Happy New Year from Ian Cummings and the rest of the team at Third Time!
As the kids would say, last year was a movie.
Sure, at times, that movie was a disaster movie starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson hanging from a helicopter, hovering just above a tsunami while attempting to save people from burning skyscrapers.
Thankfully, our story of 2023 had a happy ending amidst a seemingly endless stream of challenges and obstacles. It sure seemed like it might end up a tragedy in the middle!
As we bid farewell to 2023 and usher in an exciting new year filled with endless possibilities, now is a great time to pause, reflect, celebrate an incredible year, and look forward to what’s next.
I am beyond pumped for what’s to come in 2024, a year primed to be the time Photo Finish™ LIVE goes from a Web3 success story to a household name in gaming.
2023: The Year That Was
Before getting into our plans for 2024, let’s look back at some of the most pivotal moments from the year.
- Real money beta testing begins in earnest
- Third Time announces historic multi-year agreement with Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby
- The end of April marks the transition from beta to live launch
- $CROWN token officially launches alongside the game
- Photo Finish™ LIVE showcased for three straight days in the infield of the 149th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
- NBC Sports utilizes Photo Finish™ for the fifth consecutive year to provide a Kentucky Derby 3D simulation airing live during the Derby telecast.
- Closure of $2 million Seed-Plus round, led by Sfermion
- Total funding secured reaches $5.5 million.
- Over $11 million in combined in-game marketplace horse sales
- $1.3 million paid out in track earnings to track owners.
- Over $8 million collected in race entry fees
- Over $3 million in stud fees paid
- Nearly 50 million $CROWN tokens were staked over the platform’s lifetime.
- Over 26 million $CROWN stimmies paid via race entry gifts.
A Look Ahead: 2024 Targets
We all know we exist in an ever-demanding what have you done for me lately world.
So, I’d love to walk you through what’s planned in the early stages 2024. These are just a few of many initiatives we’ve identified as necessary to help achieve game stability, user confidence, and, of course, massive mainstream growth that aligns with the growth of the Photo Finish™ LIVE horse population.
We’re working on much more than this, but we wanted to glimpse a few items that are already near being checked off our 2024 list of accomplishments or those for which we’ve provided a headstart.
If the ownership of digital assets is going to be hyped as the future of gaming, then just as important is locking down the security of those assets.
Our community members and ourselves are under a constant barrage of attacks of varying levels of sophistication, so we continue to focus and spend heavily on improving security around all things Photo Finish™ related in the coming year.
With that in mind, we got a jump start on our New Year resolution starting months ago. So far, here’s what we’ve begun and what is planned for the near term:
- As announced a few weeks ago, we recently underwent an external security audit, including an in-depth review of all Photo Finish™source code via HackerOne. Good news – no significant issues were found.
- While nothing significant was found, HackerOne did make some excellent patch suggestions, many of which have already been released.
- Once we check all the boxes on this secondary checklist, our next program will feature a full pentest.
- Once that’s completed, we will utilize their fully vetted ethical white hat hacker community to begin a private bug bounty program.
- Our SOC2 compliance audit is underway; we expect it to be finalized in late Q1 / early Q2.
Additional Discord security measures are also being implemented to help keep our community safe from scammers and hackers. As a reminder – most of these shenanigans go down in the DMs. We recommend turning DMs off altogether to avoid any issues.
When in doubt, contact Community Manager Bryce or a team member to ensure anything you’re unsure about interacting with is on the up and up.
I’ve felt the confusion and puzzled faces when I sometimes refer to Photo Finish™ LIVE as currently in a “soft launch” or, basically, still in “Beta” — I should probably clarify!
I think the product itself is clearly extremely deep, mature, and strong. But, the compliance side is in its infancy.
This becomes obvious when you look at our geo-locking strategy, narrowing the availability to select US states only that allow the game as a skill-based game, with wagering/picks still extremely early in their lifespan.
I chose from the beginning to follow a blueprint that I saw from the inside of FanDuel (that many others followed as well), which is to utilize geo-locking in a small subset to try to achieve product-market fit, then once proven out, acquire license to expand legally into new territories.
Though some get scared off at dealing with the regulation and paperwork of licensing in new territories and locales, I see this as a constant stream of new opportunities. A tailored marketing campaign can align with every single new territory unlocked, and we have [checks notes] basically the ENTIRE WORLD to move into!
Growth: Okay, Let’s Ride
“Thousands of users isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? More users.” – Sean Parker, probably.
If the theme of 2023 were opening the racetrack, 2024 would be about selling out the tickets. For our purposes, that means building an all-star marketing and business development team AND integrating the strength of our community to match the strength of our development chops and experience.
Not long ago, we introduced everyone to Third Time Games SE Asia Business Development Lead Ryan Duguid. In the coming days, you’ll get a similar meet-and-greet with a handful of others we’ve recently empowered to spread the good word of PFL worldwide.
- Travis Bjorklund: Our new growth marketing lead, former Google, Rackspace – an industry expert at running user acquisition campaigns
- Curt Parker: Known as Tex in the Discord, Curt’s ties and passion for the racing industry are unmatched. This guy already landed meetings with the most prestigious races in the world before he even had a company email login.
- AJ McDonald: AJ is a long-time crypto horse racing enthusiast, passionate sales already working deal flow with new investors and meetings with Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and others.
In addition to our growth team hires, we will be providing more details of a community bounty program that will incentivize and empower our community themselves to weaponize their contacts (and, if you’re Roaring Hammy, Twitter fingers) in the name of bringing Photo Finish™ LIVE further into the mainstream.
We have many other interesting things in progress that we can get into over the coming months. The catalysts are rich as we steam towards the historic 150th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby.
Centralized exchange listings, Coinbase integration, mobile app development, decentralized wagering pools, on-chain activity, syndication tools…the list goes on and on.
Cheers, Happy New Year, and thanks for joining us on the ride!