Saturday, April 04, 2009

Selling Sportingo

It is Saturday night and I wanted to share with all of you the latest news about the sale of our sites, Sportingo, Caughtoffside and Getsport.
In the past few months it become clear that with the current business climate our best chance to succeed would be by joining forces with another company. We are very fortunate to have met the folks at Tixtaq who are building a fantastic business and share a lot of the same values that we at Sportingo do. Combining the audience and platform from our sites with the innovative ticketing information and services at Tixtaq creates a much stronger company.
As much as I am pleased with the outcome of our transaction I am writing this post with mixed feelings. We started Sportingo three years ago. Build a fantastic team and created something new which touched the lives of millions of sport fans around the world and gave hundreds of you the chance to express your passion about sports. As CEO and co-founder I do feel that three years was not enough to reach all of my goals and that I wish I had the opportunity to realize the full dream that drives the process of starting a new venture.

I can’t help but think about what must be going on at Twitter these days. They have build a phenomenal business and it is rumors that after three years are being offered a fantastic amount of money to sell the company. No matter how much money is on the line, I am sure the founders will have some regret if they sell. A part of them would have wished to see the journey through, in a way they would never be able to as part of Google or Microsoft. I don’t know any entrepreneur that started his/ her business simply to make money. Don’t get me wrong, the financial return is very important to all of us, but is never the reason you start your venture. Ventures are created because you just need to make it happen, check what if? Spend sleepless nights trying to figure out how the world should work, or get carried away by someone’s vision or technology.

This urge to figure things out and come up with a new product or service is to my view at the core of any type of new beginnings. For me the sale of Sportingo will close another cycle in my life. I was fortunate to meet and work with extraordinary people during my journey and wanted to thank all of you for your hard work. Oleg, Hadassa, Phil, Donna, Mark A, Mark R, Gabriela, Yaniv, Yoram, Udi, Derek, Mick, Chris, Tal R, Tal B, Nick, Dean, Matt, Dave, Michelle, Avi, Ori, Aya, Ilana, Itzik, Natalie, Uzi, Shai, Boaz and the rest of the people who helped along the way, thank you for your contribution over the past three years.

I will most likely be closing down my blog, if you want to stay in touch or have an interesting opportunity for me to consider you can follow me on Twitter zrozov .

Friday, June 13, 2008

New life

It has been a very busy week in my life and the life of Sportingo. On Monday night my third son was born. He is a very sweet boy and we now just have to wait until he learns that he is suppose to sleep at night.

On Wednesday we went live with the much anticipated new version of Sportingo. In addition to a brand new design and improvement in functionality we have also introduced the very early stages of what we believe will become a hit service among sport fans Sportingo Buzz. Buzz is a service that aggregates threads from top forums around the web and allows fans to have a look at what other fans are talking about. I have enjoyed finding out what Chelsea fans think about their new manager or tracking the latest conversations about the transfer market.

We also separated our online media guide into a proper site and have loads more coming on the new site in the next few months.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Site stats

I have stayed away from the subject of site statistics for some time now but thought there were a few interesting numbers I could share.

Last week I spoke at a seminar about sport rights for my presentation I run a search on the most popular events viewed on our media guide.

The results were fascinating

The most popular event on Whatsonline this year was the Joe Calzaghe fight. Second most popular was the Australian F1 race. The rest of the list is mostly football matches with two surprising entries. At number five cane the IIHF World Championship in Russia and at number nine the European Weightlifting championships. These numbers are far from scientific but show that a niche sport can have a sizeable audience online as they opportunity for watching that sport on TV is limited.

One last statistic I would like to share is that we finally broke the 100,000 daily visitors mark. Congratulations to the team for a marvelous effort, any bets on when we will hit the 1,000,000 mark?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Red Herring

I am on my way back from the Red Herring Europe conference in Malta. Sportingo was short listed as a finalist at the event which was a nice honor and I got a chance to present the company. Overall the conference did not seem to attract as much as an audience as it did last year. I am not sure if it was due to the location or a change, marketing of the event or a change in the industry. Bret Hoffman the founder of MyDeco gave a very interesting presentation about his new venture and some key learning from his past at . If he succeeds in his goal MyDeco will become a very important company and the site is worth while visiting although I feel that it still lucks focus and seems to just have to many different features in it.

