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13 May 2020

Sergey Portnov: Emerging from a crisis stronger and faster

Speaking at PM:GO: In Touch with the Future, Parimatch CEO Sergey Portnov opened the floor to questions on topics ranging from why Parimatch and Conor McGregor are a great match, how to survive in a crisis, to predictions for the betting industry and sport in the wake of COVID-19. In typical fashion, Sergey spoke candidly to give the audience insights into some of the most pressing industry issues as well as his plans for Parimatch… The esports boom Parimatch is one of the few betting companies to have already shifted its focus to esports – and we are now looking to consolidate our position in the sector. Parimatch has a dedicated team with influential leaders responsible for our development strategy for esports. We will continue to seek out sponsorship deals in the esports sector and innovate our esports offering. The reality is that esports is here to stay and this is not just a temporary attempt to participate and jump on the hype bandwagon. Esports is in our DNA, it is our top priority. With sports fixtures cancelled across the world, many sports fans have turned to esports, and the popularity of esports will continue perhaps even with the return of sports matches. Looking to the near future, it might be that traditional sports matches are held without crowds of people. For the betting industry, it actually doesn’t matter. We just need the match to take place and to be broadcast. Looking further ahead, there will likely be plans drawn up to avoid having to stop all sport like this again, and there will be conditions agreed for how the sport industry can continue to operate if faced with another situation like the one we’re in now. At Parimatch, we are also considering creating our own sports, to increase the opportunities for betting and entertainment for our players. For example, we could broadcast penalties, involving just a player and a goalkeeper. During normal times, you don’t have these kinds of ideas – which is why a crisis can be an opportunity to innovate. Emerging from a crisis stronger and faster With sports fixtures cancelled around the world, betting companies are seeing the majority of their players fall away. The challenge is how to engage wider audiences with simulated sports – and this is a challenge shared by all bookmakers who have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Some operators will withstand this crisis better than others, because they have adapted their business model, by pivoting to online casinos or adding alternative sports – such as FIFA and table tennis. Although Parimatch has been affected, we are poised to be one of the structural winners to emerge from the crisis, as we are adapting and finding new solutions so that we remain one step ahead. In every sector, this is great time to optimize your business, identify weak spots in the company and fulfil goals that have been put off. For me personally, I feel comfortable during a crisis, maybe because I love fighting and it has given me the fighting spirit that you need to prosper during difficult conditions. My advice to those who struggle is to always stay calm to avoid being guided by emotions and making rash decisions under pressure. A person who can distinguish between truth and artificial pressure will be right in their decisions. Parimatch & The Notorious: A meeting of minds Our contract with UFC was a prerequisite for Conor as our brand ambassador – and Conor is picky, he doesn’t just collaborate with any brand for money. It was our connection to UFC that initially attracted him. But why did Parimatch choose Conor? Firstly, because there a few examples of celebrities who have really changed their industry. Conor is one of those few people – he has made the UFC popular globally, bringing MMA into the mainstream. In fact, Conor is the face of MMA, and has attracted millions of fans to UFC not just because of his fighting skills, but for what he does outside the ring. He can gather a crowd of people at a click of a finger – you could say he is a great magician! That kind of power and energy is what we wanted for our brand. In the ring: Beating the competition At Parimatch, we of course keep an eye on our competitors, but we mostly compete with ourselves – not on a personal level, but on a company wide scale. We are focused on meeting our own goals, and not trying to copy competitor products, no matter how great they are. We know our weaknesses as a business and we know how to fight them. For Parimatch, the main priority is solidifying our position as a technology company. Already 99.9% of our business operates online and 70% of it is mobile based. However, we want to become a leading technology business, and not just within the betting sector. We want to be a role model for related industries. We know this may take a few years, but we are confident that we will do it – and will become one of the very few betting companies to have made a major technology breakthrough.

By
Rickie has been writing for a variety of sports betting resources since 2013, pursuing that career since graduation. A recognized and demanded author of news, sports events analytics, and business ...
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12 May 2020

In discussion with Grigory Bakunov

At Parimatch’s first ever digital event, PM GO 5.0:In Touch with the Future, guest speakers shared insights and perspectives on the most pressing issues facing business and society. One of the industry-leading experts who offered their advice was Grigory Bakunov, a top specialist at one of Russia's largest tech companies. At PM GO 5.0, Grigory spoke about how the disruption of the COVID-19 outbreak could prove to be a great opportunity for evolution and innovation. There’s no denying that the coronavirus pandemic has led to a systematic crisis. Businesses, as well as people’s civil liberties, working routines and personal circumstances have all seen great upheaval. However, Grigory suggests that it’s not all bad news… Working from home is working well Now that the shift to remote working has become the norm, teams are more connected than ever, and valuable time spent commuting can now be channelled into more productive practices - which will only go to benefit the business and its employees. Now that face-to-face meetings and presentations are no longer permitted, we’re learning to harness the true value and potential of what can be done via video platforms, interactive online content and forums such as webinars, which are helping to keep us all connected. Embracing this change could lead to many positive creations and ideas – “I think the crisis will lead us to reimagine everything that we’ve been doing up to now.” Security is paramount With key tasks now being taken online, we’re viewing security of information very differently. We’re prioritising keeping our online assets safe and valuing customer privacy as we share data via the web. We’re building even stronger rapport with clients as we prove that we still have their best interests at the top of our agenda and are working to protect them in these unprecedented times. Big businesses are adapting Business models that we once knew are a thing of the past. Today, we’re seeing large corporations looking to collaborate with national governments to drive forward the changes that will benefit companies and consumers alike. For example, Google and Apple launched their first ever joint press release (published the same release on both of their websites) to announce their implementation of a contract tracing app, which uses symptom tracking data from individuals infected with COVID-19 and traces the chain of transmission via their phone contacts. These two giant companies have shown how working together is how we can slowly overcome such adversity. Will privacy soon become less of a priority? With health and safety at the very forefront of the public’s mind, are we moving into an era wherein confidentiality of data is not as highly valued? As companies work to make the transition from offline to online as seamless as possible, consent to use and retain customer details to optimise the service might need to be assumed, as opposed to asked for. The cyber space will dominate. “The more we are moving into online, the deeper we are moving into the virtual domain.” As self-proclaimed cyber sports fan, Grigory explained that “we’re going to go deeper” when it comes to online offering of sporting events. Cyber athletes will become our new sporting heroes and stadium viewing will be replaced by sofa set-ups as more events are moved online. Grigory is sure that this change won’t be temporary – “there’s a huge trend for cyber sports now and it won’t be over with the end of the virus.” So, the difficulties and uncertainty we’ve all been experiencing at home and in business could give way to a more stable ‘new normal’ as people adapt to what is now their normality. Stronger ties between corporations and governments, greater creativity and optimal online experience are key takeaways that we should celebrate and work to maintain as we continue to navigate the global crisis.

