Bain Tech Opportunities backs Hudl as covid-19 boosts online sports engagement

Hudl, a provider of video analysis and scouting software technology for sports, represents the second deal of 2020 for Bain's tech-focused growth equity arm.

Bain Capital Tech Opportunities is betting on the rise of online engagement in sports through its investment in Hudl, Philip Meicler, managing director at the firm, told PE Hub.

Hudl, a provider of video analysis and scouting software and technology for sports, represents the second deal of 2020 for Bain’s tech-focused growth equity arm.

With a media library including over one billion videos, Hudl’s database and analytics platform collects videos of games from multiple users and devices.

A valuable tool for sports coaches and athletes, Hudl enables users to break down the competition, tag players and analyze game performance. It also serves as a critical tool to improve teams’ competitive positions and helps coaches scout for new talent, Meicler explained.

“You are then able to look at your opponents’ game footage and game plan as a team and come up with your competitive strategy, and all of it is done on the Hudl platform,” the investor said. “So it’s really mission critical to how teams operate and drive insights for their practices and games.”

Based in Lincoln, Nebraska, Hudl employees 2,200 people globally and operates across a wide range of high school sports, college sports and professional sports. It is offered as an annual subscription service.

Meicler said the company has been on Bain’s radar for a long time, characterizing Hudl as a natural fit with its Tech Opportunities’ investment theme – backing mission-critical vertical software.

Despite a number of sporting events and competitions being canceled in light of covid-19, Hudl has seen its engagement grow, Meicler said.

In the US, Hudl has seen a 30 percent uptick in the number of highlight videos that American football athletes are creating to reach scouts. In overall video sharing, a 125 percent increase has been seen, the company said.

“Even if sports aren’t played, coaches and recruiters are using the platform not only to communicate, but also as a way to break down the performance of athletes and to prepare for the new season,” he said. “Because of the impact of social distancing, the recruiting feature and engagement across the recruiting on Hudl has been very strong as teams that are recruiting have not been able to travel.”

Working on and closing the deal in the current environment has been “very smooth,” the investor said.

“Almost all of our work was done remotely [on that deal],” Meicler said. “There is efficiency in that in terms of being able to schedule a conference call and not spend any time traveling, so both you and the management team can be very efficient … I think we’ve got as good, if not better, access than I’ve seen in many processes.”

According to the investor, having a multi-year relationship with the management team gave it even greater confidence to move quickly on the transaction.

For Bain Tech Opportunities, Hudl follows its April investment in BioCatch, a behavioral biometrics provider, and its December deal for Cloud Guru, a DevOps cloud-based training platform.

Bain Capital Tech Opportunities is set to raise $1.1 billion to invest in growth-stage and mid-market technology companies, Buyouts reported in October.

Action Item: Read Buyouts’ interview with Bain’s Darren Abrahamson on investing in downturn.