Russell Wilson already knows a lot about success. But he wants to learn more — and share those lessons with the rest of the world.
The Seattle Seahawks quarterback this week launched a new video series called Legends that features interviews with sports and music stars who share their secrets to success.
The show is produced by and hosted on TraceMe, the Seattle-based media startup Wilson founded last year that raised $9 million from investors like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, YouTube founder Chad Hurley, Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai, and Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group.
Wilson and a few of his friends — wife Ciara; Seahawks star linebacker Bobby Wagner; NBA Hall of Fame center Bill Russell, who is featured on the show — came together for a Legends launch event on Tuesday evening at the Living Computers: Museum + Labs in Seattle.
“I’ve always been fascinated by people’s minds, people’s success, people’s habits,” Wilson said on Tuesday. “I don’t think that things happen by accident. It’s the way that you think, the way that you process, the way you believe.”
Along with Russell, others interviewed by Wilson on the 7-episode series include NFL Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown; Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez; Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr; ESPN host Chris Berman; boxer Laila Ali; and Earth Wind & Fire bassist Verdine White.
Legends is part of TraceMe’s goal of connecting fans with celebrities beyond what’s already available via apps like Facebook or Instagram.
“On social media nowadays, we post stuff and know how many people like or view something, but there’s really no connection to what those views and likes really mean,” Wilson said.
He added that Legends, made in partnership with Wilson’s production company West2East, was created in part to help children.
“I want my kids, your kids, your friends’ kids to be able to take this in and see why people are successful,” Wilson said. “There’s no mistaking why people are successful and what makes them legendary.”
TraceMe spun out of Seattle startup studio Pioneer Square Labs late last year. It initially featured exclusive content with Wilson — for example, instructional videos with Wilson’s personal trainer; a weekly podcast with Wilson; and more. The app has since added celebrities like Ciara and NFL Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara to the platform, with more to come. The 24-person company now sells apparel and also opened a new office in Los Angeles with vice presidents of content and business development.
NFL star Russell Wilson launches new Seattle startup to connect ‘superfans’ with celebs, raises $9M from Amazon, Alibaba, YouTube founders
Last week TraceMe launched new community features that allow fans to create their own profiles and initiate discussion topics.
“The biggest thing we’ve learned so far is that the fans want to interact with each other,” said TraceMe CEO Jason LeeKeenan, a former executive at Hulu and Zulily. “They love going behind-the-scenes to see what’s going on in Russell or Ciara’s lives, but they also want to have a safe, positive, inspirational place to revel in their fandom and engage with each other.”
TraceMe is among a crop of new venture-backed sports media startups ranging from The Players’ Tribune, founded by MLB legend Derek Jeter, to Uninterrupted, founded by NBA superstar LeBron James. NFL quarterback Tom Brady and former lineman Michael Strahan raised VC money earlier this year for Religion of Sports.
Wilson, meanwhile, is one of many sports stars who are helping launch their own startups or investing in new tech-fueled ideas. He’s also an investor in Seattle helmet startup Vicis, as is his teammate Doug Baldwin. Former Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is involved with a number of companies, including Seattle startup Rep the Squad. And ESPN this week spotlighted how Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant is “building a Silicon Valley empire.”