Since Amy Howe was appointed FanDuel CEO in February 2021, she has seen shifts, both small and large, in the gaming industry, most caused by events and forces beyond her control.
The annual inflation rate in June reached 9.1%, the highest since November 1981. The cost of capital has risen, delaying proposed mergers and acquisitions. The diversity of the industry, Howe believes, needs to be improved.
Such roadblocks seem daunting. But Howe told CNBC’s Contessa Brewer Wednesday during “Insight from CEO of FanDuel, Amy Howe”“¯at SBC Summit North America that she’s confident about the company’s future.
“I can safely say for us right now that we’re in a very good position, being part of the largest global-gaming-operator Flutter,” Howe said. “We’re quite confident in our position.”
Howe’s chat with Brewer drew a standing-room-only audience at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in New Jersey. As FanDuel’s CEO, Howe has become one of the most recognizable and powerful executives in gaming, a role model for women at a time when men still dominate C-suites and board rooms.
With a background that includes stints as COO and chief strategy officer of Live Nation and president of Ticketmaster, Howe said she joined FanDuel convinced that the company’s culture meshed with her outlook. FanDuel’s diversity and inclusiveness were apparent and she liked the idea that the company had employees who were present when it solely a DFS site, as well as talented workers who “were not subject-matter experts about gaming.”
“I think that’s what makes this organization unique,” Howe said. “We all bring different points of view to the table. And especially in a business like this, where there’s a lot of pattern recognition, I draw every day from running Ticketmaster. Big tech companies who are scaling, who are in disruptive spaces, who sometimes distract themselves to get to that next level? I think that’s the power of building a diverse team and I’m not talking just about gender diversity and people of color. I’m talking about diversity of thought.”
Howe noted that when the pandemic struck, she was at Live Nation as live entertainment was shut down for an extended period. Now that the country is returning to “whatever version of the new normal we’re going to have,” she thinks it’s important to emphasize that while much of FanDuel’s business is transacted online, the company’s brick-and-mortar sportsbooks are essential to the company’s future.
“We view what we do as a form of entertainment,” Howe said. “And you see how online sports betting is fundamentally changing the narrative of the sports pop culture in the United States. But retail is important to us. We have some really critical market-access partners in Boyd (Gaming) … and here at the Meadowlands, which is one of the largest retail sportsbooks in the country, if not the largest.”
Brewer recalled that when they first met, Howe said the spend for acquisition was unsustainable, which “made headlines around the world,” according to the CNBC Business News correspondent.
A little more than a year later, Howe said the job has been fun, but challenging, because of the enormous obligations she must fulfill.
“It’s very clear to me that we all have a responsibility to make sure that (this is all viable) for the long term,” Howe said. “So any role that collectively we can all play in doing that is important. And it becomes more and more important every day.”
“I feel incredibly fortunate to be where I am today,” Howe added. “To be able to use my platform and the FanDuel platform to do great things for industry, to build around diversity, to advocate for really talented individuals and my company and the industry, is a huge privilege.”