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TAYLOR’S TAKE ON THE WEEK IN SPORTS TECH: Another tech exec is getting into the NBA ownership game.
The latest is Joe Tsai, co-founder and executive vice chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. ESPN reported Friday that Tsai will buy a 49 percent stake in the Brooklyn Nets.
I met Tsai at Alibaba’s headquarters on my trip to China in 2015, when the company hosted college basketball teams from the University of Washington and University of Texas.
ESPN reports that the Nets are now valued at $2.3 billion. That’s more than what billionaire restaurateur Tilman Fertitta paid for the Rockets last month. And it exceeds the $2 billion that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer paid for the Clippers in 2014 — a price tag many thought was crazy.
Tsai joins Ballmer; Kings owner Vivek Ranadive; Mavericks owner Mark Cuban; Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber; and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert as former tech moguls who now own NBA teams. Wired had a good analysis of this trend last year.
Highlights from the week in sports tech
- SeatGeek and Facebook announced a partnership to let Sporting KC fans buy soccer tickets directly within Facebook. Expect this trend — buying tickets on Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, etc. — to grow, especially as companies like SeatGeek use an open API approach. SeatGeek co-founder Russ D’Souza talked about this at our GeekWire Sports Tech Summit.
- The Athletic, a new subscription sports site and app now live in seven cities, wants to “pillage newspapers,” as The New York Times reported. The CEO later backtracked on his statements.
- Big news for Seattle startup Volt, as the workout app platform inked a partnership with Gatorade, which will provide nutrition and recovery content to Volt users. It’s another example of Gatorade’s push into sports tech and science.
- Innovative camera technology is giving sports broadcasters new ways to show live games. But there are limitations that prevent devices like “SkyCam,” used during last week’s Falcons vs. Patriots game, to become the new norm, ESPN reports.
— Sports Video Group (@sportsvideo) October 23, 2017
- What is Bleacher Report’s secret weapon for fighting ESPN? Focusing on sports culture and millennials, Fast Company reports. BR co-founder Dave Finocchio also talked about this at our Sports Tech Summit.
- Speaking of millennials, check out this McKinsey report titled “We are wrong about millennial sports fans.”
- FIFA and EA today announced the first-ever eWorld Cup, which will pit the world’s top FIFA gamers against each other.
- The Wall Street Journal asks: Will sports be able to survive robot referees and biomedical player monitors?
- T-Mobile is using its MLB sponsorship and the World Series to donate money for Puerto Rico relief efforts.
- Bend, Ore.-based startup KrowdFit, which operates a wellness rewards platform, just raised $3.8 million.
- GG Expo, the first “player-focused” esports conference, will take place next May in the Seattle region.
What to watch this weekend:
Dude, did you see that World Series game on Thursday? October baseball is fun. It’s tied at 1-1 with Game 3 tonight at 5 p.m. PT on FOX … A ton of good college football games on Saturday, but the one to watch is No. 2 Penn State vs. No. 6 Ohio State at 12:30 p.m. on FOX … Steelers vs. Lions for Sunday Night Football on NBC seems to be the best NFL matchup.
Thanks for tuning in, everyone! — Taylor Soper