Daniel Roberts

Daniel Roberts

Writer at Yahoo Finance. Covers sports business, tech, and everything in between.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON March 17, 2016

Discussion

Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
I cover the business of sports and the business of technology, and the intersection of the two. Lately I'm especially focused on daily fantasy sports (DraftKings, FanDuel), digital payments (bitcoin), media startups, and social media services. Before Yahoo, I was at Fortune for 5+ years. There, I helped run the 40 Under 40 franchise. I've also written for Sports Illustrated, WSJ, The Guardian, Vice, Deadspin, NPR, Daily Beast, Salon. Hi.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Hey, Daniel! We're seeing an increasing number of companies building tech-enabled equipment and products to improve performance and train. As an example, just a few days ago, @justinkan posted Hykso, a smart sensor for boxers. What do sports look like in a decade?
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@rrhoover @justinkan Data, data, data, data. analytics. sensors on uniforms not just for tracking info about the athletes, but for showing graphics and information on movement and speed for the viewers at home. tech-enabled stadiums and ballparks. far more streaming options for live sports at home, for a price.
Russell Crispin
Russell Crispin@russellcrispin · student
@readdanwrite @rrhoover I agree. I saw @hbarnes write about how the Warriors wear sensors to track their heart rate as well as movements to improve their training. Yahoo streamed an NFL game this year right? Do you expect to see more of those type of events in the future?
Samee Zahid
Samee Zahid@samee_24 · Android Developer, Grinnell Appdev
What's your take on services that are willing to intelligently condense news updates, and then allow them to be interfaced with bots within messaging platforms (Facebook messenger, WeChat, Slack maybe too?). QZ came out with something similar recently: http://qz.com/613700/its-here-qu...
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@samee_24 I adore them. I think the Qz news app is fantastic-- though a drawback is you can't load it up and then go underground. what I mean is, with other news apps, I can open it right before I enter the subway, and load it, and then access all the news stories on the train when I have no service. with the Qz app you need wifi/signal so that it keeps talking to you. but I love the concept and think the use of emojis on it is cute and clever. The "magic commands" on Slack and Peach are similar, and also super appealing.
Jeff Umbro
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
What are your thoughts on Barstool Sports in today's media landscape, especially considering that they were acquired by Chernin Digital.
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@jeffumbro I appreciate this question-- love talking about digital news properties. For most people I know, Barstool amounts to a guilty pleasure. Many, many people I know read it, but they aren't likely to publicly share a Barstool story on their social media platforms. (Instead, they'll text or email the link privately.) The site occasionally breaks news, so in many ways it's legit, but the high volume of posts that are offensive/bawdy/raunchy obviously make it hard for mainstream media and people of a certain demographic to take the site seriously. I will say that Barstool has been extremely effective on social media-- the Snapchat accounts, the Instagram pages (especially barstoolu, which is hilarious) are great-- but again, they are guilty pleasures. It's also such a regional thing-- every single person (of a certain age) that I know in Boston, where I grew up, considers Barstool a must-visit every day. Journalists in New York? Far from it. I think Chernin saw future value here and is betting it will grow, but it also didn't invest without knowing the site in and out and understanding it has a very obvious niche and demographic and isn't likely to get far beyond that demographic (which is fine!). The niche is: gossipy sports stuff, hot girls, drunk college student fail videos... fun, but not exactly the next Vice, Vox, Buzzfeed, HuffPost, SB Nation, etc. As I understand it the site needed Chernin's money in order to invest in digital talent and other new hires it has needed for years-- so, great deal for them. Here's a good deep story on the sale by my former Fortune colleague Dan Primack (who also did a ProductHunt live chat recently!): http://fortune.com/2016/01/07/th...
Jeff Umbro
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
@readdanwrite Thanks, Daniel. I know Barstool well, read that article, and asked Dan a question when he did a LIVE. I think you're basically spot on, but I also think everyone is counting them out way too early. This is a company literally raised from nothing in the last decade. Imagine what can happen (for better or worse) in the next decade.
Diane Florescu
Diane Florescu@dianeflorescu · Marketing Assistant @ConnectiD Ltd
Hi Daniel, thanks for doing this AMA. What would be your piece of advice for a new start-up to get press coverage before a big tech conference e.g. TNW, TechCrunch? What could possibly persuade you to write about a tech startup ?
