There have been two books in the last decade that have significantly changed my life. The first, Bringing Down the House, told the story of my role in the MIT blackjack team. It later became a blockbuster movie called 21 and gave me notoriety I never would have imagined.
But after reading the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis, I realized my true mission in life -- to work in sports. I saw parallels between what the A's were doing in baseball and what we had done in the casinos -- this was my big chance to work in sports.
Through a mutual friend I was able to get a meeting with baseball super agent (now owner of the San Diego Padres) Jeff Moorad and his right-hand man Mike Kerns. To me this meeting was about me trying to sell my ideas about using advanced statistics in sports. But to them it was the opposite.
They had looked at the sports media landscape and saw a real lack of innovation. They had their own idea of innovation that they were recruiting me to be a part of. For me, the entire experience was surreal. Sitting in the offices where the movie Jerry Maguire was filmed, overlooking the Newport harbor, I stared at pictures of Moorad with all of my favorite baseball players -- his clients. The icing on the cake occurred an hour into our meeting when Billy Beane walked into the conference room and told me how much he believed in what Kerns and Moorad were doing. Needless to say I was sold and Citizen Sports was born.
Okay, maybe not quite yet. We first went through a learning experience called PROTRADE, a virtual sports stock market. Founded on many compelling but complicated concepts, PROTRADE languished in relative obscurity for a few years. We had a very dedicated, passionate user base and were featured in places like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, and ESPN. But simply put we weren't big enough.
So a little over two years ago, when Facebook opened their platform, we decided to launch a very simple sports application. It was a set of team communities based on the greatest rivalry in sports. The Red Sox Nation/Yankees Faithful app allowed Facebook users to show their loyalties on their profile page and cheer with like minded fans while brawling with fans of the enemy. The app was extremely simple in nature.
Within a month of launching the app we had close to a million new users and from that day forward the focus of our company changed. We eventually changed our name to Citizen Sports and have made a commitment to building innovative sports experiences for fans wherever they are spending their time. Our greatest successes have come in the fantasy sports space on Facebook, where we were the first to launch a full fantasy football game and now have over one million players and on the iPhone with Sportacular where we receive better ratings than a certain four-letter network.
We are committed to innovating in the world of sports media and are excited to be a part of Huffington Post's inaugural sports effort. We will use this space going forward to expose HuffPost readers to a different sports world than what they see in mainstream media and will tackle everything from fantasy sports, to sports wagering, to new trends in sports media. It's all fair game!