Home / Gaming / Athlane looks to connect brands and esports streamers with a fresh $3.3 million in funding

Athlane looks to connect brands and esports streamers with a fresh $3.3 million in funding


Athlane looks to connect brands and esports streamers with a fresh $3.3 million in funding – TechCrunch

Athlane, the YC-backed company from the Summer ’19 cohort, is today ready to launch with a fresh $3.3 million in capital. Investors include Y Combinator, Jonathan Kraft (New England Patriots), Michael Gordon (President of Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club), Global Founders Capital, Romulus Capital, Seabed VC and more.

The startup originally positioned itself as the “NCAA of esports” but, after some time in stealth, has taken a new approach. Athlane is looking to be the connective fiber between streamers and brands, facilitating sponsorship and endorsement deals with more transparent data and analytics and a streamlined communications flow.

Athlane has products for both brands and streamers.

Brands can use the Athlane Terminal to manage their sponsorships. The Insights Hub uses proprietary data to help brands understand which streamers are followed by their target demographic, and whether or not the products will resonate with that fan base. Insights also allow brands to see when a streamer’s viewership is growing.

From there, brands can send out sponsorship deals to streamers directly through the Athlane Terminal, and then track the ROI on that sponsorship deal throughout the campaign.

On the streamer side, the company has built out a platform called Athlane Pro, which lets streamers manage each task from their sponsors individually. Streamers can also use Athlane Pro to counter-offer inbound sponsorship deals or negotiate terms.

Streamers can also use Athlane’s machine learning algorithm to get clearer insights on their stream performance, such as whether their YouTube viewership overlaps with their Twitch viewership, or see which videos do better based on title or thumbnail. But more importantly, the Athlane Content Hub gives streamers the opportunity to understand if their fan base specifically aligns with this or that brand, and gives them the tools to reach out directly to that brand to solicit a sponsorship.

Athlane has also built out a Shop tool that lets streamers build out a no-code storefront for their fans, which they can link to on their Twitch, Twitter, Instagram, etc. This storefront can be a repository for all the products that streamer is endorsing, allowing fans to see products from multiple brands in a single place.

“We have a number of proprietary partnerships with data providers including companies like Twitter,” said co-founder Faisal Younus. “For example, we have a partnership with the leading manufacturer of apparel in esports, which ties back into our system so we can look at how merchandise is moving.”

That data, when paired with the data provided when a streamer signs in and integrates with the platform, becomes very precise, according to the company.

The startup charges brands using a tiered SaaS model, and streamers can do their first sponsorship for free on the platform. After the first sponsorship, streamers are charged a fee between $10 and $20 per deal. Athlane has also started working with agencies that represent brands and charges a discovery fee for talent those agencies find on the platform.

“COVID-19 has brought on very rapid growth on the viewership side, and because of that we’ve seen an intense interest from a number of brands while conventional entertainment is shut down,” said Younus. “A lot of media spend is going to go unspent, but there is also a higher risk appetite for spending a little bit in esports, and our challenge is making sure this industry growth is sustained.”

He added that helping brands understand the true ROI of that spend will be key.

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do investors bidding up tech shares know that the rest of us don’t?”,”content”:{“rendered”:”

The biggest story to come out of the post-March stock market boom has been explosive growth in the value of technology shares. Software companies in particular have seen their fortunes recover; since March lows, public software companies’ valuations have more than doubled, according to one basket of SaaS and cloud stocks compiled by a Silicon Valley venture capital firm.n

Such gains are good news for startups of all sizes. For later-stage upstarts, software share appreciation helps provide a welcoming public market for exits. And, strong public valuations can help guide private dollars into related startups, keeping the capital flowing.n


n

The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. You can read it every morning on Extra Crunch, and now you can receive it in your inbox. Sign up for The Exchange newsletter, which drops every Friday starting July 24.n


n

For software-focused startup companies, especially those pursuing recurring revenue models like SaaS, it’s a surprisingly good time to be alive.n

""Indeed, after COVID-19 hit the United States, layoffs and rising software sales churn were key, worrying indicators coming out of startup-land. Since then, the data has turned around.n

As TechCrunch reported in June, startup layoffs have declined and software churn has recovered to the point that business and enterprise-focused SaaS companies are on the bounce.n

But instead of merely recovering to near pre-COVID levels, software stocks have continued to rise. Indeed, the Bessemer Cloud Index (EMCLOUD), which tracks SaaS firms, has set an array of all-time highs in recent weeks.n

There’s some logic to the rally. After speaking to venture capitalists over the past few weeks, notes from EQT Ventures‘ Alastair Mitchell, Sapphire’s Jai Das, and Shomik Ghosh from Boldstart Ventures paint the picture of a possibly accelerating digital transformation for some software companies, nudged forward by COVID-19 and its related impacts.n

The result of the trend may be that the total addressable market (TAM) for software itself is larger than previously anticipated. Larger TAM could mean bigger future sales for and more substantial future cash flows for some software companies. This argument helps explain part of the market’s present-day enthusiasm for public tech equities, and especially the shares of software companies.n

We won’t be able explain every point that Nasdaq has gained. But the TAM argument is worth understanding if we want to grok a good portion of the optimism that is helping drive tech valuations, both private and public.



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