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@dianeflorescu Good, important question. I have much more P.R. advice than can fit here-- I used to speak to PR agencies more often but have gotten busier, but enjoyed doing that-- but overall I'd say you need to tailor a pitch to the publication you're pitching. It is very, painfully obvious to us when we get a pitch that was sent out to a big net, as a mass email. It doesn't take long to do the 5 minutes of homework on a reporter or the publication and tailor the pitch. For ex, the reason Yahoo Finance would write about a tiny startup is if it somehow involves (partnership, exec hire, investment from) a much bigger, publicly traded company. Tech sites like Engadget, Gizmodo, Mashable might be easier in that they'll write if the tech is cool or has some cool implications. It also may help if the startup is in some way "taking on" a much bigger incumbent-- for ex, I'm not likely to write a story on some tiny flower-delivery app (to pick something totally random) but if it's somehow an Uber competitor, that may be more interesting. think about what clicks for news sites, play the game a little bit.
Diane Florescu
Diane Florescu@dianeflorescu · Marketing Assistant @ConnectiD Ltd
@readdanwrite Thanks for the tips, Daniel. Great answer, it makes you put your thinking caps on!
Emily Hodgins
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
During your career to date, what's been the most creative way someone has pitched you their story to cover?
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@ems_hodge I don't love "creative" pitches and would warn companies away from doing them. I know what you're referring to-- all the time we get packages with schwag, elaborate mailings that contain a USB stick or a disc you have to watch. it all gets thrown away or ignored. A good simple direct brief email is pretty damn good.
Emily Hodgins
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@readdanwrite Do you see a lot of value in PR firms for startups, or do you recommend in house - or does it not really matter to you that much in your experience?
Kia K.
Kia K.@imkialikethecar · words...
Hi DANIEL. So I have 3 questions: 1) how much do you miss me? 2) can i say "lol" without you getting annoyed? 3) biggest takeaway from the DFS drama?
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@imkialikethecar HI KIA. I miss the crew at Fortune all the time. love love my new coworkers, but also loved my old ones. trust me that I am watching what Fortune does closely, from afar (not that far). and I don't really have a fellow bitcoin-dork at Yahoo, so you are missed. I don't feel any pull to be in SF, though, I'll tell you that. also: "lol" must be pronounced "lawl" not as separate letters like el-oh-el. ugh, lol, anyway, I gtg, brb, ttyl.
BEWARE: Ed Zitron
BEWARE: Ed Zitron@edzitron · CEO, EZPR
So, there're sports startups all over the place. What kinds are actually going to survive/grow? What ones haven't happened yet that you want to see? More importantly, how do you feel about Jared Lorenzen?
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@edzitron HI ED. Yeah, the sports app space has exploded just like online dating apps. But not all will survive, or many. In fact I'd venture to say that we now see more press coverage than ever before of apps that haven't yet proven they will survive. many of them-- both the sports and dating apps-- will sell, many will fold. (see here, ahem: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/on...). In sports tech, I think new entrants MUST have some exclusive, unique, original offering/function that others don't have. I get pitched on so many apps that are identical. What's different? If something has a brand new idea, it will work. Take Peach-- fun, I like it, but hard to compete with the incumbents, and even though it has a great style and some cool functionalities, it's still not different ENOUGH from its main competitors to last. I liked the IDEA of Tiki Barber's app Thuzio, which, when it first launched, was for reaching athletes and requesting them for a party or event, for a fee. smart. cuts out the agent/middle man/booking agency. But now they've pivoted and it's a talent agency type thing, boring. So, what lasts? Something like a Snapchat for sports. I have to say, I love Snapchat's live stories from NFL games. clever, compelling.
