Go for the Geeks Redux

A conversation on Twitter earlier today reminded me of a post that I’ve been meaning to republish here at ye olde blog for quite some time. A few of you (probably just Dean and Jessica as they were contributors!) may remember the now defunt site R2 Collective, brainchild of Dean from Pull the Pocket aimed at elevating the discussion and potential solutions for racing’s issues. Naturally something like that couldn’t last! But the Twitter account endures

Today’s thread covered a lot ground that’s near and dear to my heart, let’s take a look…

Here’s something I wrote on the sustainability point a couple of years ago. But back to the R2 Collective post, it was originally published in 2010, and I almost republished it in 2013 in response to Dan Needham’s post on releasing the data in 2013 (2013 intro included below). Entitled Go for the Geeks, it’s is very much along the lines of thread between Candice, Nicolle and Charlie, especially these Tweets:


So thanks to Candice, Nicolle and Charlie for the reminder and the pertinent conversation, even though it would be great if we didn’t need to keep bringing this up. Now on to the post…

2013 Intro

The current official marketing initiative is aimed at young people, who like dress up, wear hats and DRINK DRINK DRINK! Hey, that’s cool, we were all young once, but even Jeremy Plonk of HorseplayerNow/Night School, who partners of the official initiative, isn’t sold on that approach.

They [Night School participants] trend in their 50s, by age, on average, and I love that. That tells me that Night School is serving its mission of developing players and customers, not kids who want to come out and wear fedoras and drink. I have no issues with that crowd, please know, but I just don’t see the point in overplaying a marketing budget to folks who are both disinterested and incapable financially and time-wise of being your core audience.

What approach is missing? One that appeals to those who might like to handicap and are likely to have a disposable income…

Original post published in December 2010

With the recent announcement of Betfair’s impending San Francisco hiring spree, it’s worth noting that there’s an unintentional opportunity here. Others, such as Dean, who are far more knowledgeable and interested in the subject than I, have already pointed out that exchange wagering appeals to a younger, more technologically savvy audience. But I think there’s something else worth noting.

San Francisco, home of Silicon Valley, is ground zero for smart, analytic, competitive types who are a perfect and often overlooked hunting ground for potential new players. While not specifically from Silicon Valley, we already know a few folks who fit this mold more than the profile of “the sports fan” or “the hardcore gambler”. Robin Howlett, Jessica Chapel and Lisa Grimm, just to name a few, are all smarty pants technical types who’ve worked in a similar type of environment . Ok, I have and currently do too. No doubt there are others as well.

What is it about these types of environments/jobs that make them a suitable hunting ground for potential players? In a recent 60 Minutes segment that profiled Facebook’s CEO and public unveiling of their new profile pages, Leslie Stall said this of the culture at Facebook:

As we walked through (Facebook), we got a sense of high level competition. Whether it’s writing code into the night or taking breaks to play high speed chess, it’s a constant game of one-upmanship.

I think it’s fair to categorize pari-mutuel wagering as a constant game of one-upmanship, whether it’s against yourself or your fellow players. This type of brainy, need to constantly prove yourself, quickly move on to the next thing culture found in technology companies is very compatible with playing the ponies.

The team that Betfair assembles, besides being likely to have come from a competitive culture elsewhere, will inevitably need to learn all about the products at Betfair to be successful. One has to think the new hires might already have some interest in gambling and possibly even horse racing, but maybe not. And of course there’s no guarantee that any of them will want to learn more about racing. Although I can’t help but think that there will be a few analytic problems solvers who’d love to put their money where their well-compensated mouth is.

(Anyone know how that worked out? Hit me up at @exactamundo or @superterrific).