Monday, August 24, 2009

Fanbase Launches With Some Fanfare, $5M
(Verdict: Unimpressed. Where's the Need?)

Quick take on Fanbase: If VCs are handing out $5 million investments (and the New York Times dishing out plum features) for an idea that is basically the Nth version of "Wikipedia for sports!" I would like to know where I might send my pitch for my own derivative product.

As a consumer, I'm just not seeing how this target of content -- all teams ever! all players ever!-- is being underserved by Wikipedia, the dominant player. And as a potential content producer, Wikipedia offers no barrier to entry to create a page on even the most obscure team or player.

(Few other thoughts: (1) If there is going to be a non-Wikipedia standard in sports information, it will come through ESPN-DB. (2) Allowing users to post YouTube clips is a recipe for the leagues to demand they are taken down, leaving you with non-working links. (3) Ummm: Is there a revenue model?)

-- D.S.


PPP said...

They call hockey "ice hockey"?

Oh brother.

Nirav Tolia said...

Hi Dan,

Thanks for your thoughts on Fanbase. We always appreciate the feedback.

However, we don't agree that Fanbase is a derivative product, primarily because of its truly comprehensive nature.

I'll illustrate by comparing to Wikipedia and ESPN-DB (both of which are excellent resources).

Wikipedia does not cover near the number of athletes as Fanbase does due to its rules around notability ( We don't debate inclusionism vs deletism – our goal is to cover ALL athletes at all levels of play.

ESPN-DB is constructed of the top-rate editorial content that has been produced by ESPN writers, editors, and statisticians. Fanbase is driven entirely by users – and thus can use the power of a passionate community to drive a greater depth and breadth of content.

Ultimately, of course, users will determine if Fanbase is successful. We launched the site publicly on August 24th and have spent no money on advertising or marketing. Yet in September alone we will exceed 750k unique visitors and user contributions – an even more critical metric – have already exceeded 60k.

There is obviously a long way to go (including building the right revenue model), but such is the life of a startup and we plan to give it everything we have.

Hope you will check out the site again in a few months and let us know what you think.


Nirav Tolia
Co-founder and CEO, Fanbase

P.S. One last point: following on the theme of comprehensiveness, the reason we use the term "ice hockey" is because we also cover "field hockey" on the site – as well as 21 other sports (and many more to come).