Sports Loft Invests in Satisfi Labs, Fevo and Slate
London-based sports technology investor Sports Loft has announced new investments in AI chatbot provider Satisfi Labs, soccer commerce platform Fevo and content management app Slate. Sports Loft was founded in 2019 by Charlie Greenwood, the former head of strategic planning for Nike’s U.K. operations.
The investments came as part of Satisfi Labs’ Series A round, Fevo’s Series C round and Slate’s seed funding round. Google and Major League Baseball previously invested in Satisfi Labs, whose chatbots are used across MLB, NFL, NBA, NASCAR and NHL teams to share information with fans on gamedays.
Fevo’s Series C round was valued at $36.5 million and included funding from Drive by DraftKings and HBSE Ventures, among other investors. Slate’s app to streamline social media content creation is used by teams such as the Golden State Warriors, Tottenham Hotspur, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.
Sports Loft is focused on investing in startups at the intersection of sports and media. Sports Loft’s portfolio also includes soccer training app Balln, content publishing system Greenfly and interactive media production startup Tagboard.
San Francisco 49ers Alert Law Enforcement After Reported Cyber Attack of the Team’s Financial Data
Ransomware gang BlackByte claims to have stolen financial data from the San Francisco 49ers. The cyber criminal group posted internal documents it stole from the NFL team to a site on the dark web, according to the Associated Press.
The 49ers notified law enforcement about the attack and hired cybersecurity firms for assistance. The team said that the incident disrupted its corporate IT network systems, but does not believe that data connected to its home stadium was compromised.
“To date, we have no indication that this incident involves systems outside of our corporate network, such as those connected to Levi’s Stadium operations or ticket holders,” the 49ers said in a statement on Super Bowl Sunday.
The FBI and U.S. Secret Service released a security alert on BlackByte on Friday, two days before news of this attack on the 49ers. In 2020, the hacking group OurMine posted messages from the NFL’s official Twitter account and social media accounts belonging to about half of the league’s teams.
Just Did It: Nike Led All Brands In Screen Time During Super Bowl, According to Automated Valuation Survey
Consulting firm Elevate Sports Ventures partnered with cloud-based AI provider Hive for a brand valuation study using automatic logo detection during the Super Bowl broadcast, identifying more than 75 minutes of exposure beyond the traditional commercials at an equivalent media value of $170 million.
The data was compiled by Hive’s Mensio intelligence platform, which reported that 19 brands received more than 10 seconds of screen time during the Super Bowl LVI telecast on NBC. Nike, which is the NFL’s on-field apparel provider, led the way with a total of 46 minutes, 37 seconds of screen time while Pepsi, the halftime show sponsor, received 11 on-air mentions—the same number as the second- and third-most-mentioned brands, Toyota and SoFi, received combined (Toyota sponsored NBC’s halftime report; SoFi is the naming rights partner for the game venue).
News coverage and highlights will amplify the exposure, with the report projecting that every minute of screen time in the game leads to roughly four minutes of additional exposure, based on last year’s Super Bowl. Elevate and Hive noted that apparel brands accounted for two-thirds of brand exposures, led by Nike but also including Oakley, New Era, Adidas, Under Armour and Air Jordan.
Elevate Sports Ventures is a joint venture of the San Francisco 49ers and Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, with Oak View Group, Ticketmaster and Live Nation as additional partners.
Video Production Platform Wildmoka Integrates With LiveLike to Enhance Sports Broadcast Experiences
Wildmoka and LiveLike have partnered to integrate their services for broadcasters across sports, news and entertainment. Sports broadcasters use Wildmoka’s video editing platform to produce live video highlights and replays, while LiveLike creates interactive broadcast experiences such as on-screen quizzes, polls, prediction meters and leaderboards.
LiveLike has collaborated with the Golden State Warriors to launch a Game Mode inside the team’s mobile app and also created virtual watch parties for La Liga North America. Wildmoka’s video production platform has been used by beIN Sports, Tennis Channel, the Big 12 and Big East conferences and Major League Soccer.
“Plugging [Wildmoka’s] Digital Media Factory with our interactive capabilities is a further step to automating workflows for our partners who can use LiveLike as their one-stop shop for retention strategies,” LiveLike CCO Samuel Westberg said in a statement.
Porsche, Sharp Alpha Advisors Invest in Motorsports Data Startup Griiip
Motorsports data company Griiip has closed a seed funding round led by Sharp Alpha Advisors and Porsche Ventures. Griiip’s sensor-based hardware called RedBox collects real-time data from race cars to support fan engagement offerings such as broadcast graphics and fantasy and betting applications.
