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TAYLOR’S TAKE ON THE WEEK IN SPORTS TECH: The NBA has tapped a Seattle startup to lower the cost of its travel expenses.
Founded in 2007, Yapta’s technology helps corporate travelers snag cheaper airfare and hotel rates. The startup has raised $25 million to date and was just named to Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 list.
One of the company’s 6,500 customers is the NBA, which uses Yapta to save travel costs for both employees across its 13 offices worldwide, and for players and teams that fly upwards of 60,000 miles per season.
Joe Postiglione, vice president of global procurement for the NBA, told GeekWire that the league uses Yapta to find savings without “sacrificing original needs.”
“Human resources had to find these opportunities if they had the time and bandwidth to do so,” he said. “It would be at a significantly slower pace.”
The amount of travel required by NBA players has become a hot button issue over the past few years, with some coaches benching players for rest because of the strenuous schedule. While the NBA uses Yapta for cost savings, I wonder if the league — which just hired its first chief innovation officer — tapped other analytics or data tools when it tweaked the 2017-18 schedule with a focus on player health.
Other Yapta customers include Costco, Providence Health, and Amazon, which has saved $6.5 million since working with the startup last year. The company was originally founded with consumers in mind, but by 2012 — around the time Yapta CEO James Filsinger came onboard — it had decided to pivot toward corporate travelers.
Highlights from the week in sports tech
- Lots of chatter this week about SportsCenter’s new twice-daily show on Snapchat. ESPN will publish two shows per day that run three-to-five minutes each, with a goal of reaching younger sports fans. “This is not your father’s SportsCenter,” Awful Announcing noted. Recode, meanwhile, reported that NFL highlights won’t be shown due to rights restrictions.
- Amazon continues to buy up sports streaming rights. The Seattle tech giant just inked a deal for ATP tennis events for Prime members in the U.K. and Republic of Ireland.
- ScoreBook Live just raised another $450,000. The Spokane, Wash.-based startup lets high school football and basketball teams record stats and play-by-play information that is accessible in real-time and after games via its app, which is used by coaches, players, athletic directors, media partners, fans, and others. Another similar startup, ScoreStream, just raised $3.7 million from Intel’s venture capital arm.
- Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who ruptured his achilles tendon last week, did a live Q&A from his hospital bed on Thursday. It was a cool way for Sherman to interact with fans that submitted questions on the YouTube stream. I’m surprised this type of live online interaction doesn’t happen more. It reminded me of Russell Wilson’s new startup and app, TraceMe, which aims to connect “superfans” with celebrities, offering daily exclusive behind-the-scenes content from your favorite athlete, artist, actor, or other influential person.
- More on Sherman — I learned this week that the NFL star is working with FleetWit, a trivia site that gives away daily cash prizes and has racked up 100,000 users.
- The Seahawks are hosting the Madden 18 Seahawks Championship on Saturday at CenturyLink Field. We covered the Madden 17 championship in Seattle this past March. Expect to see more crossover between traditional sports and video games.
- Good sleuthing by Recode, which spotted fake NBA gear on Alibaba’s Taobao shopping site on the same day we learned about Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai buying 49 percent of the Brooklyn Nets.
- Check out Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for sports here.
- Inboard Technology just raised $8 million “to be the Tesla of electric skateboards,” TechCrunch reported.
- This week in Seattle I met with Marilou McFarlane, co-founder of a new organization called Women in Sports Tech. The Bay Area-based group aims to help sports tech companies diversify their workforce and encourage more women to land leadership roles in the industry.
- Shares of Foot Locker and other sports retailers were up big Friday after better-than-expected earnings results.
- Ohio State fans trolled Apple’s glitch with the letter “I” during last week’s game against Michigan State.
What to watch this weekend: No. 24 Michigan at No. 5 Wisconsin at 9 a.m. PT on FOX is the best college football game … Rams vs. Vikings at 10 a.m. on FOX or Eagles vs. Cowboys at 5:30 p.m. on NBC seem to be the best NFL matchups, though Falcons vs. Seahawks on Monday should also be entertaining.