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Exclusive interview with Rahul Sood, CEO and co-founder of Unikrn

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Exclusive interview with Rahul Sood, CEO and co-founder of UnikrnReading Time: 6 minutes

 

Rahul Sood is the CEO and co-founder of Unikrn, the world’s leading esportsbook innovator. He started his first company, the world’s first boutique PC manufacturer, is his teens and later sold it to HP. After leaving HP, he joined Microsoft as the founder and CEO or the startup incubation branch then-called Microsoft Ventures. Rahul is a long-time avid gamer and esports fan who also enjoys windsurfing in his spare time.

 

You mentioned about two “game-changing” products from Unikrn in your email. Could you tell us more about the products?

Rahul Sood: We have 3 singular experiences launching at Unikrn: Unikrn UMode, Unikrn Virtual Game and Unikrn Esportsbook’s Streamer Betting.

Unikrn UMode is the first online skill betting extension for matchmaking games such as Fortnite, League of Legends, Dota 2, Halo and Counter-Strike. Unlike peer-to-peer betting, UMode lets players bet on their normal online matchmaking without betting opponents because Unikrn sets the odds, which lets you bet anytime in fair games without any worries about sharks ruining your fun.

The Unikrn Virtual Game is a curated collection of exciting professional esports matches from the past which are randomly selected and played fresh. There’s a new round every minute, and fans can go to bet on esports without ever facing delays or content gaps, which is an amazing quality-of-life improvement for esports fans used to waiting between rounds, games and tournaments.

Unikrn’s Streamer Betting uses in-house odds-determining trader bots and advanced screen-reading technology to interpret games happening on stream and set odds in real time, even updating odds as matches advance. We’re excited for how this will let fans play along with streamers and improve the community thrill of wins. After all, betting is better as a social experience, and very little in gaming is more social than streaming in its prime!

 

How do you think these products would change the way the betting industry operates?

Rahul Sood: The betting industry is still behind the curve on the way esports opens interactivity, data fidelity and sheer volume. There’s never been a challenge in sports akin to trying to place reliable odds on streamers. There’s YEARS of content hours consumed from Twitch every second across thousands of channels. Besides Unikrn, the world of betting operators hasn’t begun to scratch the surface of what gamers and esports fans are making possible, whether that’s creating 24/7 skill-based betting, new ways to package esports around the clock or ways to bring people together to cheer on their favorite players.

You are aiming to introduce innovative technologies to betting that would disrupt the dominance of traditional booking houses. In fact, quite a few new companies have aimed to do this, and almost all of them have failed. What is the x-factor for your company, if there is any?

Rahul Sood: Unikrn is x-factor from surface to core. I think the biggest difference is our culture, Unikrn sits at the intersection of esports & video games, blockchain & cryptocurrency, and regulated gambling. As such we employ talented people from all over the world. Our COO, CFO, and CPO along with lead product people are based in Sydney. Our CTO and development teams are in Berlin, Croatia, and Poland. Head of Marketing and Content are in New York, we have content people in Las Vegas, and I’m in Seattle with our Chief of Staff. There’s no way in hell we could build such a company in one city, we required the best talent in all 3 areas. Unikrn is also a technology first company, whereas typical wagering companies are simply licensing software from other platforms.

Maybe most importantly, this isn’t hypothetical: Unikrn is launching multiple singular experiences designed for customers. While others are building wagering experiences around old titles that no one cares about, Unikrn is building wagering experiences around games people love to play. Our products are live and regulator-approved well ahead of our runway, and they’re being followed by many other innovations.

 

It’s almost two years since you launched your cryptocurrency token UnikoinGold, based on the Ethereum blockchain. Could you tell us more about its performance so far?

Rahul Sood: UnikoinGold has been a fantastic success, achieving everything it was set out to do and hitting most of its projected benchmarks at or ahead of schedule. The whole point of developing UnikoinGold was to give users the ability to use our platform and partner platforms without the delays and fees associated with using traditional banks. At its launch, UnikoinGold closed the largest-ever token sale in esports and gaming, and our partners have included major players in the crypto space because they’re impressed with the unprecedented utility UnikoinGold has brought to the broader crypto ecosystem. I think our biggest challenge is making our crypto more accessible and easier to use. We’re working hard on this, it’s one of the key pillars for 2019.

