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Volume 22 No. 35
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Forty Under 40: Matt Kalish

Photo: draftkings

Chief Revenue Officer and Co-Founder, DraftKings

Age: 37

Born: Lowell, Mass.

Education: Columbia University, B.S., computer science and economics; Boston College, MBA

Family: Children, Summer (9) and Savannah (6) 

What gets you fired up? Having a lot of investment in something that I can control. A startup was so different from corporate America for me. You control whether you make or break that opportunity.

You wish you knew 10 years ago: To go ahead and do something entrepreneurial. There’s not as much to lose as you think there is and so much to gain.

Guilty pleasure: Anything carbs related. Chips, pasta, breads.

Could not go a day without? My cellphone.

Esports or video games you play: “Command and Conquer: Rivals,” “Lineage II.” 

Gamer name: Runner91.

Person in the industry you’d most like to meet: Ted Leonsis.

Ideal day off: Any day where I have nothing planned and can sit down and decompress and spend time with my kids is a pretty good day.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a co-founder of the daily fantasy site that has become the leading online sports betting destination in New Jersey invites friends to wager on seemingly random, everyday outcomes, like the last digit in the license plate of the next car they see.

DraftKings co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer Matt Kalish says he likes to have “skin in the game,” a predilection that was a core premise behind the launch of the now popular DFS site in 2012. Based on what he knew about DraftKings’ players, Kalish was confident that they would migrate to sports betting once the site was able to offer it.

“When you looked at other things [DFS players do], one of the strongest was sports betting,” said Kalish, who met co-founder Jason Robins while working in business analytics at Capital One. “So, even before the Supreme Court ruled, we were working on the product. When it happened, we were pretty well-positioned.”

When New Jersey regulators cleared the way for online sports betting in August, DraftKings was the first to launch. That jump on the market provided the site an advantage that it thus far has sustained, generating $6.9 million in online sports wagering revenue in January, giving it about two-thirds of the market for the month.

Last month, DraftKings announced a deal with Caesars Entertainment that will allow it to expand into the 13 states in which Caesars operates casinos, should those states clear the way for sports betting.