Much of Goldstein’s professional life revolves around naming deals. (I met him at the Lexus Club, in Crypto.com Arena, adjacent to Xbox Plaza). The deal he helped negotiate with Crypto.com included $700 million over 20 years, but Goldstein told me the company was far from the highest bidder. “Other companies offered us more money,” he said. “Interestingly, I’ve had companies offer us more money since we announced the deal, including a buyout.”
Goldstein rejected that purchase. “You want a partner that is really thoughtful over the course of the next two decades, not just looking for the big knock-on effect in the first year,” he said. I pointed out that Crypto.com It was not yet six years old, and for two of them the company had had a different name. “They were really smart and cunning. It was the most natural and organic conversation we had,” Goldstein said. “However, I can tell you right now that we would not have done the deal like Monaco. We wouldn’t be at the Monaco Arena right now.” (After the collapse, Goldstein remained committed to him. “This is a 20-year deal, we have a long-term view of the sport,” he said.)
How did Marszalek do it? Not through stage presence, of course. During our calls, he spoke quietly and sometimes when I asked him a question, he would look at the ground for a long time before answering. At one point in our conversation, he stared at the ground for so long that I thought his Zoom was failing. (“I apologize for not warning you about the long pauses,” Matt David told me later. “I’m usually pretty good at warning people about it.”) But when Marszalek finally answered, the response was always diplomatic, even bulletproof, as if he had simply been polishing it in his mind.
“There has been a lot of grit, tenacity and creativity,” said the general director of Crypto.com about his epic string of deals marketing, “but the ability to listen has also been very important.” Marszalek told me that he likes to put himself in the other person’s shoes and understand their likely mental resistance points, and then work, point by point, to address them. “Listen carefully: What is the concern on the other side of the table?”
“Empathy,” I said. “You’re talking about empathy.”
“Empathy is very important,” Marszalek said.
Wanting to see things from the sharks’ perspective, I wrote to Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and prominent crypto-whale. Cuban made his fortune by selling overpriced Broadcast.com to Yahoo in 1999, then famously traded options on his Yahoo stock as a hedge for his gain. It was the deal of a lifetime for him, especially after the bubble burst, but he doesn’t see a parallel with the cryptocurrencies. “Most applications like Crypto.com they are centralized exchanges that are really profitable,” Cuban said in an email. He argued that sports stadium operators will accept below-market rates for sponsorship “because they see that these companies can grow considerably, which means there are future opportunities. The possibility of a fall was always present, as Cuban knew better than anyone, but for now, he remains optimistic. Last October, the Mavericks signed a sponsorship agreement with the trading platform of cryptocurrencies Voyager, and in January, Cuban told Jon Stewart that 80 percent of his new investments outside of Shark Tank are in the space of cryptocurrencies.