Reddit Inc. co-founder Alexis Ohanian is betting that the world of soccer scouting is an industry ripe for disruption.
The tech entrepreneur is an key investor in Gloria, an app that looks to ease soccer scouting by providing a platform where players in remote areas can submit standardized material and get noticed in the industry. The app, created by two Argentine entrepreneurs based in Silicon Valley, is set to launch its beta version on Monday in Buenos Aires.
“We’re launching in Argentina because the best soccer in the world is here and there’s a huge market,” said Victoire Cogevina, one of the co-founders and a former sports agent, in an interview in Buenos Aires. It’s also “good business,” she said. After the Argentine peso plunged 37 per cent this year, the cost of acquiring online users is 20 cents on the dollar, down from US$5 in the U.S.
The company is starting with a partnership with Argentina’s Superliga, which encompasses 24 clubs including legendary Boca Juniors and River Plate. Germany and Spain are the next targets for the venture, Cogevina said. To make money, the app may charge users for premium features and offer sports-related advertising. The product also will allow nonplayers to participate through a community feature — an effort supported by Ohanian, who will take a board seat once it’s set up.
“Over half of the world’s population is a fan of football, so the market is obviously massive,” Ohanian said in a statement. “The promise of this app isn’t just to entertain football fans, but to also surface the next generation of talent -- male or female, no matter their connections or economic conditions.”
The company is aiming to hold a seed round in two months and a Series A very soon after. It’s currently valued at US$10 million. Other heavyweight backers are Assia Grazioli-Venier, who sits on the board of Italian football club Juventus and was a senior adviser to Spotify; Verizon Media head Guru Gowrappan; and Rakuten board member Razmig Hovaghimian.
Financial tech has been one of few bright spots in Argentina after a currency crisis that led the government to take a record $56 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. Last week, mobile-payments app Ualá announced a US$150-million investment led by Tencent Holdings Ltd. and SoftBank Group Corp.
“At a crucial moment in the country’s history, we’re bringing money from outside,” Cogevina said. Investors “are betting on Argentina in a difficult time, and they bet on Argentina via soccer. That’s a message that brings a lot of hope.”