U.S. e-sports platform to launch $100 million cryptocurrency sale in September

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Unikrn, a U.S. sports betting digital platform backed by some of the biggest names in media, entertainment and sports, will launch the sale of $100 million in cryptocurrency next month, the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer, Rahul Sood, told Reuters in an interview earlier this week.

The sale is part of a trend in which creators of digital currencies in the blockchain space sell tokens to the public to fund their projects. Some start-ups call this mode of financing an initial coin offering (ICO); others refer to it as a “token sale.”

Cryptocurrency is a digital currency in which encryption techniques help keep transactions secure. Blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions underpinning the original online currency bitcoin.

Sood explained that Unikrn embraced cryptocurrency as a way to bypass banking institutions.

“The problem when you’re dealing with banks is that none of these guys are easy to work with,” Sood said. “You’re dealing with 20 different currencies, you’re dealing across borders. There’s no other reason to go this route other than to circumvent banking.”

The new coin will be called UnikoinGold, which will be a cryptocurrency version of the company’s existing coin UniKoin. The current UniKoin, which allows users to bet on e-sports in regulated markets and win prizes in markets where Unikrn is not licensed to operate, will be phased out once UniKoingold is launched.

Unikrn is capping its token sale at $100 million because “if we don’t, it’s going to go crazy,” Sood said.

Sood said there will be a pre-sale of the token in the next few weeks and a crowdsale in September. There will be no discount for early investors or company founders and employees.

Sood founded Voodoo, which manufactures high-end computers for video games, when he was in high school. He eventually sold his company to Hewlett Packard after 16 years and eventually joined Microsoft and ran the company’s venture fund for start-ups.

Seattle-based Unikrn, which was launched nearly three years ago, is backed by well-known investors including Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team; U.S. actor Ashton Kutcher’s venture firm Sound Ventures; Elisabeth Murdoch’s venture fund Freeland Ventures, as well as Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital. TabCorp, the largest betting company in Australia is also an investor.

The company raised $10 million from early investors, Sood said.

Elisabeth Murdoch is the daughter of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, while Shari Redstone is the daughter of Sumner Redstone whose family is a majority owner of several media groups including CBS Corp., Viacom, and MTV Networks.

Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Bernadette Baum