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Dapper Labs CEO discusses digital trading cards via NBA Top Shot

Roham Gharegozlou, Dapper Labs CEO joins the Yahoo Finance Live panel to discuss digital trading cards via NBA Top Shot.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Well, meantime, it's not just Bitcoin that's been getting a lot of talk here. Everyone might be talking about those moves that we've seen. But other uses of blockchain's technology are rapidly advancing, especially when it comes to non-fungible tokens or NFTs. That technology has enabled tokenizing specific and unique assets to allow trading tokens that represent verifiable pieces of art or memorabilia.

And one startup is capitalizing on that by tokenizing specific sports moments starting with the NBA. Dapper Labs founded NBA Top Shot in partnership with the league to let fans buy, trade, and sell their own specific game highlights, like LeBron James throwing down a dunk in a Lakers game. That one moment was later resold, for get this, more than $71,000.

So here to discuss that exciting combo of sports and crypto is the CEO of Dapper Labs, who joins us now. Roham Gharegozlou joins us right now. And Roham, thanks for taking the time to chat with us about this because it's a very interesting idea. Dapper Labs, people might know you guys worked on Crypto Kitties in years past. But this is similar. It's something that fans already know pretty well with sports. So I guess it's like digital trading cards. But explain to us how the process works.

ROHAM GHAREGOZLOU: Yeah, absolutely. So it's a partnership between the NBA, the Players Association, and our company Dapper Labs. And we originally wrote the first non-fungible token standard a few years ago. But like you said, this really brings it to life because at the simplest level, it's like trading cards. People open packs, trade with their friends in the marketplace, complete sets to get new content.

And what we did was we took the greatest moments in NBA history, the video highlights, and we turned those into the limited edition digital collectibles. And because they're digital, it's pretty much instant compared to postal mail. The marketplace, all of the trading history is fully transparent. And the videos on the cards is actually a lot cooler and more immersive than static photos.

And so we're super excited about it. We launched back in October in terms of our public beta. It's still in a beta period. The site isn't fully stable all of the time. But in the past 30 days, we've done over $50 million in sales. And I think we're on track to be the fastest growing marketplace ever.

AKIKO FUJITA: Wow, $50 million. I mean, you talk about the speed with which the transaction can happen being a plus. But also the fact that you can sort of verify the authenticity of that on the spot as well. Zack just alluded to the LeBron highlight that commanded $71,000. What's been the highest bid so far, what specific highlight?

ROHAM GHAREGOZLOU: Several cards have sold for over or around $100,000. Most of them have been LeBron. King James is on top of the marketplace. But a number one Zion also sold for $100,000 recently.

But I want to highlight that the big dollar sales get the headlines. But the majority of transactions on the Top Shot marketplace are actually under $50. And that's what makes digital special is that it doesn't cost-- you don't have to pay for a rating agency. You don't have to pay for postal mail. It's actually very low-friction and very accessible, whether you're competing at those sort of high dollar six figures or whether you're trying to build up a collection that's maybe a few dollars.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah. So this is what you guys are working on right now. Obviously, you're backed by players in the NBA, Coinbase ventures as well, and Idris and Horowitz. But you could see this idea expanding into a lot of different sports. And for the idea for people investing in this as an individual, the token that powers your chain also trades on some exchanges now. But my question on projects like these is, is there any actual worth to the token, in your case Flow Token, as it's called? Because you sell the packs in US dollars, right? So explain to me how the Flow Token plays in all this too.

ROHAM GHAREGOZLOU: Well, the thing to really understand is blockchains are public computers. They are infrastructure that you pay to use in the form of a token rather than paying dollars to Amazon or Google to run your operations on. And so that's what's happening behind the scenes.

You can come with credit card. You can come with Bitcoin. You can come with any currency you want to come with. But every transaction is being powered by the Flow blockchain. Every asset is being authenticated and secured by the Flow blockchain. And the fuel that pays for all of that and pays all of the computers that are around the world securing Flow-- and it's bigger companies like Deutsche Telekom and Samsung as well as small startups as well as individual NBA players. And they're connecting their computers and helping support this global network.

And the Flow token is what powers at all. But you don't need to know that in order to play NBA Top Shot. There's nothing about cryptocurrency. It's about basketball. And the crypto technology is simply what enables the software to exist.

AKIKO FUJITA: So the NBA is the first step. No question you see this expanding to other sports too. But what about applications beyond that? I mean, you've talked about being able to take the collectibles market into more of the modern era using this technology. What applications do you see?

ROHAM GHAREGOZLOU: I mean, you're already seeing tools that are coming about, helping people manage their portfolios and their collections. You're already seeing the community build fantasy games where you can sort of line up your collection against others. But we're also working on a mobile game where people can download an app off the App Store, start playing for free, and get access to limited edition highlights and different parks just by playing the mobile game.

And that's another cool thing about blockchain is that because it's public, anybody can build on it. So third party developers are already building marketplaces and other apps that use our assets, use the actual collection as part of them.

ZACK GUZMAN: I'm not sure if that was the cat that inspired Crypto Kitties is that just appeared on there behind you. But when we talk about-- I think that's the interesting thing. Oh, it's dog. He's a dog person. I see the difference.

But yeah, when we talk about it, it seems like it's one of those cool combos in crypto because it's something that people understand. People have been collecting collectibles in that space for years. And now it's all of a sudden on the blockchain and verifiable. But what's next? I mean, what do you see moving beyond it? If you got from Crypto Kitties to the NBA, what comes next?

ROHAM GHAREGOZLOU: Well I don't want to give away all our surprises. For right now, our focus is on the NBA. We're going to make it an absolutely amazing product. And I think we're barely scratching the surface. We're less than 50,000 users still. And so we're going to focus on making this an example of what a blockchain application that doesn't sort of put cryptocurrency as its sort of front-facing front door can look like.

But the Flow blockchain is basically a decentralized computer. You can program anything on top of it. And it's going to be interesting to see what the community of developers comes up with in the coming years.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, no question. Fascinating to see how this is sort of changing the game. But we would love to have you back on for any new developments. That's Roham Gharegozlou-- I hope I pronounced that right-- the CEO of Dapper Labs. It's good to have you on today.