Mojo – a sports betting startup that raised $100 million and included Alex Rodriguez in its financial backers – announced that it is cutting 20% of its staff.
People close to the company said the Mojo layoffs reflect a strategic restructuring from a consumer-facing sports betting exchange to a B2B trading technology platform for daily fantasy sports (DFS), according to a Business Insider report.
Mojo sports betting exchange, which featured a stock market-like approach to betting on sports, was only licensed in the New Jersey sports betting industry and has reportedly failed to generate significant customer growth since launching in 2022. According to people close to the matter, its pivot to fantasy sports comes as an attempt to find a more lucrative market.
A Mojo spokesperson would not comment on the strategy shift.
“Regretfully, we let go of about 20% of the company today,” the spokesperson told Business Insider. “It’s certainly a sad day for our company and we thank those talented employees for their many contributions.”
Mojo Sportsbook NJ seems to be winding down
Mojo first launched in New Jersey in 2022 as a regulated sportsbook licensed through Tropicana Atlantic City. Tropicana included Mojo in its revenue report starting in August 2022. For August, September, and October, Tropicana did around $3 million more in 2022 than in 2023.
Business Insider reported that a spokesperson for Mojo said the layoffs are due to the company’s inability to generate sustained user growth; the platform failed to attract consistent new users and activity and failed to expand its exchange beyond New Jersey.
In an attempt to find new paths for growth, the company launched Mojo Fantasy, a daily fantasy sports platform, in September 2023. Mojo Fantasy has gone live in 19 states and Washington DC.
Insiders report that this is the company’s new focus, and they may wind down the New Jersey-based sportsbook unit, making Mojo the latest of several sportsbook startups that have failed to succeed in the expensive landscape dominated by big players like DraftKings and FanDuel.
What exactly is Mojo?
Founded in 2020, Mojo is a sports betting startup that originally acted as an exchange for players to buy and sell shares of NFL players, with the tagline: “Bet on sports like stocks.” Players’ values changed based on on-field performance.
“We want the ordinary fan to invest in athletes like stocks, and we can do it now because the laws have changed,” CEO Vinit Bharara said in a Zoom interview reported in Forbes in March. “We can see that in the near future, all of the states will have some version of online gambling permitted so we can raise capital and build the best team.”
The company raised over $100 million from a variety of investors, including former New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, billionaire Marc Lore, the NFL Players Association and NYC-based investing firm Thrive Capital.
Lore became a billionaire after selling Diapers.com to Amazon and Jet.com to Walmart, and he co-owns the Minnesota Timberwolves with Rodriguez.
Last year, the company had nearly 100 full-time employees, according to a 2022 pitch deck.