Nike Acquires TraceMe, A Seattle Startup Founded By Russell Wilson And Backed By Jeff Bezos
Nike has acquired digital media startup TraceMe and its fan engagement platform Tally, co-founded by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and backed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Nike confirmed the deal in a statement sent to Geekwire, saying “NIKE, Inc. has acquired TraceMe to supplement the company’s content strategy on Nike-owned platforms.”
Launched in 2017, TraceMe targeted sports teams, broadcasters and venues to help fans engage around sporting events. It connected celebrities with “superfans” through its app with behind-the-scenes content. But TraceMe laid off staff in late 2018, shut down its app and closed an office in Los Angeles, focusing instead on a new idea called Tally — a sports prediction app. Wilson promoted Tally during Super Bowl 2019 and teams used the app including the L.A. Rams, Portland Trail Blazers, and St. Louis Blues, Geekwire reported.
TraceMe overestimated the addressable market for its original celebrity app, CEO Jason LeeKeenan has said in the past.
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Nike started as a shoe and apparel company and is becoming more and more a tech company. It was interested in the intellectual property — the original TraceMe technology — a source TechCrunch.
The phrase “digital” was mentioned more than 40 times on (Nike’s) earnings call last month.Geekwire
TraceME raised at least $9 million from investors that included Bezos, YouTube founder Chad Hurley, Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai, and Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group. In 2017, TraceME was valued at $60 million, TechCrunch reported.
Other venture-backed sports media startups include The Players’ Tribune, founded by MLB legend Derek Jeter and Uninterrupted, founded by NBA superstar LeBron James. NFL quarterback Tom Brady and former lineman Michael Strahan raised VC money in 2019 for Religion of Sports.
“This deal opens up a different frontier for (Nike),” Ingrid Lunden wrote for Techcrunch. “It’s very rare for Nike to make an acquisition, but it makes sense that if it were going to do some M&A, it would be in the area of digital media.”