By
Rickie has been writing for a variety of sports betting resources since 2013, pursuing that career since graduation. A recognized and demanded author of news, sports events analytics, and business ...
Reading Time: 3 minutes
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07 May 2020

In discussion with Dmitriy Dubilet

Recently, Parimatch hosted is first ever digital event, PM GO 5.0: In Touch with the Future, which featured talks by trusted experts from the fields of business and technology. One of these guest speakers was Dmitriy Dubilet, a Fintech visionary, one of the co-founders of Monobank, and founder of the Smartass studio. Parimatch CEO Sergey Portnov interviewed Dubilet on a variety of topics – from the new social and economic reality facing the world in the wake of COVID-19, lessons on leadership during a crisis and creating a tech-oriented culture within an organisation. So, what were Dubilet’s key insights? It’s time to repay ‘technical debt’ In these six weeks the world has undergone significant change. For every single person there will be lessons learnt. For Dubilet, he sees this time as an opportunity to take stock, catch up and repay ‘technical debt’. Dubilet explained the concept of ‘technical debt’, which is not about financial debt. In the usual sense of the word, it results from the choice you make when you create a product. Namely, you take your time, progress it slowly and ensure it is future proof, or you adopt the ‘quick and dirty’ approach. When you take this latter approach, there is always a technical debt. Dubilet thinks this crisis is an excellent opportunity for both small companies, big companies and individuals to repay technical debt. And this doesn’t just apply to tech products, but a lot of things that people have postponed in both business and life generally. For example on a personal level, it could be finally ticking off the books on your reading list, or catching up on your sleep. It’s about the things you always wanted to do and never had the chance to. In some senses, it is possible to emerge from this stronger than ever. Leadership in a time of crisis It is crucial that leaders intensify their communication during a crisis. That means more frequent communication, through virtual meetings and calls. When it comes to internal communication, you have to communicate clearly and consistently, because this is a time of worry for many employees. Many of these worries are likely unwarranted, so it is good leadership to address these head on. Again, leaders should also think about their technical debt – and focus on areas of the business which may have been neglected. Adaptability in the COVID-19 environment Dubilet believes that we shouldn’t expect the world to change fundamentally in a few weeks, but when it comes to technology, there has already been a visible impact. For example, internet payments and internet consumption are on the up. A lot of people who rarely use the Internet, have now learnt how to use Zoom, order food online, and make online payments. So the tech market is expanding, with more people engaged with tech than ever, which presents an opportunity. Dubilet used his own sports club, Smartass, as an example. The company’s original plans have had to be put on hold due to the crisis, as they had wanted to launch a lot of offline locations. However, they have since launched online training, so that now, the number of people who train with Smartass through the internet is equal to the number of people who used to train offline. This means the business now has plans to expand their online offering internationally. This shows how businesses can adapt to the current environment, and seize new opportunities. The real definition of a tech company Dubilet also discussed what makes a company truly a tech company. For Dubilet, it’s hard to imagine where tech doesn’t matter for any business. Whether it’s agriculture or banking, IT is critical to any sector and any business. However, the main indicator is how tech-focused and tech-fluent the leadership of the company is. So, if you can talk in detail to a manager about the architecture and usability of systems, for example, it means that they’re not just declaring to be a tech company – they live and breath it. For Dubilet, a truly tech-oriented culture is where employees are encouraged to think independently, and where there is a flat, non-hierarchical structure. It is not just about obeying authority or following orders, rather everyone has to reason with each other and come to a mutual agreement. With no strict hierarchy, information flows easier, and the atmosphere is more conducive to innovation and the generation of new ideas. For Dubilet, that’s the tech spirit that every type of business needs. IT – Tool or business partner? According to Dubilet, IT should not be thought of as a separate entity – it is you yourself. When Dubilet worked for Privatbank, one of Ukraine’s biggest banks, the employees used to say ‘we’re not the bankers, we’re the IT guys’. In any industry it is possible to be an ‘IT guy’. The time has passed when IT is a separate business function. This doesn’t mean that you need to become a developer, but you need to establish a connection with developers, and deepen your understanding of IT to succeed.

By
Rickie has been writing for a variety of sports betting resources since 2013, pursuing that career since graduation. A recognized and demanded author of news, sports events analytics, and business ...
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Read more