EtherSportz co-founder and CEO Matthew Skinner declares himself to be an expert generalist. “You could say that I have large amount of information on a wide array of subjects – with the exceptions being Microsoft’s SharePoint and cryptocurrencies. These two I do understand at a very deep level.”
Skinner has spent most of his adult career as a software engineer for Microsoft’s SharePoint projects which accounts for his level of expertise, but the interest in cryptocurrencies came from his hobbyist curiosity.
“I got into cryptocurrency in 2013.” he says. “Not into the actual mining or even buying coin, but in the supply of hardware for mining. I wasn’t too sure of the actual longevity of Bitcoin. So I made some good money on the kit but I didn’t keep the coins. Sadly.”
He is also familiar with eSports. “I got into PC gaming in the ‘90s when DOS was still the main operating system.” he says. “I really enjoyed strategy games and even tried my hand at building a game. It was listed for a while in the Apple store but I think it’s gone now.”
Skinner became aware of the opportunity in eSports as their popularity grew. “Back in 2015 the market was worth about $300 million; now it has grown to more than twice that at $700million plus. Experts predict it will have reached $1.4 billion by 2020.” he says. ”Growth like that definitely poses an opportunity.”
One of the trademark events of the modern gaming environment is the major international tournaments. Top players vie for a place in the competition and lesser players pay to come and watch their gaming heroes.
“I tried to find some online sites where I could join tournaments but there were very few; they were badly attended and to be honest the user interface tended to be ugly. That is when I saw an opportunity for EtherSportz.”
Skinner and his co-founder, Josh Lamont, came up with a platform that would be easy to use, would allow non-crypto gamers to join, and that gave entry fees and prizes in both fiat and the mainstream altcoins Bitcoin and Ether.
“We looked at creating a platform token but then thought – why?” says Skinner. “We really looked at the business model and thought about why we would want players to have to buy our token to game. It also would have excluded non-crypto users at the start.”
Skinner is keen for gamers who have not used crypto before to engage and learn about the benefits. “But we were not going to force them.” he said.
Instead, EtherSportz built a token model that was aimed at raising the funds to build the platform and then would operate as a reward token. When the company gets into production and profitability – targeted Q4 for production and profitability shortly thereafter – then 50% of all platform profits will be paid to the token holders in proportion to the percentage held.
In the token sale, which only lasted 48 hours, EtherSportz and its ESZCoin made its hard cap of $3.4 million.
“We did not want crazy money, just development money, and we think we communicated this to the community. It is a long hold: it won’t be until at least the end of this year before we commence distributing rewards, but the more successful the platform is, the greater the rewards for the investors.”
Skinner and his team also evaluated the different tokenomics very closely before opting for a private placement and SAFT approach under Regulation S meaning only non-US citizens could apply. “We approached the SEC and looked at many different options and we determined this would be the best way to raise the funds while being compliant with our country’s rules.”
To fast track the setup of games on the platform, Skinner and his team opted to use the open APIs available on the Steam platform. “As the Steam games have the same API, this will fast track our upload of titles. Afterwards we will approach the bigger games. It’s a long-term strategy. We will need to support and maintain all our titles.”
Next step following the successful token sale is to get gamers on board. Skinner is in the process of approaching Twitch and Youtube streamers with large followings. “Some will come on board for the fun or the t-shirt, and some of the bigger streamers may need financial incentive, but we are confident once we get players on board our community will keep them there.”
The EtherSportz platform will throw regular daily and weekly tournaments, making them accessible to frequent gamers. There will be a ranking system so pro-gamers don’t win all the time. And they also plan to hold major international tournaments with gamers earning a place on the ladder over a longer period of weeks.
“We are confident that this platform will expand in line with the general gaming market,” says Skinner. “In fact, we are putting our money where our mouth is. One million tokens belonging to the team are locked into the platform for two years and a further million owned by the company are locked for five years. There will be no dumping by the management.” he says.