In both sports and the tech industry, you win some and you lose some. Even though OnSports chief executive Aaron Krane got a nasty black eye this week in a pick-up basketball game, his company just closed a $2 million round led by Mike Maples’ Floodgate fund.
The company, also known as Hitpost, makes this mobile app OnSports which has live discussions, polls and news about sports. It’s aiming to be the destination where sports fans can chatter or rage about their most-loved or hated teams and players. The app has more than 1 million downloads on Google Play and something less than that on iOS. While Krane didn’t share stats on active usage, he did say that there are “tens of thousands” of discussions and votes per day.
Krane, who used to work at the social gaming company that Google acquired called Slide, says there is an unexploited sweet spot in between freemium games like Zynga Poker and sports media. OnSports recently launched a better way for fans to create polls and stories about sports.
I think the picture to the right gives a little bit of a hint about where this could go. Krane says the number of bets users are making with virtual currency in the app is growing by 20 percent day over day.
Without revealing too many specifics, he said, “You could leverage the same viral distribution and monetization mechanics that are used by successful social games.”
Krane says OnSports takes advantage of the fact that there hasn’t been enough innovation in sports media over the last few years. Bleacher Report and SB Nation’s owner Vox Media definitely stand out, but they aren’t as focused on mobile platforms and social features, Krane said.
Ironically, Krane says he’s not really into watching sports. But he loves the game around it. As a kid, he spent most of his extra money on trading cards.
“I once got to fist-pound LeBron James,” he said.
With the funding, OnSports will raise its headcount by adding a few more engineers. The company has seven employees and previously raised $1.1 million from angel investors including Square chief operating officer Keith Rabois, San Francisco 49-ers president and former YouTube and Facebook chief financial officer Gideon Yu and Angellist co-founder Naval Ravikant.
He said he went with Floodgate because Maples’ vision of “Thunder Lizards” or small startups with disproportionate impact really clicked with him.
“We identified him from the outset,” Krane said. “He was the perfect match.”