Editor’s Note: This is a repost of a TechCrunch article by Christine Magee.
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, technology is transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams.
With all of this momentum VCs are swinging for the fences. Investors have spent over $1 billion in venture deals for sports-related startups over the past year — and everyone wants in on the action.
Last week, the LA Dodgers launched the Dodgers Accelerator, a 12-week program in partnership with R/GA that will kick off this summer. They’re looking for startups “at the intersection of sports, technology and entertainment” — an intentionally ambiguous definition, according to Stephen Plumlee, Managing Partner of R/GA Ventures.
“That includes everything from fan engagement, to smart venues, to sports performance, to youth sports. And things like VR content and virtual season tickets, too,” says Plumlee.
The technology the Dodgers use is by no means revolutionary from a Silicon Valley perspective. Until now, the team’s technological claim to fame was installing MLB’s largest wi-fi system in Dodger Stadium for the 2013 season.
Now they’re looking to position themselves at the forefront of sports tech innovation through the accelerator program; which Dodgers CFO Tucker Kain says the club decided to launch after noticing an influx of capital and activity in the space.
The numbers back him up. Venture funding for sports tech startups hit an all-time high of $927 million in 2014, growing nearly 30% year over year since 2012. In the first few weeks of April alone, investors committed $151 million in venture funding for sports tech companies — that’s over half the quarterly funding high of $299 million, recorded in Q3 of last year.