How does an ASX small cap convince a global brand like Formula 1 to jump in bed?
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Blockchain gaming play Animoca Brands (ASX:AB1) really meant it when it said in a trading halt on Friday it was entering a “major partnership”.
The company has partnered with the world’s richest and most recognisable motorsport brand, Formula 1, to develop ‘F1 Delta Time’, a blockchain racing game.
So how, exactly, does a Hong Kong-based $77 million tech company convince global behemoth that banked $2.6 billion in revenue in the 2018 financial that’s it worth getting into bed with?
Animoca co-founder Yat Siu says it’s a classic case of not what you know, but who you know.
“Our board of directors, including myself, has a history of dealing with large brands,” he told Stockhead, laughing when this journalist asked if it was a bit higher-level then filling out a generic form on the ‘Contact Us’ page.
“Our mission is to have people adopt blockchain as a technology of the future, and we believe in order to do that we thought we need to get brands on board.
“We have put feelers out to everyone, not just Formula 1, and our directors’ long-standing relationships with large brands around the world helped us out.”
He says Formula 1 is the biggest yet as Animoca tries to make good on that mission, saying it is targeting F1’s “financially savvy” audience.
“What a great way to move people onto the blockchain — talk to the biggest brand out there,” he says. “We have spoken to many brands and F1 definitely proved to be one of the most excited to work with us, and this game proves how forward-thinking Formula 1 is.
“And F1’s audience is super suited to blockchain. It’s typically an older, more financially savvy audience and it is supported by huge, famous brands such as Rolex.
“All these are the kinds of audiences we want to tap into, consumers with the financial means and understanding of the opportunity.”
F1 Delta Time will be based on “non-fungible tokens”. Think of them as the digital version of valuable collectible footy or Pokemon cards you would trade in the schoolyard as kids.
It will be rolled out in two phases across mobile, web and desktop, the first a collectible stage debuting on May 10 where players will trade tokens (masquerading as car parts) to ‘build’ their F1 car and team, and the second a race game on the blockchain, which Mr Siu said isn’t likely to be up and running until next year.
The deal did little to move the needle for the company however, with shares only rising as much as 6 per cent to 10.5c.
That is despite the money-making opportunity that F1 Delta Time will present, says Mr Siu.
“Every time you do a transaction we get a cut, and in order to build your car you need to buy the tokens,” he tells Stockhead, saying that, just like those collectible cards as kids, you might be able to make a bit of money if you play your cards right.
“The car parts will be on the marketplace and people will have to trade items to build their F1 car and team, and the scarcity of different car parts over a race and season means they will be valuable. So there are also eSport implications for this game.”
The collectability aspect of the game is similar to another game of Animoca’s, CryptoKitties, which launched in China last year and was a big driver of revenue for the company.
Delta Time is part of F1 owner Liberty Media’s efforts to broaden the fan engagement and revenue streams of the sport. Liberty acquired Formula 1 from previous owner Delta Topco in 2017 for around $11 billion.
It is also Animoca’s second big tie-up of late, following a deal with gaming giant Atari to release blockchain versions of its hit games just before Christmas.