This week in Gridiron Tech, we take a look at some of the movers and shakers in the football industry, including one industry giant who decided to enter the eSports arena, a NFL quarterback who has invested in multiple technology products and a new platform for players to conduct their post-game press conferences.
FanDuel and beyond: About a decade ago, I was attending a Sports Business Technology Conference in New York City and bumped into a gentleman by the name of Nigel Eccles. He was quick to slide me his business card and his accent suggested that he surely wasn’t from the States, but he was eager to tell me about his great new fantasy football concept. The fantasy football market was in the midst of a boom and there were many competitors. I remember walking away from the conversation thinking that he just might have a fighter’s chance. Well, he had much more than that! There was one minor detail that he implemented, which turned out to be significantly different than all the others. His fantasy football game featured weekly competitions and the ability to re-draft a new team, or multiple teams each week. The website was called FanDuel. I mention this story because even though the market was extremely saturated at the time, Eccles had the vision to offer something unique to the consumer. This past week, at age 42, he stepped down as CEO of the industry giant so that he can pursue his next opportunity in the eSports arena. I’m confident that Eccles and his new eSports venture will be a sure bet.
Helmet gets help: With the type of momentum that Seattle-based Vicis is generating on the gridiron, you wonder why the high-tech football helmet, which was founded in 2014, has not yet been fully integrated into the NFL. The helmet is designed to mitigate the forces thought to cause concussions. This season, players from more than 15 NFL teams and 20 NCAA football programs are wearing the helmet. One of those players is Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who loves the product so much he decided to invest in it. Wilson participated in a $7 million round led by The Peregrine Group. Total funding in Vicis is now close to $50 million. This is not the first technology venture that has drawn Wilson’s cash. Just last month, he was part of a funding round led by Jeff Bezos for his new app, TraceMe.
#Verified Arrives: The Players Tribune has rolled out its new show #Verified, which airs exclusively on Twitter, Monday nights at 7:30pm EST. The program is intended to be a next-gen press conference that connects athletes directly with their fans and provides interesting commentary from a side rarely shown— directly from the players themselves. Twitter users can submit questions using the hashtag #VerifiedTPT. The first episode featured Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green. Other players scheduled to appear on the lineup include Mohamed Sanu of the Falcons and T.J. Watt of the Steelers. For more info, visit here.
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