Jason Robins is the co-founder and CEO of DraftKings, the popular sports betting and fantasy sports site. He is also a longtime crypto fan who holds a variety of coins and NFTs—and he has some ideas about how to encourage more people to use crypto.
Robins believes the current state of crypto is much like the early internet, which was defined in part by rampant scams and complicated interfaces that intimidated non-tech-savvy users. He’s hardly the first to draw that comparison, but he believes what might help make crypto more accessible to the masses is a little bit of centralization.
“The types of things [we need] to become mainstream fly directly in the face of decentralization. If you don’t have some sort of centralized control, it’s hard to protect people from themselves,” he said on the latest episode of Decrypt’s gm podcast. “And I do think there’s a lot of people that are going to be intimidated to say, I can accidentally type in a wrong address and send my $10,000 NFT to somebody and I’m never getting it again. And there’s no middleman in between that’s stopping and making sure that I’m protected from that. And the person who calls me five times to make sure the wire instructions haven’t changed before they actually process the wire, there’s none of that. And you need some sort of centralization to manage that.”
Robins acknowledged that many of the most committed people in crypto are also deeply committed to the ideal of decentralization.
“I know the purists won’t like this,” he said. “But does there need to be some element of centralization that comes in that allows for some of the things that have to happen to make blockchain technology be more applicable to mainstream use cases?”
DraftKings has been pushing into NFTs in the past year, from Robins and his two co-founders Matt Kalish and Paul Liberman joining the advisory board of Tom Brady’s NFT platform Autograph, to DraftKings launching an NFT marketplace that sells NFTs from Autograph, to DraftKings offering CryptoPunks as fantasy contest prizes.
For the crypto industry, Robins is worth hearing out, and not only because he built a successful public company. He’s also deeply experienced with navigating regulation—a hurdle very familiar lately to crypto founders—as a result of navigating DraftKings through a gauntlet of politicians that were hostile to sports gaming.
But although sports betting and crypto have both encountered trouble from regulators, Robins cautions that most of DraftKings’ battles were fought at a state-by-state level, rather than the federal level as is the case right now with crypto. And even as DraftKings embraces crypto, Robins says he is content to let the likes of Coinbase’s Brian Armstrong and FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried take the lead when it comes to regulation.
“Sam is a smart guy, I’m sure that he knows what he’s doing,” said Robins. “And Brian Armstrong at Coinbase, they’ve really just been pioneers. And I know they get critiqued for a lot of things, and I get that, but people don’t give them enough credit. They they were by far, more than anyone, the largest force in creating the industry in the United States.”
Robins also touched on a range of other topics, including DraftKings’ future plans for crypto payments, and exactly why athletes are flocking to crypto and NFTs. Listen to the full episode wherever you get your podcasts.
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