Billed as the web’s “largest almanac of pro and college athletes, built entirely by fans”, Fanbase is today launching its directory of all things sports to the world after 18 months of work and a few months of public beta. Backed by $5 million in venture capital from Benchmark, Fanbase’s aim is to mobilize and unite fans around pages of any athlete or sports team at any level.
In its limited public beta period, Fanbase has already attracted over 500,000 users who have made more than 60,000 contributions according to the company website, which also reveals that there are currently over 1.7 million athletes and 20,000 teams in the directory.
Fanbase hopes that, next to visitors, current and former athletes will contribute photos, videos, articles, roster and schedule information, upload commentary and correct inaccuracies, just as enthusiasts provide much of the information in Wikipedia and IMDB. Currently, 23 sports are supported – from softball to lacrosse to ice hockey – but the startup seeks to expand over the next few months to include individual sports like tennis and golf. Fanbase is also notably launching just in time for the fall sports season.
The startup was co-founded by Nirav Tolia, a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur who led product review site Epinions (later Shopping.com) during the last Internet boom and ultimately sold the business to eBay. But not without heaps of controversy. As the NYTimes points out:
Mr. Tolia left Epinions in 2004 after misrepresenting his work and educational history on his résumé. Several of the Epinions co-founders sued Mr. Tolia, his fellow board members and the company’s investors, asserting that they had deprived them of stock. EBay later settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed sum.
You have to respect Benchmark Capital partner Bill Gurley’s opinion on the whole thing: “I don’t want to measure a man by one event when I’ve seen a hundred others,” he told The New York Times.
We’ll be right here measuring Fanbase too.