- Mojo raises US$75m in funding round led by Thrive Capital
- Company plans to debut by end of 2022 and have football as its first sport
Former Major League Baseball (MLB) star Alex Rodriguez and ex-Walmart chief executive Marc Lore are investing in a new company aiming to become a ‘stock market’ for professional athletes.
The new business, which is called Mojo, allows fans to buy and sell players whose values rise and fall based on their performances.
According to Bloomberg, Mojo wants its product to work like more established trading apps such as Coinbase or Robinhood. Arrangements with state gaming commissions, regulators and sports leagues are reportedly still in progress.
The company plans to debut by the end of 2022 and will have football as its first sport. Mojo has also raised US$75 million in a funding round that was led by Thrive Capital and included Tiger Global Management. Bloomberg adds that the capital will be used to hire engineers, data scientists and market makers, with additional funds used for marketing.
Rodriguez (pictured above) and Lore will not be involved in the day-to-day running of Mojo, which is led by co-founder and chief executive Vinit Bharara.
“I’ve always thought the idea of a sports stock market was the holy grail – the vision could transform sports, and fandom as a whole,” Lore told Bloomberg.
“For years, I’ve heard people throw around the idea – but nobody has been able to do it. For the concept to truly work, you need underlying principles like intrinsic value and instant liquidity.”
On the face of it, Mojo’s concept appears to mirror that of the now defunct Football Index. Launched in 2015 as a self-described ‘challenge to traditional bookmakers’, the platform allowed users to buy and sell virtual shares in individual soccer players and receive dividends based on their performance.
Football Index entered administration last March and is currently suspended without a gambling licence. According to The Times, customers had lost nearly UK£90 million (US$118 million) as a result of the company’s collapse, with some individual users reporting losses of more than UK£100,000 (US$132,000).
Business partners Rodriguez and Lore, meanwhile, have been busy with various investments over the past year or so. In February 2021, they filed for a US$500 million initial public offering (IPO) through Slam Corp, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that focuses on businesses in sectors including sports, media and consumer technology.
Last year also saw the pair reach an agreement to buy the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Minnesota Timberwolves.