 

Unikrn is into its fifth year. The company has received excellent funding and financial back-up. But has the company really captured the public imagination as an esports venture? How do you look back at the last five years of Unikrn?

Rahul Sood: Unikrn is fortunate to have had several extremely successful acquisitions, partnerships and blockchain ventures — the truth is there’s a staggering and publicly invisible business-to-business problem solving portion of our operations. This is common in successful companies in the tech sector: Amazon, for example, makes more of its money on web services than any other division, but it’s a part of the company the public basically never sees.

Everybody at this company is proud of our success and our current place in the ecosystem, as well as optimistic about the future all the way to the horizon.

Being a legal and responsible operator requires diligence and time (working with regulators, governments, patent offices, partners and taking the time to develop proprietary technology can’t be rushed!). Our current user base has been completely won-over, and the next step is broader engagement with new fans.

So are we where we want to be? Of course not, we’ll never truly be satisfied, but believe me Unikrn of 2019 is far ahead of the Unikrn from 2014. We have plenty of work to do and lots of runway to get to where we’re going.

 

The USA is witnessing a revolution of sorts in the sports betting sector, following the US Supreme Court’s verdict on PASPA Act. What is your take on the future of sports betting in the USA and the role of Unikrn on it?

Rahul Sood: Unikrn is already live with Unikrn UMode in the majority of the United States, making us pretty much first in the door, and we are obviously supportive of states allowing responsible, regulated wagering to expand. Unikrn has well-established connections with land based casinos in Las Vegas, where our primary content team is based, and we expect the United States to be a growing market for us looking forward. I fully expect us to launch our sportsbook across the USA in partnership with some of the largest casino operators in the world.

 

You had held top positions at HP and Microsoft before founding Unikrn. How different are the mainstream software companies and the gaming and betting companies in terms of challenges, job profile and working environment?

Rahul Sood: Every job is different, but wagering companies bring with them an enormous responsibility to work in partnership with regulators and governments. This happens in any industry, but wagering rightfully brings it to another level. That said, there’s also a tremendous amount of crossover: software and gaming hardware companies are ultimately selling consumers an experience, and that’s exactly what Unikrn does.

We’re sitting at the intersection of three of the most blockbuster industries on earth, regulated gambling, esports & video games, and blockchain & cryptocurrency. It’s never easy, but nothing good comes without hard work.

You have been a serial entrepreneur, having started entrepreneurship from an unusually young age. You have also worked with a number of startups while you were a General Manager at Microsoft Ventures. What is the one thing that separates successful startups from the failures? And what is your advice to startup founders and wannabe founders?

Rahul Sood: Great startups understand that a brand is nothing without 4 key components. An incredible product that people love, a strong team culture made of the smartest and most talented people who eat breath and sleep your mission, a thriving community of fans and evangelists, and most of all strong leadership and patience. All of these components become the foundation of your brand, which if applied correctly becomes a living breathing entity. Most people miss the community part, can you imagine Telsa, OnePlus, or Apple without a community? They’d be like nowhere!

 

Finally, on a lighter note, it is written on your Wikipedia page that “Sood first took an interest in computers at the age of 11, having disassembled and painted his first computer—an Apple IIc—before even turning it on”. Did it really happen? And did you disassemble your first gaming device as well!? Do share an interesting anecdote to conclude the interview.

Rahul Sood: It absolutely happened, and I had successfully founded my boutique computer manufacturer, VoodooPC, just a few years later. I went on to sell that brand to HP. I guess everything that I’ve ever involved myself with is something I truly care about, for without that I don’t think I’d be anywhere near where I am today.

Source: Latest News at European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: Exclusive interview with Rahul Sood, CEO and co-founder of Unikrn

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Ubisoft to Support Ultra’s UOS Blockchain Testnet

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Ubisoft to Support Ultra’s UOS Blockchain TestnetReading Time: 2 minutes

 

Games distribution platform Ultra has announced that Ubisoft has become the first major gaming company to bolster its UOS blockchain, as a corporate block producer, during a trial period on the testnet.

Block producers will provide the infrastructure to validate transactions happening on Ultra’s blockchain. These transactions will include, for instance, in-game assets creation, ownership transfers between players or payments.

