutions

 

About

Claude Ruibal is a senior, results-driven leader who has extensive experience in both the sport and digital industries. His impressive career has included many strategic and entrepreneurial roles across the US and Europe, including most recently as Chairman of HBS and SVP Infront - Digital, Production & Sports Solutions. Prior to that Claude was the Global Head of Sports Content Partnerships at GoPro, and before that as Global Head of Sports Content at Google/YouTube. Previously, he acted as Chairman & CEO of Universal Sports Television Network and Director of Global Football Management at the Coca-Cola Company.

He contributes proven abilities such as starting and managing new ventures, developing and executing integrated consumer-marketing and sales programs as well as building front and back end consumer Internet streaming and content solutions. Claude Ruibal has a Juris Doctorate from the Georgetown University School of Law and a BA in Political Science from the University of California Santa Barbara.

 


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Michael Broda, “From Eastern Europe to Esports”

Michael Broda, “From Eastern Europe to Esports”

November 14, 2020

Michael Broda originally from Cologne, Germany (my hometown) is now building an Esports Group from Prague, Czech Republic.  Insiders know that Eastern Europe is a hot bed for start-ups with smart tech entrepreneurs in the region.  Michael plays both across his native German-speaking markets and Eastern Europe and is now looking to conquer the world with ESPL, a new gaming platform for the casual gamer.  Lots of great insights into the Esports ecosystem and tech side of the business.  Enjoy.     

 

Key Highlights

  1. Michael’s early days being a Banker in Commerzbank Cologne, at that time it was cool to be a banker
  2. Moving from Cologne to Prague (Czech Republic), back to his parents’ roots in a CFO role for a strong midsize company (EURO 400 mil turnover) in his mid-late 20s
  3. Start of Delta Capital,  15-20 investments, using his own money. Started with turn-around of distressed companies and then start-ups. Combining old and new economy.
  4. Starting his first investments in Esports and Gaming -  esports.com – portal about Esports news and info
  5. Sold esports.com to Pro7/SAT 1 Media group
  6. Founded Esports Investment Group (EIG) -  several early stage investments
  7. Focus on digital infrastructure, data, monetization and traffic – focus on growth of Esports industry beyond the US$ 1 billion
  8. Vibadou – German social media platform – all about creating authentic content, started with Pro-Football teams, future Esports teams
  9. Esportido – white label club and athletes app for unique fan and sponsor engagement
  10. Fantasy.ai – data scientist looking at new solutions for Esports community, from matchmaking to AI solutions
  11. Gaming to Esports, closed data to open data, knowing who is in front of the screen and then provide the best products for them
  12. Eastern European IT startup ecosystem vs Silicon Valley, price advantage and high quality, networking is key
  13. ESPL.gg – Esports Players League – from bedroom warrior to Pro-player
  14. TwoG Nation (another one of his investments) helped ESPL to start its tech engine.
  15. Singapore and Kuala Lumpur (KL) connection via his partners in ESPL
  16. Structure of Esports Ecosystem from top-level tournaments by Publishers to amateur events on 3rd party platforms – building a career path from amateur to pro-player
  17. Mobile Esports focus – initial focus on South East Asia (SEA) because of strong mobile first and some markets even mobile only markets
  18. Expanding globally, 12 markets now, Mexico, India, etc, currently about 100k registered users – target 1 million next year
  19. Free for now, future Freemium model – special content, coaching, etc
  20. Franchise Model.  ESPL provides the backend system, local team runs the local marketing and brings the customers
  21. Last thoughts on Esports and the growth in future  

 

About

Michael Broda is a German serial entrepreneur and former investment bankerHe studied both, banking and finance, MBA and strategic management, MSc. He started his career in 1998 in Commerzbank Cologne and moved into the investment banking focusing on financial markets and financial derivatives.

In 2002 he moved into his first top management position, becoming CFO of CE Wood, a medium sized cee wood processing company with USD 300 mil revenues and 5000 employees in the Czech Republic. 

In 2006 he started his own venture and founded Delta Capital, an investment holding which invested into distressed assets, later also startups. Under the roof of Delta Capital he founded several companies, and acquired and sold more than 15 companies. 

In 2016 he made his first investments in the sports industry starting with Fantasy sports and later esports.com. He was fascinated by the esports industry and took over esports.com as CEO, 2 years later the company was sold to Pro7/Sat1 Media Group, one of the biggest media houses in Europe.

