On Monday, April 5th, Vivek Ranadivé, Chairman, CEO, and Governor of the Sacramento Kings, let slip a new plan to begin paying players and staff in Bitcoin (ticker: BTC). Employees would be able to request as much or as little of their salary be paid in Bitcoin as they want.
Read: What is Bitcoin?
The topic came up in a conversation on the new social media app Clubhouse. The app, which is still in beta testing but has attracted high-profile media coverage, is audio-only. Users can choose to enter into conversation rooms based on topics that interest them.
According to someone who was in the room, venture capitalist Tim Draper invited Ranadivé to join a conversation they were having about cryptocurrency. Once in the room and invited as a speaker, Ranadivé let the news slip. “I’m going to announce in the next few days that I’m going to offer everyone in the Kings organization, they can get paid as much of their salary in bitcoin as they want, including the players,” he said. According to news reports, Ranadivé was originally scheduled to announce the change later this week.
In 2014, the Kings began accepting Bitcoin for tickets and concessions at games. This comes as part of Ranadivé’s stated plan to use the Kings to push new and emerging technology to the masses. “When I sold the NBA on keeping the team in Sacramento, my pitch included using the sports franchise as a social network to push the technology envelope,” he said, back in 2014.
The Kings were the first NBA team to incorporate 5G technology into the Golden 1 Center, and recently announced a partnership with Intel to perform R&D on new “broadcast enhancements”—including new Augmented Reality and 360-degree-view technology. The Golden 1 Center is the most technologically advanced stadium in the world.
The push towards Bitcoin specifically comes as other major companies have garnered significant media attention for their own moves in the cryptocurrency space. Tesla recently purchased 1.5 billion dollars worth of Bitcoin and now accepts it as payment for Tesla vehicles. Just a few days ago, Chipotle held the first ever restaurant-sponsored giveaway of bitcoin.
Last year the Dallas Mavericks began accepting the meme cryptocurrency Dogecoin as payment for tickets and merchandise. The owner of the Mavericks, billionaire investor Mark Cuban, criticized the Kings’ move in a comment to CoinDesk, saying, “Any player can convert their income to any crypto they choose. Paying in BTC or any crypto doesn’t really do anything.”
Even still, providing this option shows that cryptocurrencies are beginning to gain real-world application and utility, rather than simply as a store of wealth or investment.