There’s big money in football (or “soccer” as some TC readers like to say). And so it follows that there’s money to be made in corresponding apps that let fans engross themselves with the beautiful game.
To that end, Berlin-headquartered The Football App has raised a further round of funding: $7 million led by New York-based Union Square Ventures (previous backer of big hits such as Twitter, Tumblr, Zynga, and Kickstarter), along with a number of unnamed angels. This adds to the $13 million it previously raised back in May in a round led by Berlin’s Earlybird Venture Capital. That’s a lot of funding in quite a short amount of time.
But, with traction going in the right direction — 10 million downloads across all mobile platforms since it launched in 2008, with 3 million of those added in the last 6 months — and a pretty hefty and well-funded competitor in the form of FTBpro, it’s clearly a sign of stepping on the gas in a bid to get way out in front.
The timing is significant, too. Next year is a World Cup year, an opportunity if there ever was one for a football app to pick up millions of new users quickly. In a statement, The Football App founder and CEO, Lucas von Cranach, makes the case: “Our goal is to double our user base after the 2014 World Cup by tapping into the 350 million people across the world who use their mobile devices to consume all things football”, he says, talking a good game in the best football tradition.
Specifically, The Football App says it will use the new funding to “continue to develop social aspects of the platform and bolster the company’s already rapid international growth.”
In fact, “social” appears to be viewed as the company’s path to growth — talking about football is a full time sport in itself after all — and it’s here that the link with Union Square Ventures comes into full focus. The VC firm has previously backed social darlings Twitter, Foursquare, and Tumblr, so has the experience needed to help grow a social entity to the scale that the Berlin startup and its backers are clearly gunning for.
Earlier this month, The Football App introduced a new ‘Fan Zone’ that integrates live commentary from social feeds, alongside professional media content, around any match, news story, or development from the world of football.
On the surface, it resembles the functionality of something like Fanatix.
In addition, by incorporating more User-Generated Content, the company is certainly strengthening its hand against rival FTBpro, which in May raised $5.8 million from Battery Ventures and Gemini Israel Ventures to fund its own global expansion.
Bring on next Summer, World Cup 2014 just got even more interesting.