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SportsTech in March — A summary

Record spendings into SportsTech

Before we start: Here’s a song to bring you into the right mood for the upcoming content (unrelated to the author of this article).

Alright. Now that the scene is set lets jump right into it.

🤑 It’s deal o’clock

When publishing our Global SportsTech VC Report in Q4 last year we reported a $1b+ investment month for SportsTech in September. Our explanation: Investors have been holding back their funds over the year, only to jump at the most promising prospects when the first signs occurred that the world is moving out of the pandemic. Other strong months followed, with the main investment themes being Fitness (primarily in the US) and Fantasy Sports (primarily in India). Let’s keep that in mind for a bit.

Fast forward six months later. It’s early April 2021. And this is what just happened...

One by one:

Three out of those four match exactly the spike that we’ve seen in September, as we have US-based Fitness (Tonal, Tempo) and India-based Fantasy Sports (Dream11). In fact Tonal and Dream11 were already amongst the contributors in September, now securing their second large round within six months. It almost seems like history is repeating itself, but instead of a month it now only took them 10 days. Bull market anyone?

But who’s the new kid on the block(chain)? One out of the four does not fit to the established pattern that we have seen. It’s Dapper Labs, creators of NBA Top Shot (and Crypto Kitties back then), the NFT / digital collectibles platform that just surpassed $500m in sales. That number alone plus other prospects coming in (UFC already confirmed, alleged talks with the NFL, NHL and MLB) sparks investor’s interest. Who is involved in the current round besides the GOAT himself?

Athletes: Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Kyle Lowry, Spencer Dinwiddie, Andre Drummond, Alex Caruso, Michael Carter-Williams, Josh Hart, Udonis Haslem, JaVale McGee, Khris Middleton, Domantas Sabonis, Klay Thompson, Nikola Vucevic, Thad Young, Tim Beckham, Nolan Arenado, Ken Crawley, Thomas Davis, Stefon Diggs, Dee Ford, Malcom Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Jordan Matthew, Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty, DK Metcalf, Tyrod Taylor and Trent Williams.

Others: Vivek Ranadive (Kings), Bolt Ventures, Richard Seymour’s 93 Ventures, Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures, Will Smith and Keisuke Honda’s Dreamers VC, Shawn Mendes and Andrew Gertler’s AG Ventures, Shay Mitchell, and 2 Chainz, a16z, The Chernin Group, USV, Version One, and Venrock.

What an all-star lineup! Random thought: Who would ever have expected that the Crypto Kitties makers and Michael Jordan team up…

Speaking of NFTs

We at SportsTechX are big believers in the potential the technology has for sports. In order to educate ourselves and others we set up a new initiative called NIFTY SPORTS, aiming to be the your single source of information for everything that is related to NFTs in the world of sports. Expect news, drops, trades and insights into the market. Need an example? We did a quick comparison of Q1 for NBA Top Shot and Sorare.

Want more of this? Subscribe to our newsletter and make sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter to ensure that you hear about breaking news, drop announcement and other relevant happenings right when they pop up. Oh, and our content is available as a podcast as well (on all major platforms). See you on the nifty side!

💥 More highlights of the month

The acquisition market is heating up as well!

🚴 Peloton acquires Atlas Wearables, Otari Mat, Peerfit, and Aiqudo, adding a smart yoga mat, an AI coach plus a fitness tracking device to their portfolio. At the same time they are partnering with Adidas for a collection and stating that the apparel department is the biggest growth driver within the company. What does all that mean? Peloton is developing from a “one product company” into a full fledged connected lifestyle and tech company that utilises its strong premium brand. All while the FAANG’s are pushing heavily into the fitness market (see our North American SportsTech Report). One of the most exciting spaces to watch!

🎥 Sportradar acquires Synergy Sports, the leading U.S. college sports data and video analytics provider to its portfolio. That news came shortly after announcing to go public via a $10b SPAC deal lead by Todd Boehly. Makes it even easier to spend some money :) The goal behind the acquisition? To strengthen the company’s U.S. sports offering, both in college and professional sports, and to add Synergy’s automated sports technology solutions. All in order to provide a seamless experience for media companies, leagues and betting operators alike.

👑 DraftKings acquires VSiN, the multi-platform sports betting broadcast and content company to boost sports betting content. That does not come as a surprise, as we recently have witnessed multiple cases where sports betting and sports content go hand in hand, and DraftKings previously announcing an integration with Dish. More examples? ESPN has launched a YouTube channel dedicated to betting while Yahoo has been working with the NBA on betting-centric broadcasts, including commentators and screen graphics. And content isn’t just limited to the live broadcast either, FanDuel recently announced a social media partnership with WAVE.tv who will launch betting themed TikTok and Instagram channels to reach younger audiences.

And we haven’t even covered Eleven’s acquisition of Team Whistle or content platform theScore raising $186.3m through a U.S. IPO. And what’s gonna happen when all those money-loaded SPACs start to deploy their money?! This space is bananas ;)

🧹 Finishing up

And that is it, the third article in our new monthly series that looks back on what happened in the world of SportsTech. The next article of this series will be published in the first week of May. In the meantime make sure to check out our other content:

And have a look at Hello SportsTech, where we showcase cool, new SportsTech apps & devices and present the latest top news.

Have a great day!

Benjamin Penkert is the Founder of Berlin based SportsTechX — Data & insights about startups and innovation in sports. You can get in touch via Linkedin, Twitter or email.

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Benjamin Penkert

Benjamin Penkert

Founder of @sportstechx. All about #sportstech and #startups.