The Drone Racing League is leaning into today’s crypto craze, signing its largest partnership deal yet with blockchain platform Algorand. A source familiar with the deal said Algorand agreed to pay $100 million over five years for a tie-up that stretches from title sponsorship to metaverse gaming.
Algorand, a blockchain platform established in 2017 by MIT professor Silvio Micali, supports a range of crypto activities as an alternative to other options like Ethereum. As Ethereum’s fees have risen with its popularity this year, competitors have gotten more attention. Algorand’s $ALGO coin recently reached a high price of $2.42 and had a market cap of over $11 billion Monday. The platform has been used to build a national digital currency in the Marshall Islands and recently was chosen to host Colombia’s virtual COVID-19 passport database.
Now, Algorand will be the title sponsor of the DRL’s World Championship Circuit. Excel Sports Management helped negotiate the deal. The DRL season starts Sept. 29, and DRL president Rachel Jacobson said the league plans to launch blockchain experiences around ticketing and collectibles starting this year.
“Every day you wake up and there is another jersey patch deal or another NFT fan token coming out,” Jacobson said in an interview. “This is really about building something together that only our sport can deliver.”
The DRL will also host hackathon events along with Algorand. Down the road, the DRL has its eyes on a virtual game built using Algorand’s blockchain. “We want to deliver this unique sports experience in the metaverse,” Jacobson said.
In a statement, Algorand CEO Steve Kokinos said, “DRL will leverage Algorand’s technology to create immersive in-game experiences and introduce millions of technology enthusiasts to the possibilities that blockchain can bring to racing and to sports as we know them today.”
Last month, the league debuted its first 5G-enabled racing drone, which it hopes will improve the race viewing experience for both pilots and fans. Earlier this year, the DRL, which was founded in 2015, landed its first sports betting partner, as it aims to build a sports property of the future.
(This article has been corrected to reflect that the DRL season begins Sept. 29.)