Build (in) a bear

If you haven’t heard, crypto is in the winter, and boy it’s cold.


This means the narrative has shifted once again. NFTs have returned to being a scam, any project launched will inevitably fail and trading volumes have fallen off the sharpest of cliffs.


DigitalBits’ front-of-shirt deal is dead in the water with Inter Milan. And even a big beast like ConsenSys isn’t immune from the cold as they’ve seemingly lost their done deal with the Premier League to Sorare.


Such defunct deals represent a bygone time when the bull market made some Web3 companies and their sports partners comfortable to the point of over-optimism. And they add to the negative perception of an exciting but still relatively nascent Web3 sector.


The simple fact is that there’s still a distinct lack of industry understanding of Web3 (i.e. is the business model wholly reliant on token price, or is there an ecosystem and infrastructure there to support the investment), and how a sports organisation can make money with blockchain innovation.


Hopefully, our Web3 Summit (the second edition takes place next June again in London) is helping to raise the level of blockchain literacy in the market. And there are plenty of other great resources out there which can help you to understand how to decipher the good from the bad.


On the sponsorship front, conversations that I was having 12 to 18 months ago with many Web3 companies indicated that they were already past playing the game of sponsorship for the sake of building awareness. Now that the market has hit the skids, it’s fairly certain to say that they will not be changing their tune and jumping into deals.


Now, depending on your disposition, allow me to suggest two ways that sports can view this downbeat period.


Either give up with the Web3 space as your only interest in it was for sponsorship dollars. (Of course I’ll say that’s the wrong choice).


Or take your time to research the space, understand the areas of your business the technology could help to improve and then with this knowledge, go to market to find the right partner or partners to help you achieve these objectives. Web3 will not be the right solution to solve every problem you have.


For many years there’s been a lot of lip service given to the shift from ‘sponsorship’ to ‘partnership’, but very rarely is this actually followed through with when it gets to the nitty gritty.


With Web3, I don’t think the case has ever been stronger to forgo the short-term sponsorship money (if that is even on the table anymore) to find a long-term partner that can help you to successfully navigate the space.


I don’t suggest this through a lens of toxic positivity about the space. I realistically think it can be the smart commercial decision and bring more reward.


Web3 is complex and there are nuances that only those working in the space on a daily basis truly understand.


The sports business is like that too.


When Web3 and a sports organisation join in a real partnership, they can determine how web3 can best be utilised to:


  • Generate new revenues

  • Attract new fans

  • Improve current processes

  • Enhance existing or deliver new digital and physical experiences


I hope you agree that this is a more sustainable approach than a one-dimensional, logo-slapping sponsorship exercise.


So my advice would be to use this Web3 winter to do your research, understand your business challenges, and then go to market to find a partner that has the right infrastructure, ecosystem and track record to help you deliver future-proofed solutions to those challenges.