When DraftKings employee Ethan Haskell accidentally published private company information in October, the story was not only publicized on DFS industry sites, but in mainstream publications as well. In the last few months, the Boston-based company has been heavily criticized in the press and come under greater scrutiny by lawmakers. Now, DraftKings wants to tell its side of the story and not let the media run away with the narrative. Last week, the Boston Globe was given access to the company’s headquarters and gave readers an inside look at the site under siege.
One of the first things journalist Niel Swidey noticed was that very few of the 250 company employees resembled the stereo typical jocks with which some have come to relate DFS players. “The place is dominated by deeply analytical techies – more egghead than cheesehead,” Swidey wrote. “In the modern era of nerd chic, of course, the pocket protectors are gone and the taped hornrimmed glasses have been replaced with Burberry designer frames.”
Also in the office that day was Rev. Richard McGowan, who teaches statistics at Boston College and has long studied the economics of gambling, tobacco and alcohol. Company cofounder Jason Robins had also invited the priest, who recently described DraftKings as the “Uber of Gambling,” for a tour of the facilities.
“We don’t like to use the word ‘gambling’ to describe ourselves,” Robins said. “But otherwise, it’s an apt comparison.”
During the tour, Robins lamented the bad press which the company has received in recent months, and related his concern for his employees, “who came here thinking they were building the next Facebook.”
“To see us get beaten up in the press, it has been crushing,” Robins said. “Overnight, we went from people here being proud to tell anyone you work at DraftKings, to suddenly you tell people, and they go ‘Whoa.’ ”
When the New York Times report came out, Robins was in London. After the story exploded, he took the seven hour flight home to find the media camped outside of his office.
Haskell not blamed
When asked if the staff was angry that Haskell had accidentally published the sensitive data, cofounder Paul Liberman replied that they weren’t. “I wouldn’t stand for it if [they were],” he said. Haskell’s post “might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, but none of this was about Ethan,” he added qui est viagra.
Many DraftKings employees, in fact, are deeply committed to the company. Swidey described meeting the head of customer service, a 25-year-old who comes to work in a hoodie, sweatpants and moccasins due to the fact that he sometimes works seven days a week. Not that the job hasn’t yielded rewards: “I was able to buy a house at age 23,” the man said.
DraftKings founders were shocked and felt blindsided when New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman declared that DFS sites were somehow defrauding customers. Liberman took particular issue with the terms “scheme” and “fleece” in Schneiderman’s statement, as if he was “equating their tech company with some Nigerian prince email scam,” Swidey related.
Nonstop ads effective
On the topic of marketing, cofounder Matt Kalish was asked if he regretted the advertising blitz which DraftKings put on for the start of NFL season. “I don’t have any regrets about the results in terms of delivering new players,” Kalish said, referring to a spike in sign-ups. “That was great.”
For now, DraftKings is pinning its hopes that the company won’t be outright banned in a majority of states, but instead, can be regulated using sensible guidelines, such as those set forth by Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Maura Healey.
There is a “very high probability that we’re in a good spot,” Liberman said. “Does it mean we lose some states? Maybe. But we’ll figure out how to make things work.”