There seemed to be a lot of companies in the mobile space all talking about better browser experience the shift introduced by the iPhone and social networking. I still find my Blackberry very limiting in surfing the web and that most of my surfing is to find sport scores, weather and check that the Sportingo site has not crushed. There are clear advances in mobile technology which will offer a lot more to users from location based services to better data transfer using Wifi etc I am just still not convinced how quickly they will be adopted by the majority of the market place.

On a separate note we launched a beta of our new site redesign this week. Please visit the site and send us your feedback. We still have a lot of fixing to do but wanted to share it with our audience sooner then later and get feedback on the layout and functionality. More about the beta and site redesign in my next post.

Friday, April 11, 2008

New Partnerships

In the past few weeks we launched a couple of interesting new partnerships. The first with the BBC which now includes links to What’s Online from its sport pages. The second new partnership is with Virgin Media which now encourages its users to sign up and write about sports through Sportingo. Virgin has been at the forth front on sport and Internet in the past year. They acquired the rights to broadcast highlights of the Premier League over the Internet then introduced a very bold new design to their website. We are very pleased to be associated with Virgin as they lead the way in getting more fan participation on their website.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Israel Web Tour

I am at SFO on my back from the Israel Web Tour and wanted to share some observation of the week. The tour brought together 15 “promising” Israeli web start ups for meetings with leading silicon valley companies, investors etc. For me the tour was about evaluating how should Sportingo approach the US market. Since founding the company we have focused on the UK and European markets and in 2008 we are thinking about how to approach the North American market (more on this subject on some future post).
A few observations from the visit. Yahoo Microsoft merger will go on but most people think it will fail and will distract both companies for the next couple of years. I heard some VCs stating they are telling their companies to look at ways to exploit vulnerabilities in both companies since this is the time to make an impact. There is also a feeling this will not be good for the market as it will leave Google as the only real acquisition option for many companies. Lots of question marks about the future of Facebook and the quality of its platform. My view is that if they are able to execute on their vision of a social utility they will prove everyone wrong but this is going to be much harder then building the social network which they have done so well.
As someone who spent four years in the bay area in the 2000-2003 I felt that the tour did not give us enough insight to the true culture of the valley and what it means be a successful entrepreneur building a company in Palo Alto vr Herzeliya. The cultural difference is something that is very hard to understand without spending a lot of time close to it. We all tend to view the world through our own point of view and it is to easy to just “not get” why Myspace, Facebook, twitter etc work so well and claim it is just because we are of a different age group.
The only session which truly addressed the culture of silicon valley was an interview with Sarah Lacy. She is about to publish a book “Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0” in which she follows some of the top entrepreneurs in the valley of the past 10 years. Her remarks about the industry were insightful and I am sure the book will be a very good read for any entrepreneur around the world who wishes to understand the key drivers for success in the most competitive market in the world.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Thoughts about the Super Bowl

I am in California for the Israelweb Tour. In between meetings I wanted to share some thoughts about yesterday’s Super ball. I am not a huge American Football fan and did not watch all of the game but was fortunate enough to watch the four quarter of the game. What I found so fascinating was the pressure and volatility of the game. The two moments which were the most powerful for me in the game illustrate what is so great about sport and why so many of us are passionate about it.
The first was Eli Manning making a great pass that gave him a much needed first down which then lead to the touchdown. The second was the last moment through Tom Brady that almost made an impossible come back and last second touchdown.
What made these two moments so special was how close the were yet ended in completely different results. Manning pass was almost dropped (sorry I could not find the name of the person that caught it) while Brady’s pass was an inch away from being caught. Image how different today’s headlines would read today with only a few inches making the difference between winning or loosing the most watched sport event of the year.