Matt Kaufman knew from the start that he wanted to work in gaming, so after quitting his job on Wall Street, he packed his bags and moved across the country to Las Vegas where he didn’t know a soul—but trusted it would offer him the specific types of career opportunities he sought.
He edged his way into the industry, securing a good and stable full-time position in gaming, before meeting and working for his soon-to-be mentor, Chris Grove, then owner of a small affiliate company. With the pay increase not being immediate and compensation being based on performance, Kaufman was in unchartered and intimidating waters.
But he was so impressed with Grove that he knew he wanted to continue any chance to work with him. He watched Grove grow the business substantially and eventually sell it, and he has joined him in many business ventures since. Later, Grove joined market research and consulting firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming as a partner—and he made Kaufman his first hire there.
Kaufman has played a significant part in broadening the scope of the consulting engagements that the firm has undertaken. As a smaller company at the time, Eilers & Krejcik was not initially perceived as having the same output capabilities that a larger management consulting firm might, but through time and hard work, those misassumptions were radically changed.
Having worked closely with Adam Krejcik, Kaufman has acted as an adviser on billions of dollars’ worth of M&A transactions, consequentially establishing strong relationships with many of the largest investment firms in the world. A significant change from the past, Eilers & Krejcik is now frequently the first firm that clients contact when they’re considering a deal within gaming.
“We’re more often than not the primary advising consultancy on transactions regardless of deal size,” says Kaufman. “I’m very proud of the work we’ve done towards making that a reality.”
In the earlier part of Kaufman’s gaming career, esports betting had emerged as a new topic that addressed a demographic younger than that of most traditional gaming verticals. Kaufman consequently performed an extensive amount of advisory work related to the relationship between gambling and esports.
This shift to esports inspired veteran industry leaders to be more willing to consider younger professionals as topical experts. Says Kaufman, “If you were a young professional, you may have had unique insights about how similarly aged people think about various topics across gaming—and you could leverage that to provide value to your company if you aren’t shy about sharing those thoughts.”
To future emerging leaders, Kaufman stresses the importance of respecting one’s direct report, and notes that it’s easier to perform well in an environment where recognition and reward will be offered in exchange for hard work.
“Choose opportunities keeping heavily in mind who you’re directly reporting to,” he advises. “They will play a significant role in what your future looks like within an organization, so you need to genuinely respect them, and they need to respect you back.”