Portland Trail Blazers ink NBA jersey sponsorship deal with Seattle crypto startup StormX – GeekWire


The StormX jersey patch. (Photo courtesy of Bruce Ely / Trail Blazers)

Seattle cryptocurrency startup StormX is making a big marketing splash in the corner of an NBA jersey.

StormX just inked a deal with the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers that will feature the company’s logo on team jerseys for the next five years, beginning with the 2021-22 season.

The NBA in 2017 introduced its jersey patch sponsorship program that allows teams to earn revenue from companies who pay to get their logo stitched on the front left shoulder area of jerseys.

In 2017, jersey patch deals averaged $9.3 million annually. The Trail Blazers previously had a jersey deal with Performance Health and its Biofreeze brand.

StormX didn’t reveal specific financials but said it signed an eight-figure contract that also includes in-arena branding and the rights to be the “exclusive blockchain partner of the Portland Trail Blazers.” It also has rights to distribute and conduct team-identified marketing internationally.

StormX CEO Simon Yu. (StormX Photo)

Founded in 2015, StormX operates a platform that lets users earn cryptocurrency rewards when they shop at one of more than 750 stores. It also has its own token called STMX that has a market value of $209 million.

StormX makes money off transaction fees when their users make purchases from their partner brands.

StormX’s app has more than 3 million downloads and has paid out more than $4 million in rewards to date. It’s one of many crypto and blockchain-related startups attracting attention from investors.

StormX is the first crypto company to be an NBA jersey sponsor and the first crypto brand to work with the Trail Blazers, highlighting the technology’s growing adoption and popularity in recent years.

“We are extremely excited to have our team wear such a groundbreaking, revolutionary company on the front of our jerseys,” Trail Blazers President and CEO Chris McGowan said in a statement. 

To “commemorate the partnership,” the Blazers will launch their first NFT later this month based on its Gameday Poster Series. The NBA has been riding the NFT craze with its popular NBA Top Shot platform.

The Miami Heat, another NBA team, earlier this year signed a $135 million naming-rights deal with crypto exchange FTX and renamed its arena FTX Arena.

In April StormX raised $6 million to fuel growth; investors include Plug and Play Ventures, an early backer of PayPal and rewards app Honey, which was acquired by PayPal for $4 billion. Sidenote: PayPal is the jersey sponsor for the Phoenix Suns.

Total funding to date for StormX is $38.7 million. The company, which has 21 team members, plans to offer a debit card later this year and is partnering with a top payments provider to offer more rewards to cardholders.

StormX is led by Simon Yu, a University of Washington grad and former KeyBank analyst who also founded Bomba Fusion, a Korean fusion food truck and catering business in Seattle. Yu is also a Portland, Ore., native and a big NBA fan who grew up supporting the Trail Blazers.

Yu founded StormX as CakeCodes, which graduated from Techstars Seattle in 2016. He co-founded StormX with Calvin Hsieh.

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