Ultra’s blockchain mainnet launch date is to be announced. Ubisoft will start contributing to the testnet before the end of the year and, if successful, will be part of the launch team for the Mainnet.

“Since Ubisoft is already a leader in the games industry and shows commitment to probe blockchain as a viable technology for games, we are very excited to be announcing our first cooperation of this kind with them. Ubisoft’s rich portfolio of world-renowned brands, including Assassin’s Creed, Just Dance and Far Cry, is a testament to their dedication to creating quality content for all, and their years long dedication to exploring blockchain technology ensures they have the knowledge and skills to be excellent block producers,” Nicolas Gilot, Founder and Co-CEO of Ultra said.

“Our team at the Strategic Innovation Lab strongly believes that all Blockchain use cases that bring value to players are important to support, and Ultra offers a solution that does just that. During this first trial period of collaboration, we hope to help them in bringing it to a larger scale and experiment with the possibilities this opens up for the industry,” Nicolas Pouard, Ubisoft’s Blockchain Initiative Director said.

“We’re on a mission to shake up the gaming industry by placing power back into the hands of developers and players. We are paving the way for a first-class game publishing platform, and we couldn’t do it without the support of companies such as Ubisoft,” Nicolas Gilot said.

Source: Latest News at European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: Ubisoft to Support Ultra’s UOS Blockchain Testnet

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PA Commonwealth Court Rules Pennsylvania Skill Video Game Machines are Slot Machines

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PA Commonwealth Court Rules Pennsylvania Skill Video Game Machines are Slot MachinesReading Time: < 1 minute

 

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has ruled that the video game machines manufactured and distributed by the company POM under the name “Pennsylvania Skill” are considered “slot machines” under Pennsylvania law.

“With this decision, we urge the Pennsylvania State Police, the Office of Attorney General, police departments and District Attorneys across the state to enforce Pennsylvania law to halt the proliferation of thousands of illegal Pennsylvania Skill slot machines now in convenience stores, bars, restaurants and other establishments in communities across the state,” Thomas C. Bonner, Group VP / Legal & Chief Counsel for Parx Casino said.

“We know that illegal slot machines and full-blown illegal casinos are popping up all over Pennsylvania. We know that minors are gambling, and we know that the state Lottery is losing tens of millions of dollars that should be going to our seniors because of these illegal machines. It’s time to confiscate these machines and put these illegal casinos out of business,” Bonner added.

The Commonwealth Court’s clarification that the “Pennsylvania Skill” games are “slot machines” under Pennsylvania law provides concrete and clear legal justification for law enforcement at the state and local levels to confiscate such machines and prosecute those responsible for manufacturing, distributing, leasing, or owning these machines.

Source: Latest News at European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: PA Commonwealth Court Rules Pennsylvania Skill Video Game Machines are Slot Machines

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UK ASA Clears Merkur Over Bus Ticket Promotion

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UK ASA Clears Merkur Over Bus Ticket PromotionReading Time: < 1 minute

 

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has cleared Merkur Cashino of targeting children with its advertising, after a £5 free-play offer on the back of a bus ticket prompted a complaint against the operator.

The complaint was against a promotion that appeared on the back of a child’s bus ticket in Birmingham and read “£5 Free Plays on a machine of your choice with this ticket.”

Rule 16.3.13 of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) states that gambling marketing must not be directed at those aged under 18, either through content or by where it appears. Gambling advertising is deemed to be directed towards children if under 18s make up more than 25% of their audience.

Merkur responded to the complaint by arguing that TicketMedia, the advertising agency behind the promotion, had confirmed to them that on the bus routes on which they advertised across the UK, 23.1% of ticket-holding passengers were between 5 and 15 years of age. In addition, Merkur said that the content and design of the ad had no specific appeal to under 18s, and an “over 18” symbol was included.

“We considered that in areas where there might be a concentration of people under 18 (for example on a bus route which served schools) the proportion of under 18s in the ad’s audience might be higher than 25%. However, on the particular bus route identified by the complainant, the highest percentage of child-fare paper tickets issued was 15% during term time,” the ASA said.

Source: Latest News at European Gaming Media
This is a Syndicated News piece. Photo credits or photo sources can be found on the source article: UK ASA Clears Merkur Over Bus Ticket Promotion

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