Griiip, based in Israel, aims to work with the world’s top racing leagues, having already partnered with Europe’s DTM series. The company can track real-time data on a driver’s stress levels, a vehicle’s battery or engine status predicted lap times or how the length of a pitstop impacts a driver’s chance of winning.
“Motorsport fans are missing out on the benefits tech could bring them, ironically in the most high-tech sport of them all, and that is where motorsport can learn from many other sports which have embraced tech to improve the fan experience,” Griiip founder Tamir Plachinsky wrote in an op-ed for SBJ.
Porsche Ventures is the venture capital arm of Porsche, which has an electric car in Formula E and has been rumored to be considering a return to Formula 1. Sharp Alpha Advisors launched a $10 million fund in October to invest in sports betting related startups.
New York’s Record-Setting Mobile Betting Debut Also Sees a Surge in Problem Gambling Calls
New Yorkers dialed the state’s problem gambling hotline 91 times more in January compared to the same month last year. The 46% uptick in calls came during the first month of legal online sports betting in N.Y., which had a single-month U.S. record of $1.6 billion in sports bets placed on mobile phones.
“With the start of Mobile Sports Betting and the proliferation of gambling ads and giveaways, we anticipate the numbers of individuals and families needing help will continue to increase,” New York Council on Problem Gambling executive director Jim Maney told PlayNY.
New Yorkers made 198 problem gambling calls to the NY HOPEline in Jan. 2021 compared to 289 last month, according to data shared to PlayNY from a state government spokesperson. The state generated $57.6 million in taxes from online sports betting last month and $113 million in revenue for the sportsbooks. FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, BetMGM, PointsBet, WynnBET and Bet Rivers are the seven sportsbooks currently operating mobile apps in N.Y.
New York sports channel MSG Networks this week launched “Bet-A-Palooza presented by DraftKings,” a slate of new betting programming that includes a betting-themed game broadcast airing on the MSG+ and MSG GO streaming platform. That simulcast debuted with last night’s New York Knicks game against the Golden State Warriors and will return for Saturday’s Knicks game, as well.
“We must address this issue in real time and not 1 year or 2 years down the road. The clock is ticking because now that Mobile Sports Betting has started, there are serious discussions regarding the addition of 3 downstate casino licenses and right after that will come iGaming, eSports, betting kiosks at racetracks and arenas like Madison Square Garden,” Maney wrote in a letter, in which he asked New York State to give $15 million toward problem gambling support.
The American Gaming Association estimates that 31 million Americans will wager a total of $7.6 billion on Super Bowl LVI. While Sunday’s Bengals-Rams matchup will feature an all-out blitz of ads from legal sports betting apps, problem gambling departments are concerned about betting-like free games being marketed towards kids. For example, the NFL and Nickelodeon’s slime-draped website collaboration is asking kids to pick the winner of Sunday’s big game. The site gives points for correct picks alongside cartoon visuals and NFL trivia.
“There’s a massive exposure effect. There’s a habituation and grooming effect,” Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, told Axios.
Sacramento Kings Accepting Startup Pitches for Seventh-Annual Capitalize Contest, Will Host Tech Night Against Warriors
The Sacramento Kings have begun accepting applications for its seventh-annual Capitalize startup competition. Partners working with the NBA team to host the contest include the Sacramento Urban Technology Lab, business communications company Dialpad and marketing consultant group 3STEPS4WARD.
Startups have until Feb. 25 to apply for Capitalize, which will award $10,000 to a winner on Tech Night, April 3, at the Golden 1 Center when the Kings host the Golden State Warriors. A $3,000 prize will be awarded to the second-place startup and $1,500 for third place. Startups based within 75 miles of Sacramento are eligible for the contest.
A panel of Kings’ president of business operations John Rinehart, Kings’ VP of experiences and social responsibility Maritza Davis, Dialpad CEO Craig Walker, 3STEPS4WARD Doug Younger III and Berkeley Strategy Advisors managing partner Kenny Sadler will judge eight semifinalists at a pitch day on March 21.
A selected four finalists will advance to upload pitch videos to the Kings’ website. Fans can vote on Twitter until halftime of the Kings-Warriors game to select the winning startup, which will be decided by tallying votes from fans and judges.
