Nike, a multinational shoe brand, has acquired TraceMe, a startup founded by the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson. The price of the deal, which was first reported by TechCrunch and independently confirmed by Crunchbase News, was undisclosed.
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TraceMe was founded in 2017 and relatively resembled Cameo with its focus on personalized content from celebrities. In TraceMe’s case, the content would exclusively be from star athletes to engage with superfans. It raised $9 million in funding from investors like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, YouTube CEO and co-founder Chad Hurley, and more. Wilson is the executive chairman, per Crunchbase.
Then, the company pivoted to Tally, which offers an online engagement platform for sports fans to make live predictions in real time sports. Users can vote on questions like “How many runs are scored in this full inning” or “which goalie is the first to get three saves?” through the app. There are also real-time prediction feeds where users can broadcast their own thoughts to a fan base.
While Nike did not immediately respond for comment, GeekWire reports, based on sources, that Nike “was interested in original TraceMe technology.” It’s unclear what and if Nike will use TraceMe’s technology.
Implications For Nike
Regardless of the technology, the acquisition broadly signals that we could see Nike more aggressively tackling the intersections of editorial content, fan engagement, and technology.
This acquisition, which Wilson tweeted out with a ‘Just Do It’ nod to the parent brand, is part of Nike’s broader M&A efforts.
According to its Crunchbase profile, Nike has acquired nine companies to date. TraceMe is its second of 2019. The first was Celect, a Boston-based startup that helps retailers optimize their inventory across various stages of the supply chain.
Despite how this translates on the street level for Nike, from the balcony we see the current appetite of the mega sports company looking a bit more tech than it did in the early 2000s, in a world where fans are able to stay engaged through feeds, leagues, and apps.
For Nike, this growing trend looks less like brand acquisitions and more like tech, fan-friendly organizations that it can position atop of its core Nike business.