It’s now clear what it takes for a former NBA Commissioner to emerge from retirment. David Stern, who was at the helm of the league for three decades starting in the 1980s, has now thrown his weight — and capital — behind blockchain-fueled streaming sports startup SportsCastr, which is behind a new cryptocurrency dubbed FanChain.
Stern’s views on the cryptocurrency market have evolved from believing it to be comparable to “tulipmania” to respect for decentralized technology, and now he’s backing an initial coin offering (ICO) startup with an ERC-20 token.
“I then came to understand that blockchain technology had much to offer with respect to a range of transactions in many different industries, like the sports sector,” Stern told Forbes of his gradual embrace of this emerging industry.
Stern’s interest in cryptocurrencies isn’t shocking considering his tech savviness. He is a proponent for legal sports betting and has touted the capabilities such as mobile-fueled sports gambling ushered into the industry by his peers. He wasn’t always on board with sports betting, but as with cryptocurrencies, his position evolved over time.
When Stern left the court in 2014, he was credited for the success of the NBA and its multi-billion dollar annual profits. Under his tenure, not only did the value of the league balloon but so did player salaries and franchise price tags, leading to multi-year television deals and NBA fever among fans across the globe. If Stern is able to influence investors and participants for FanChain in the way he was able to do for the league, the blockchain startup is in for a wild ride.
Stern isn’t the sole investor, and the roster of backers extends to some of his peers from the professional sports industry, including NFL player Vernon Davis, Syracuse University Head Coach Jim Boeheim, retired NBA all-star Steve Smith and others.
FanChain is looking to solve the problem of sports media being one-sided, and it’s designed to appeal to the sports broadcaster in everyone. It lets users who are watching sporting events not only select which sports commentary they choose to listen to but also participate by providing their own live streaming video sports commentary — including a half-time show, for instance.
These announcers are rewarded with digital tokens, which fuel the FanChain ecosystem that is comprised of a FanWallet, digital goods, subscriptions and more. FanChain says that it puts the power of the play-by-play in the hands of the fans and gives them a chance to share in the value.
FanChain is launching a private token sale shortly followed by a public crowdsale planned for this summer, according to Forbes. Given the regulatory climate, US investors are banned from participating.
David Stern Image from Kevin Maloney/Fortune Brainstorm Tech/Flickr