Friday, November 12, 2010

Start-Up Watch: NumberFire, StatSheet

Intersecting my enthusiasm for sports, sports media and start-ups, let me briefly point you to two things from today:

*NUMBERFIRE: In the New York Times' Fifth Down blog today, they had a post about accuracy by leading fantasy football prediction systems (Yahoo, ESPN, CBS). I really recommend you check out the phenomenal little product numberFire (developed by a really smart guy named Nik Bonaddio), which has been out-performing the big boys all season long. And yet, numberFire was mentioned nowhere in the NYT blog post -- a gross oversight on the one hand, but to your benefit on the other, because if you know about numberFire, that means your league competitors do not.

*STATSHEET: Expert reporters and columnists? Fan-generated content? StatSheet -- out of NC and backed by $1.7M in investor funding -- is going another direction, building on massive volumes of data to construct -- automatically -- web sites, daily content and even game recaps for every team in every sport. (Start with their offerings on 345+ college basketball teams, an effort launched today.) The content reads a little stilted, but that strikes me as a solvable technology problem.

The product obviously scales -- and with all those pages (not to mention Twitter feeds), they will be readily available in Google searches. The question is whether fans of each team would turn to an automated system when there is so much content for each team produced qualitatively, by editors and writers. So as destinations unto themselves? Unclear. As a white-label supplement to larger publishers? Interesting. The point is that the company is being extremely creative in their approach, and nimble application of data is a huge deal. Companies playing in "Big Data" has huge potential in sports media.

*Unrelated to sports, a happy 10th anniversary to Josh Marshall and Talking Points Memo, which launched 10 years ago today. TPM remains one of my favorite companies of all time -- and a gold standard by which all media should be judged, both for its editorial quality and the fact that TPM was built from scratch for the online age and has, since, remained fiercely independent (and very successful). It's a hell of a milestone.

*Also unrelated to sports, there is a profile in the New York Times of Andrew Krucoff and Young Manhattanite. Old-school readers might remember this long-ago interview I did with Krucoff in his Young Manhattanite interview series. (It was back in 2004 -- a good two years before the blog launched. And check out the photo, which actually comes up regularly when folks do Google Image searches looking for a photo of me to use alongside coverage. I just read back the interview -- cripes, I used to be a lot more amusing.)

*Next week is the annual Sports Media and Technology conference in NYC. I can remember sneaking into the very first one; 12 years later, I'll be blogging a bit for Darren Rovell's CNBC blog -- media and tech a bit more in my wheelhouse than my last CNBC guest-blogging, about the sponsorship landscape -- not to mention talking with folks about the company I'm building. Should be fun. Time to dive back into development....

-- D.S.

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