Fanamana
Fanamana@fanamana · Fanamana
@readdanwrite @edzitron You forgot about Lorenzen! Hehe
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@readDanwrite thanks so much for joining us today, big fan of your writing, I would love to hear how you see the intersection of sport and technology playing out? Will the likes of @LiveAthos be the future of sport and personal health data? Would love to hear your thoughts and always welcome for a special guest spot on @twentyminutevc
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@harrystebbings @liveathos @twentyminutevc Hey thanks. I see a number of big trends in sports tech playing out in the next 2 years: health and fitness tracking (Fitbit, Apple Watch, Nike+, everyone is doing this and trying to innovate better and faster than the others); wearables (similar thing, but they're not only for fitness); mobile tech INSIDE STADIUMS to make the at-stadium experience better (as the experience of watching a game at home gets so good thanks to TV, streaming, second- and third-screen experience, etc., it's harder and harder to get people to spend $ to go to a game in person, so ballparks, football stadiums, etc., are all stepping it up) and, finally: a legalized form of sports betting is on the way, and mobile tech will be key in that space. more on this in other responses, because I can see that many of the Qs here are about daily fantasy etc. I also am fascinated by the way athletes are using social media. Kobe Bryant took to Derek Jeter's web site (or, his agent did, at least) to announce his retirement. that's nuts.
Martin Skakala
Martin Skakala@mskakala · Founder & CEO WakesApp.com
Hi Daniel, since you're also writing about the tech & I am non tech founder - I was wondering if you can recommend a great resource or book that helped you to understand the development & tech. Thanks Daniel, Martin
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@mskakala I never exactly picked up any books as a way to learn about tech-- I learned on the job and as I met more and more people for interviews, and from managing our 40 Under 40. that being said, I know The Innovator's Dilemma is considered a Bible for many tech folks (Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, for the first few years of Yelp's history, distributed a copy to every new employee), and I personally enjoyed Zero to One by Peter Thiel, and Ben Horowitz's new book. I also love Michael Lewis and think THE NEW NEW THING is one of his best books, and is underrated.
Fanamana
Fanamana@fanamana · Fanamana
Hey Daniel, as DFS becomes more regulated state-by-state, do you think DraftKings and FanDuel will be content to watch state legislators price out the little guys like us with the high licensing fees like the one that was just implemented by Virginia?
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@fanamana This is the crux of things right now for the states expressly legalizing DFS: are they going to screw out the little guy? DraftKings and FanDuel get all the press, but there are so many smaller DFS platforms running good businesses-- they can't afford a steep annual fee in every state. So the Virginia ruling is, I'd say, not as encouraging to the DFS community as some are making it out to be. if there ends up being a high cost of doing business in states where DFS is legal, it will cull the market to just three or four big players.
Desmond
Desmond@desmonddantzler · Working on Fanbox.
@readdanwrite @fanamana Not only do I believe that Fanduel and Draftkings are content with Virginia's recent bill (which they publicly supported), I will go as far to say they might be advocating for similar states to do the same. FD and DK can afford those licensing fees, the smaller companies cannot. Which leaves Yahoo as the 'threat' to their market share. It's a good business maneuver, just bad for other industry participants.
Fanamana
Fanamana@fanamana · Fanamana
@desmonddantzler @readdanwrite Wonder if they consider it their ROI for fighting the legal battle.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What's the big picture of tech + sports? Do you think there will be an app that will 'hit the bigtime' in a big way like many we use everyday?
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@bentossell I do. I believe something will cleverly blend Twitter, Instagram, and a strong live-score-update app like Bleacher Report's Team Stream (which is close) but will advance things a bit more and become the one go-to for every sports fan to monitor during a game from home.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What are you most excited about right now?
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@bentossell watching Yahoo Finance continue to build, hire great talent like our new managing editor Sam Ro, run great original stories every day, and eventually become a go-to destination for people not just looking for stock charts, but looking for great, well-reported business stories. it's happening.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
what are your favourite questions to ask founders?
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@bentossell I ask them what the misconceptions are about their company and what it does-- what do they think media gets wrong/writes unfairly about, and why. I also always ask who their main competitors are, but very very often founders try to say "no one is doing what we're doing, really" (bullshit) or they say, "I think our biggest competitor is us-- we just need to keep innovating, keep bla bla bla." I try to force tech people to get real, when I can.
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What do you see as the next "disruption" coming to sports? I would say the last one was DFS.
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@andrewett Live, in-bar or at-home, real-time sports hubs that blend conversation, maybe a game element, fantasy, and pull in tweets and photos from everywhere. All in one bucket. We are seeing many new apps launch at once that offer this-- unclear which one will be the winner.
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
@readdanwrite Can you name some specific examples so I can check them out?
Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee@dleesta · Product Manager
@andrewett @readdanwrite Nothing out in market right now. Essentially Snapchat stories + ESPN Gamecast + Twitch
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Who is the "LeBron James" of the business of sports coverage? Perhaps @darrenrovell?
