Optima’s Jacob Lopez and Sportradar’s Carsten Koerl: Combining to deliver the strongest one-stop-shop for sports betting

We learned late last week that Sportradar, a global leader in delivering sports data and content, had completed the acquisition of sports betting and gaming omnichannel platform provider Optima in a deal effective immediately.

Just a few days on we caught up with Optima CEO Jacob Lopez and Sportradar CEO Carsten Koerl for their reaction to forming this new one-stop-shop data, betting, trading, marketing and player management platform business.

SBC: Jacob, how excited are you by the prospect of this full-service betting solution?

JL: I think the combination of Sportradar products and services with the OptimaMGS platform not only cover all services an operator needs today, but are those that a leading operator will definitely demand from a top quality turnkey sports betting and gaming solution. 

Our products are rich in functionalities and are designed to perform, to scale and to be flexible. The combined forces of Sportradar and Optima are no doubt creating the organisation with the strongest potential in the worldwide B2B market today.

I doubt there could be anyone in my position that would not be very excited. I’m really lucky to be able to push forward this vision.

SBC: And Carsten, how pleased are you to announce this deal? 

CK: We are very pleased to have announced this deal. Optima is a market leader in delivering high quality betting and igaming services around the world renowned for utilising the best technology to provide clients with advanced and flexible gaming platforms. 

SBC News Optima’s Jacob Lopez and Sportradar’s Carsten Koerl: Combining to deliver the strongest one-stop-shop for sports betting
Carsten Koerl, Sportradar

This company was highly attractive to Sportradar as it would help us achieve a 360 product portfolio offering a full sportsbook solution for clients. 

The acquisition is an integral part of our future growth. The platform will extend our current risk management and trading solution, Managed Trading Services (MTS), to effectively make us a complete betting, trading and platform business. 

SBC: Having started out with just 12 colleagues in 2012, was a big merger like this always part of your vision for Optima?

JL: Actually, a merger was never part of it. The vision of Optima is not different before and after the merge, and that’s the great thing and why this merger has been positively evaluated by me personally. While we have been approached by tens of organisations in the last couple of years, the one and only merging process we have started has been the one with Sportradar. 

SBC News Optima’s Jacob Lopez and Sportradar’s Carsten Koerl: Combining to deliver the strongest one-stop-shop for sports betting
Jacob Lopez, Optima

Opposite to what rumours recently said in the news, we had never started another process. At Optima we were not looking for investment, we were not raising funds.

The idea of combining with Sportradar was attractive because it was the natural step for Optima; it was either that or we would have gone for marketing, trading and data services ourselves. 

While we had all the technology and tools ourselves to run a successful marketing, managed trading services and data distribution B2B business, they were different businesses on their own.

They aren’t businesses that just require technology, they require a lot of excellence and talent on top of an already excellent technology. It would have taken us considerable time to commercialise a service at the level of quality we always look to offer to our operators.

A sensible option was to merge with the leading trading and data services supplier in the market to create the best combination possible with the best platform – OptimaMGS – and the best marketing, trading and data services in the market from Sportradar.

SBC: And what about for Sportradar, Carsten. Did you set out to find a company to complete the betting and gaming value chain? Or did the right opportunity just come about with Optima?

CK: We undertook a comprehensive review of the market and following that selected Optima as the platform provider that best met our goals. We identified Optima as having the best technology, backed by a great management team and high-skilled staff. They also share our vision on the future evolution and likely needs of the global betting and gaming market. 

As such, we believe they were the best option to help us provide the entire value chain and continue to add to our future growth strategy with an advanced platform that matches our approach to quality and customisation. 

SBC: Going back to you, Jacob. How will your existing clients benefit from the deal?

JL: Optima clients first have guarantee that Optima will continue delivering the quality of products, flexibility and great support we have done until this moment. There is no difference regarding the products that a client of Optima was getting from us yesterday to the ones that they will get tomorrow. 

Obviously, there will be new products as a result of the combination of the group’s forces, products that will certainly get clients using the Sportradar OptimaMGS platform, putting considerable distance between their rivals in terms of technology and product available to them for their business to be top in every market.

SBC: Carsten, you said that the acquisition is an integral part of your future growth. How much stronger is the Sportradar position in the US as a full one stop shop betting services provider?

CK: One of the key reasons behind our decision to acquire a platform is because of the ongoing emergence of legalised betting markets, such as in the US. In line with some of our core objectives, we believe this will lead to a more transparent and nascent sports and betting industry worldwide and, ultimately, we want to help our sports and betting clients to reap the benefits. 

With almost two decades within the industry, we understand the uniqueness of each global market and why having a one-stop-shop sports betting provider is so expedient for clients. In the US in particular, the platform gives us a greater degree of control for if and when licensing opportunities arise in newly regulated states. 

With it we are better able to meet local requirements, which is crucial in the various markets across the US and the rest of the world. 

SBC: Jacob, with the support of Sportradar what are your key targets for 2020?

JL: Sportradar agreed with the targets that Optima had already set for 2020. Our key objectives are first guaranteeing that integration of Optima into the Sportradar group is successfully done, and that it has zero impact on our current and recently engaged clients, which for me personally has been a key point in the agreement with Sportradar.

SBC: And finally, the same question to you Carsten. With Optima on board, what are your key targets for 2020?

CK: A detailed integration plan has been developed in partnership with Optima and together we will take this forward across the next year. The acquisition is an integral part of Sportradar’s future growth across the world, including the US, Latin America and Asia.

Bookmakers and platforms in these different regions have various requirements and we want to be able to offer a portfolio of products and services that can fully serve the needs of the global betting and gaming market. 

As we have always done, we will continue to develop our solutions based on the new platform to ensure we remain at the forefront in terms of client needs, utilising our combination of global expertise and cutting-edge innovation.

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