Crypto Crash opens the door to cyber sponsorships in 2023

If you turn to a couch mate during Monday’s ReliaQuest Bowl and ask, “Wait, what’s Reliaquest?” that’s exactly the point.

The cybersecurity company has been around for 15 years, but CEO and founder Brian Murphy said it’s already seeing increased exposure before Mississippi State takes on Illinois. And he’s currently far from the only computer gamer using sports to expand his brand. Fortinet took over sponsorship of what had been the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in 2021, while Rapid7 became the Boston Bruins’ first jersey patch partner in September. Acronis and Bitdefender are among the other companies spending on sports sponsorships.

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Since 1978, That of the Washington Post style section has published an updated list of what’s in and what’s out every new year’s eve. For 2023, “crypto” unsurprisingly landed in the “out” column with the price of Bitcoin down 65% in 2022 and the industry still reeling from the fallout from the FTX implosion. If a long crypto winter continues to cool marketing spend, amid expectations of economy-wide declines in advertising growth next year, B2B firms like security firms could step in to fill some of the gap.

“Security is not a discretionary expense,” Murphy said. “We’re not really changing anything dramatically.”

Tech giants like Google and Microsoft have had a wave of cybersecurity buyouts over the past two years, with Google’s $5.4 billion acquisition of Mandiant turning out to be Google’s second-largest buyout. always.

Reliaquest also grew, spending $160 million to expand its offering by acquiring Digital Shadows. Headquartered in Tampa, Reliaquest partners with the NBA and has deals with multiple teams across all sports. His work with Tampa’s 2021 Super Bowl host committee led to Murphy getting a call after Outback Steakhouse ended its naming rights deal with what had originally been the Hall of Fame Bowl.

“All said, it took probably about 18 minutes to make the decision,” Murphy said. The company collected the remaining four years of the contract.

While Reliaquest works with major airlines, banks and healthcare providers, it has also seen the unique challenges sports teams face. For professional clubs, cybersecurity risks extend from point-of-sale devices and customer data captured in stadiums, to protecting players’ personal information, to monitoring social media chatter around the brand.

NASCAR has even worked directly with the FBI to minimize the risk of a cyber breach. In March, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment director of cybersecurity and risk management Ekaterina Carayanis warned that only 1% of teams and leagues had adequate practices in place.

Ransomware attacks also continue to pose a threat, with Manchester United among the victims in recent years.

“I think people have gone a little numb, because they’re used to it happening so often,” Murphy said. “But if there are opportunities, there will be attacks and there are loads of opportunities in the sport.”

Ultimately, sports endorsements offer a unique opportunity to buy name recognition (something crypto startups have also taken advantage of) while getting in front of potential customers and even potential employees.

“I think kids will listen, they’ll pay more attention,” Murphy said. “I’m not going to dress up as a Cyber ​​Guy and walk around, right?”

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