For the past 4 years he is very focused on the business of Esports, especially in the area of AI, infrastructure and new solutions in this space. Michael is currently leading ESPL as Founder and CEO.

 


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Alex Dreyfus, “From Poker, Online Betting to Fan Token”

Alex Dreyfus, “From Poker, Online Betting to Fan Token”

November 5, 2020

Alex Dreyfus, originally from France, now living in Malta, one of the betting and Blockchain hubs of the world. Alex is a true serial “net-preneur”, having started several internet related businesses, exited some successfully and struggled with some others. We are diving deep into the world of Blockchain, Tokenization (Club Token) and his current platform Socios.com powered by ChiliZ.  Alex, is raw, open and shares it like it is (enjoy the colourful language).

 

Key Highlights

  1. Started off as a computer geek in his hometown in France, first computer at the age of six and build his own Online Forum at the age of 14
  2. Left school at the age of 18 without any degree & without parents approval, in 1995, created his first company Mediatis which he sold later to Publicis Group
  3. Next act, Webcity.com – initial great success and then company went bankrupt (lesson, not as important to be first….)
  4. Took a short term job to survive and then started working on his next move, WINAMAX , online poker and sports betting website targeting France (license from the UK)
  5. Sold his shares due to conflict with partners and moved to Malta (2006) and started Chiligaming – Chilipoker – online betting
  6. Sold business six years later to listed US company (Bally Technologies now called Scientific Games, listed company)
  7. Next founded Global Poker Index, global poker ranking (ATP of Poker) – started to create a “sports like product” - Global Poker League (only lasted one year, currently on hold)
  8. Learned the importance of monetization of fanbase and that’s how ChiliZ got started
  9. Love hate relationship with Crypto initially – anti-Bitcoin before he started to understand the tech behind it while working on Esports and Fan engagement ideas
  10. ChiliZ – raised US$ 66 million through private placement in first half of 2018 (at the height of ICO’s, before crypto crash).  Got timing right (compared to Sportsfix, Marcus’ ICO in later 2018)
  11. ChiliZ is the currency of the ecosystem, the Token for activities.  Also includes an Exchange to trade the token.
  12. Originally focused on Esports but gave up due to various reasons and focused on traditional Sports teams  
  13. Socios.com – fintech fan engagement & monetization platforms for sports teams
  14. Vision – 99% of fans are not in the Stadium, how can you get the 99% deeper engaged using a Fan Token (creating Superfans)
  15. Having a share of voice – digital asset vs crypto currency  - Fan token are not a crypto currency –
  16. Socios.com launched a year ago,  300k downloads, people buy and trade token
  17. How to buy Token on the platforms…..transaction flow
  18. Tiering of Clubs decides level of Token being put out into the market
  19. Pricing of token, initially set – fluctuation based on demand once listed
  20. What is a fan – many ways to define, Fan token purchased by Crypto enthusiasts (50%) (early adopters) and superfans (non-crypto audience) (50%)
  21. Currently token only traded on ChiliZ platform, soon tradeable outside on other exchanges
  22. US$ 5-6 million worth of token sold (not money raised as you will hear 😊)
  23. Business Model – for Socios and Clubs  and discussion about other innovative Tokenization and blockchain ideas to wrap it up

 

About

Alex is a serial web entrepreneur with more than 22 years of experience in the digital space, building and developing tech businesses. In the late 1990s, he pioneered Webcity, the web-based interactive tourism guide, before completing a buyout with retail giant Carrefour, and later merging with a competitor service and selling to Yelp. After co-founding Winamax (the largest French online poker room) and Chilipoker in 2006, the underpinning technology platform was sold to Bally Technologies (now Scientific Games).

In 2013, he acquired the Global Poker Index (live Poker’s leading ranking authority) as well as The Hendon Mob (the largest live poker database in the world). Dreyfus recently raised $66 million through a private token sale for Chiliz – a digital currency for sports and entertainment platforms. The first platform that will use Chiliz Tokens is Socios.com, a turnkey solution for football and sports clubs looking to adopt blockchain technology to monetise their fan bases.

To boost blockchain innovation in Malta, Dreyfus has also established the Chiliz Blockchain Campus –an accelerator and industry hub connecting some of the industry’s largest stakeholders across Asia and Europe, together with other emerging blockchain entrepreneurs. The Campus houses world-leading exchanges, crypto-friendly European banks and is a collaborative space for small to large blockchain companies.


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