Looking for way to make sure you don’t miss the most exciting moments in sports in real time?
Startup Buzzer has an app for that — and it just banked $20 million from a roster of investors that includes a bevy of sports and entertainment industry heavyweights.
Buzzer’s $20 million in Series A funding was led by existing investor Sapphire Sport and new investor Canaan Partners. The company said “substantial new investments” came from individuals from across sports, business and entertainment. The laundry list of backers includes: LaMelo Ball, Devin Booker, J. Cole, Wayne Gretzky, DeAndre Hopkins, Sabrina Ionescu, Michael Jordan, Patrick Mahomes, Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, Renee Montgomery, Naomi Osaka and Bobby Wagner. Also participating in the round were early investors including VC firm Lerer Hippeau and SoFi CEO Anthony Noto (former Twitter CFO).
The New York-based company was founded last year by Bo Han, who previously worked at Twitter for seven years, most recently heading up live sports rights acquisitions. Worth noting: Twitter’s app has the ability to alert users of live events they’ve chosen to follow.
According to Buzzer, its app provides “a seamless user and viewing experience” by aggregating live sports streaming rights and letting users to set up customized alerts based on their preferences. Buzzer’s current league partners include NBA League Pass, PGA Tour and NHL, and the company says it has more deals in the works.
“There’s nothing more exciting than a close game or buzzer beater — those are the moments we live for as players,” Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and Super Bowl LIV champion, said in a statement provided by the company. “Buzzer ensures fans never miss these moments in real-time and helps us make our connections with them stronger, especially with younger, mobile-first sports fans. I believe Buzzer represents the future of live sports and I’m thrilled to join them on their journey.”
Buzzer is currently in an “early access” release phase, available for download on iOS in Apple’s App Store and on Android in the Google Play store. For now, users who download can build profiles by selecting preferences for their favorite players, teams and leagues; they’re then added to a waitlist before they get full access to the app, at which point they are able to consume live content. The platform will officially launch later this year.
“We envision Buzzer becoming the discovery and curation tool that brings Gen Z fans back to live sports with simple access to ephemeral moments,” Han, founder and CEO of Buzzer, said in a statement. He touted his company’s “partner-first approach,” which he said will give leagues and other sports-rights holders new opportunities to reach new fans and generate new revenue streams.
Other investors in Buzzer include athletes Pat Connaughton, Madison Hammond, Scotty James, Christian McCaffrey and Apolo Ohno; team owners David Blitzer (New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia 76ers), GSW Sports Ventures (an affiliate of the Golden State Warriors), Steve Kaplan (D.C. United, Swansea City), Steve Koonin (Atlanta Hawks), Lerner Enterprises (Washington Nationals), Stephen Pagliuca (Boston Celtics), Michael Jordan and Curtis Polk (Charlotte Hornets, 23XI Racing), Steve Simon (Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever), Jeffrey Vinik (Tampa Bay Lightning) and WISE Ventures (shared ownership of Minnesota Vikings, Orlando City SC, Orlando Pride).
And there are more Buzzer investors: Ros Gold-Onwude, Ibrahim Hamad, Devin Johnson, Estee Portnoy and Taylor Rooks, and investment firms Black Capital, Chetrit Ventures, JDS Sports, Jump Capital, LionTree Partners, OneTeam Partners, Targa Partners, and Micromanagement Ventures (the fund of the late David Stern).
Buzzer’s Series A round comes after it raised $4 million in seed funding last year.
Co-lead investor Sapphire Sport, a fund of Sapphire Ventures, says its limited partners include City Football Group (owners of Manchester City), owners and investors from the NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA, NHL and MLS, and entertainment organizations, family offices and institutional investors. Canaan is an early-stage VC firm that boasts more than $5 billion under management.
With the funding, Sapphire Sport partner Michael Spirito is joining Buzzer’s board of directors. “Buzzer is addressing the biggest challenge facing the global sports industry, which is how to make live media rights more accessible and ultimately more valuable,” Spirito commented.