Sportico, in partnership with Sports Innovation Lab, presents a bi-weekly series of conversations focused on thought leadership, innovation and action - where no topics are off the table and all questions are in bounds.

Co-hosted by Sportico Editor-In-Chief, Scott Soshnick and Sports Innovation Lab’s President and Co-Founder, Josh Walker, the Ask ____ Anything series unites the sports business community through conversations with the impact players and visionaries that lead the industry, while charting the course for the future of leagues, teams and related businesses.
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    Lawrence Epstein
    SVP and Chief Operating Officer, UFC
    Ike Lawrence Epstein serves as Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at UFC®, the world’s leading mixed martial arts (MMA) organization. He is responsible for all global business operations and for managing the company’s overall performance and growth.

    Epstein previously served as UFC’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, where he spearheaded the regulatory efforts for MMA, gaining approval and sanction from legislative bodies around the world, including most recently France. With his guidance, UFC has become the fastest growing sports brand in the world, producing approximately 42 live events annually, while broadcasting to nearly one billion TV households in 40 languages across more than 170 countries and territories.

    Over the years, Epstein has played a pivotal role in negotiating UFC’s most significant business deals, including UFC’s landmark media rights agreements with ESPN and FOX Sports. In 2016, Epstein led the team that negotiated the sale of UFC to Endeavor for $4 billion, recognized as the largest sale of a sports property in history.

    Prior to joining UFC, Epstein was a Partner and the President of the Nevada-based law firm Beckley Singleton, which expanded its practice in 2007 when it joined with law firm Lewis, Roca, Rothgerber, Christie to form Lewis and Roca LLP. His private practice focused on business litigation and encompassed transactional work, including contracts related to MMA and boxing, as well as other entertainment businesses. He is rated AV (Preeminent) by Martindale Hubbell and has been featured in numerous publications, including the American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, Vanderbilt Lawyer, and Sports Business Journal.

    Epstein is also the President of IKE Gaming, Inc., the owner of the iconic El Cortez Hotel and Casino in Downtown Las Vegas. He has maintained a non-restricted gaming license in Nevada since 1992.

    A life-long resident of Las Vegas, Epstein has dedicated his time and resources to numerous local and national civic and charitable organizations. In 2016, he was named to the board of directors of the National Fitness Foundation, the only congressionally chartered nonprofit focused on health and fitness. The Foundation develops corporate partnerships to help expand youth sport participation in America and is the official charity of the President's Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition.

    In January 2017, Epstein was named a charter member and Vice Chair of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board of directors, which owns and oversees Allegiant Stadium, the city’s new 65,000-seat, $1.9 billion facility that serves as home to the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders. He is also a member of the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust and the Vanderbilt Law School Board of Advisors.

    In 2018, Epstein was named an advisor to The Policing Project at the New York University School of Law, a nonprofit organization that partners with communities and their police to promote public safety through transparency, democratic governance, and equity, with a particular focus on racial justice.

    Epstein holds a Juris Doctorate and a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University.
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    Josh Walker
    Co-Founder and President of Sports Innovation Lab
    Josh Walker is Co-Founder and President of Sports Innovation Lab where he oversees the company's innovative and proprietary market intelligence platform. Through market analysis and unbiased research, he empowers brands to develop and implement game-changing, breakthrough experiences in a new age of sports and entertainment fandom. His work at Sports Innovation Lab represents the convergence of his career as a researcher, advisor, entrepreneur, and sports journalist.

    A former Vice President of Research at Forrester, Josh was responsible for launching the company’s Forrester Wave evaluation framework, designed to accelerate innovation by connecting technology buyers with the best vendors.

    After Forrester, Josh spent time as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at General Catalyst advising fast-growing companies including Brightcove, Kayak, and Demandware. He soon became a serial entrepreneur himself, using his passion for technology and data to launch and grow several venture-backed companies such as CityVoter, Comlinkdata, and Stattleship.

    Josh is a graduate of Middlebury College and resides in Cambridge, Mass., with his wife and two sons.
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    Eben Novy-Williams
    Sports Business Reporter, Sportico
    Eben Novy-Williams is a sports business reporter and podcast host at Sportico, a news venture launched earlier this year by Penske Media.

    Prior to joining Sportico, Novy-Williams spent nine years covering the intersection of money and sports at Bloomberg News. His writing has appeared online, in Businessweek magazine and in newspapers across the country. He was also co-host of the Bloomberg Business of Sports podcast.