Credder, an online community for writing reviews of news articles, won last year’s Capitalize competition. Past startups to participate in the program include parking management app Japa and nutritional meal plan service Trifecta.
UFC Enters Brazilian Sports Betting Market With Stake.com
The UFC has expanded its partnership with crypto gaming and sports betting company Stake.com. Already UFC’s official betting partner in Asia and Latin America, Stake.com will now also become UFC’s first betting partner in Brazil.
Stake.com branding will appear during certain pay-per-view and Fight Night events throughout the year and will become the presenting partner of UFC events that take place in Brazil. In addition, Stake.com will collaborate with UFC on exclusive digital and social content, as well as exclusive promotions for fans.
The two companies will create branded social content ahead of UFC 271 on Saturday at Houston’s Toyota Center. The event will see Stake.com brand ambassador and UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya defend his title against Robert Whittaker.
Tezos Blockchain Becomes Manchester United Training Kit Sponsor
Tezos has become the official blockchain and training kit partner of Manchester United in a multi-year deal. The deal will see Tezos pay more than $27 million per year, according to The Athletic.
Tezos branding will appear on both the men’s and women’s team training kits, beginning before the club’s match this weekend against Southampton. Tezos will also make donations to the club in tez—the company’s native cryptocurrency—and work with the club to offer blockchain-based fan experiences.
Promoting itself as an energy efficient blockchain with a “proof-of-stake” model, Tezos reflects the club’s broader eco-friendly approach, according to United’s CEO of alliances and partnerships Victoria Timpson. Tezos also has sponsorship deals with the New York Mets and FloSports.
“We are especially pleased to be partnering with one of the most eco-friendly blockchains, using technology that is energy-efficient, limits carbon emissions and lowers costs, consistent with the Club’s wider efforts to promote environmental sustainability,” Timpson said in a statement.
Esportudo, a Sports Media Startup for Latin Fans, Raises $1.6 Million
Latino sports media company Esportudo has closed a $1.6 million seed round led by Vice Ventures. The round brings Esportudo’s total funding to more than $2.3 million.
Esportudo is a tech-centric content provider targeting Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking sports fans. Its apps and social media accounts already generate more than 300 million monthly views spanning a host of media offerings: written stories, podcasts, videos, newsletters and more.
A graduate of the 2020 Techstars sports accelerator in Indianapolis, Esportudo was co-founded by Marcos Araujo and Gabriella Silva, two first-generation Brazilian Americans who call Boston home. Vice Ventures is a New York City firm focused on backing companies that appeal to underserved consumer markets.
Washington Nationals Plan to Accept Crypto at Its Stadium Through a New Deal With Terra
The Washington Nationals plan to let fans use cryptocurrency at Nationals Park as part of the team’s new sponsorship with decentralized autonomous organization Terra. The club will explore letting fans use Terra’s UST stablecoin for in-venue purchases as soon as next MLB season.
The premier food and beverage club located behind home plate at Nationals Park has been renamed The Terra Club. Terra’s brand will appear on in-stadium signage and in a digital series on the team’s social channels. Crypto’s introduction at Nationals Park comes as BetMGM opened a retail sportsbook at the ballpark last month, the first sports betting operation connected to an MLB stadium.
“By approving this sponsorship deal, the community has a new way to engage and educate the public, including the policy makers doing important work in Washington, D.C., about decentralized money and the burgeoning technology that underlies it,” Do Kwon, founder of Terraform Labs, said in a statement.
Federal lawmakers and crypto lobbyists met in D.C. on Wednesday, during which the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission asked Congress for authority to regulate some cryptocurrencies. Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of Bahamas-based crypto exchange FTX, which partnered with MLB last season among its flurry of sponsorships across sports, said he supported federal regulation during Wednesday’s hearing, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“I think the CFTC is in a very strong position to do this,” Bankman-Fried said. “I would love to see that jurisdiction expand to be able to provide federal oversight for the cash markets similar to how they do for derivatives markets today, both to provide consumer protection, protect against systemic risks, and provide a clear and consistent framework for the industry.”
Last year, the Oakland A’s became the first MLB club to accept cryptocurrency, though that was limited to the team accepting Bitcoin in exchange for season suite tickets. The NBA’s Dallas Mavericks began accepting Dogecoin in 2021 for items from the team’s online store.
Other sports teams in the nation’s capital to embrace crypto include the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals. Both teams expanded their partnerships with FTX last week to launch a sweepstakes that’s expected to give away thousands in Bitcoin to fans in the D.C area.