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Eamonn Donlyn: How Blockchain is Turning the Global Sports Industry on its Head

Blockchain. Either you’re tired of hearing about it, or you feel it’s the next major revolution in global tech.
For most, they just don’t really understand what it is in the first place.
One thing is for certain, however. Blockchain is one of the most innovative pieces of technology to be created in recent years, and the potential use cases are endless.
For Denver-born and Dublin-based Eamonn Donlyn, blockchain has become more than just a talking point. He has doubled-down, and firmly believes blockchain will completely disrupt the global sports industry as we know it in the coming years.

 

O-Z: Can you tell me a bit about your background, and career prior to SportVEST?
Eamonn: I spent 18-years across media and tech, starting with 11 at ESPN. I was lucky enough to be part of some great teams there, and won a few awards on the production side in the US (He’s modest. They were Emmy’s).
Then I jumped to Dublin and London to run a large operations team, responsible for 10 TV channels across EMEA including the Premier League. This was before I decided to move into business development in media, and then into blockchain 5-years ago.
I enjoy the intersection of technology and human capital, as I enjoy helping others find success the most rewarding.

 

O-Z: Blockchain is probably the most talked-about technology of the past decade. First off, how did you get involved in the space, and secondly why do you feel it will be so revolutionary?
Eamonn: A buddy of mine in Hawaii (I lived there for 3-years after leaving London) was trying to make the islands a blockchain destination, way back in 2012, which was a bit early. I was more intrigued by the underlying concepts behind decentralized thinking. When I left the media industry in 2015, I just dove into researching blockchain for almost a year, and then came out to Silicon Valley and founded a startup with a former Google braniac.
In my view, the technology itself is only one piece of the revolutionary nature. It’s the decentralized THINKING that excites me the most.
When we think about cross-border and global solutions, and we approach them from a decentralized perspective, we are able to solve problems in ways which one nation never could. That makes the long-term results very revolutionary indeed.

 

O-Z: There are lots of potential use cases for blockchain in sport. Smart ticketing, crypto sponsorships and fan revenue sharing are but a few. Where do you see blockchain impacting the sports industry in the near future, and how long do you think it will be before this tech is being utilized everywhere?
Eamonn: While it is the obvious one, smart ticketing and decentralizing the ticket resale market are two of the most needed and will have an everyday impact on anyone that attends sporting events. The fact that the everyday person can no longer access tickets at face value due to an accepted ‘black market’ is something that I think has hurt the sporting world more than most realize. So that realm is the best use case going, and I think we’ll see that coming to fruition over the next couple of years as the tech matures.
In the long term, I think there is great potential for intellectual property to be the most impactful, with sporting rights and more being transformed. However, it will take quite a bit of time before there are standards across the industry that would be suitable for this type of structure and thinking.

 

O-Z: What’s your take on the future of tokenization disrupting traditional VC models?
Eamonn: Well, having spent the last two years living in Silicon Valley (and apologies for using such a broad stroke over an entire region), it seems clear to me that the culture in VC land is broken. When every single decision revolves around chasing unicorns for very few select participants, the simplest business decisions can become complicated in a hurry.
As we see the stock markets evolve in this space, the VC markets evolve also. There are certain laws that are required to protect ignorant investors, but democratizing the early access to burgeoning companies opens up so many more opportunities for exciting ventures to get funded in ways never before imagined. I’m hopeful the market will develop into a tokenized model in the years to come.

 

O-Z: Apart from blockchain, what are the most innovative technologies you’ve seen emerge in the sports tech space recently?
Eamonn: The obvious growth of esports, and advancements in sports betting with legalization in the US have to sit near the top. Wearable technology applied in the athlete data sector pops to mind immediately. I’ll avoid the controversial VAR for now!!
But as we see VR and AR evolving, and immersive fan experiences coming to the forefront, there is an opportunity for sport to be a driving force for the evolution of 5G as it matures and reaches the market. The IoT advancements will be very rapid, and the fan experiences could serve to be a great testing ground for the marriage of 5G and IoT. Blockchain will play a part in that evolution also, in my opinion.
Eamonn will be speaking on the SportsTech & Innovation stage at One-Zero 2019. Tickets are now on sale to join Eamonn, and over 500 other like-minded sports business professionals on 17 September.