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@andrewett I'm not going to comment on what Darren does. Instead, let me shout out some sports business reporters that are total aces and yet, I'd argue, are sort of under-rated (I hope they won't take that the wrong way, I'm saying they're the true hustlers who always get the story but maybe aren't the biggest names that the average reader knows): John Ourand at SBJ, Rich Sandomir at NYT, Eric Fisher at SBJ, Richard Deitsch at SI.
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
@readdanwrite Following all. Thanks!
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What is your morning routine? More specifically, which news outlets MUST you check every AM?
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@andrewett ah, ye olde "media digest" question. I'd hate to say I find most things from Twitter, but I find most things from Twitter. the very first app I open in the morning, while still in bed, is Twitter. I scroll for only 5 minutes or so. When I see someone share a story I want to return to, I tap 'favorite' (I use it as a bookmark, and didn't like that they changed it to a heart) and later, at the office, I open up those tweets. on the subway, I read the NYT on iPad, and the Yahoo Digest news app, which gives you 8 big stories in the morning and then 8 in the evening, distilled. I love the Qz news app too. but there aren't many sites left where I go to their homepage every day to check-- really only Deadspin, which may sound ridiculous, and BBC.
Kia K.
Kia K.@imkialikethecar · words...
@readdanwrite they make you include the Yahoo app, don't they??
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@imkialikethecar believe it or not I love the Yahoo Digest app, not just pumping our thing! The Yahoo Mail app is surprisingly great too. good god, I still have nightmares about having to use OUTLOOK REMOTE ACCESS at Fortune, that was inexcusable.
Emily Hodgins
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What has been the most surprising thing you've ever written about?
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@ems_hodge Most surprising to me, or others? I have loved quirky stories where I got to profile on fascinating individual and spend time with them in person, like: Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI, now a high-profile, extremely controversial private investigator; Leigh Steinberg, legendary sports agent and part of the inspiration for Jerry Maguire; Carlos Brito, the CEO of AB-InBev, the world's largest beer behemoth, got to spend time with him in Sao Paulo. really fun assignments and also surprising choices for Fortune mag profiles. rewarding work.
Emily Hodgins
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@readdanwrite wow amazing people you've got to meet! Has there been anytime when profiling someone, or covering a story, when something unexpected came up? A twist you didn't see coming - or were completed shocked by?
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@ems_hodge Without saying who it was, a subject of a story I wrote did not like the story-- that of course happens all the time and that's fine, it's not my job to have people like the story, it's my job to get the facts right and tell a good narrative. This person had no factual complaints, but thought the story was unfair and unflattering. The reason I even cared was because it really, truly, was not unfair and everyone I knew who read the story thought it was super humane and respectful and balanced and didn't trash the person. He persisted. He forwarded me an email someone sent him where they said the story was mean. In the end, I said I disagreed and wasn't going to keep arguing about it-- a couple years had to pass, but now we are in touch again and he has never mentioned it again. I like to think he knows he was wrong and overreacted.
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Yahoo appears to be struggling. What do you love the most about working for Yahoo?
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@andrewett The company has struggled in some ways, but not the media side-- Finance and Sports, the two verticals I write for, get mega traffic and are profitable. You may have heard Marissa Mayer say, a month ago when they announced layoffs, that they will be focusing on Sports, News, Finance and Lifestyle. I love working here and frankly, internally, the atmosphere is not at all what you'd think when you read salacious, obsessive tech coverage of the company. Be careful what you believe.
Emily Hodgins
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What's the future of journalism look like?
Daniel Roberts
Daniel Roberts@readdanwrite · Journalist
@ems_hodge Oh boy. Well, paywalls at most sites have not worked (save for NYT, New Yorker). But we MUST find a way to get readers to change their behavior and understand that good journalism has a cost. I actually see some potential for bitcoin, or a different digital currency, or plain old USD but conveyed digitally and instantly, Venmo-like, to play a role in paying journalists more for their work. News outlets have to figure out something other than plastering their web sites with shitty, obtrusive ads. There has to be another way. I think NEWS will always thrive, and that magazines aren't going away, but I do think PRINT is close to dead-- not for books, but for magazines and papers. soon, everything will be consumed on a screen. and that's okay.