Updated: WePlay Inc., a New York-based online community for youth sports, has raised $4.4 million in Series A funding. Pequot Ventures provided $3.5 million, while the remainder came from Derek Jeter, LeBron James, Peyton Manning, weplay senior management and angel investor Ron Conway. The company had been inclubated by Creative Artists Agency and Major League Baseball.
weplay.com (http://www.weplay.com/), the ultimate online destination for the youth sports community, founded and incubated by CAA Sports, Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM), Pequot Ventures and CEO Steve Hansen, former COO of Geocities, today announced the closing of $4.4 million in Series A financing. Pequot Ventures led the round with $3.5 million, while the remainder was contributed by Derek Jeter, LeBron James, Peyton Manning, weplay senior management, and prominent angel investor Ron Conway. weplay was recently released into open beta.
“In the last ten years, the Internet has seen explosive growth in social media and social networking sites. What we set out to create was a site rich in social media tools, information and specific utility oriented toward a substantially underserved audience. It's staggering to realize that the youth sports market, comprising approximately 180 million people in the U.S. alone, is held together by clipboards and emails,” said Hansen. “weplay is a safe site for kids of all ages that will help them live healthier, more active lives and enhance their experiences. With the support of CAA Sports, MLBAM, Pequot Ventures and our founding athletes, weplay is well-positioned to successfully launch a comprehensive online environment that unites the youth sports community.”
Rick Heitzmann, Managing Director at Pequot Ventures, will continue to serve as the Chairman of weplay's Board of Directors. Heitzmann said, “weplay will fill a significant and unmet need in the youth sports community, offering a robust platform to unite and aggregate this large and dynamic market.”
The new venture combines the power of social networking, engaging content and extensive utilities to create a safe environment that connects, enables, and enhances the youth sports experience by serving the needs of parents, coaches and children, ages 6-16. The site will be supported by sponsorships and complementary advertisements. weplay's founding athletes have an equity stake in weplay and CAA Sports will offer all athletes on their roster the chance to be affiliated with the venture.
weplay is the ultimate destination for the youth sports community. Our mission is to enable and enhance the joy of sports for kids, families, coaches and fans both online and on the field. We take this mission seriously, and our site reflects this. We have created a platform that is fun, educational and safe, which will allow users to connect, share and learn.
weplay unites the youth sports community with weplay pros, iconic athletes who all played youth sports. They know firsthand what research confirms, that children learn valuable lessons by playing sports, including leadership, teamwork, perseverance, good sportsmanship and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
Using the latest multimedia technology, young athletes can create profiles, blogs and fan clubs, play games, connect with friends and create a highlight reel. Parents and coaches can also access practical information such as practice schedules and weather updates. weplay is fully customizable to the needs of each member and encourages children online to act and achieve offline.
weplay is backed by CAA Sports, a division of Creative Artists Agency, weplay partners also include Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Pequot Ventures and iconic athletes Derek Jeter, LeBron James, Peyton Manning, Tony Parker, Shaun Alexander and Jennie Finch.
We play…for the love of the game. Visit us at www.weplay.com
About CAA Sports
CAA Sports represents more than 500 of the world's best athletes, coaches, on-air broadcasters, and sports personalities, including the five most recent NFL MVPs, the 2007 NHL MVP, the MVP of the 2007 NBA Finals, the 2007 National League Rookie of the Year, and the two-time reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion. Beyond traditional athlete representation, CAA Sports provides unique opportunities for clients off the field, in areas including licensing, endorsements, speaking, philanthropy, and video games. CAA Sports also works in the areas of broadcast rights, corporate marketing initiatives, and sports properties for sales/sponsorship opportunities, and recently won the highly-coveted global partnership with the New York Yankees to bring to market a major long-term corporate sponsorship for the new Yankee Stadium. CAA Sports is a division of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), a talent and literary agency that represents the most creative and successful artists working in film, television, music, theatre, and video games, and provides a range of strategic marketing services to corporate clients.
Established in June 2000 following a unanimous vote by the 30 Major League Baseball club owners to centralize all of Baseball's Internet operations, MLB Advanced Media LP (MLBAM) is the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball. MLBAM manages the official league site, www.MLB.com, and each of the 30 individual Club sites to create the most comprehensive Major League Baseball resource on the Internet. MLB.com offers fans the most complete baseball information on the web, including up-to-date statistics, game summaries, extensive historical information, and exclusive features about Major League Baseball events and programs, including on-line ticket sales, baseball merchandise, authenticated memorabilia and collectibles, fantasy games, live and archived radio broadcasts of every game, live and archived video webcasts of entire games, pitch-by-pitch enactment of games, and hosted post-game video highlight shows. MLB.com offers more live events on the Internet than any other website in the world.
About Pequot Ventures
Pequot Capital Management, Inc. and Pequot Ventures, the New York City-based venture capital arm of Pequot Capital, recently announced that they have decided to separate their businesses, effective June 30, 2008. As part of the separation, the investment principals of Pequot Ventures will form a new firm, FirstMark Capital. FirstMark will assume the investment management operations of Pequot Ventures and, with investor approval, will take on the full responsibility for the assets currently under the management of Pequot Ventures. FirstMark Capital will continue to focus on investing in innovative market-leading technology companies. For more than a decade, Pequot Ventures has partnered with talented entrepreneurs and experienced managers to build market-leading enterprises. With nearly $2 billion in capital commitments, Pequot brings energy, insight and substantial sector expertise to create competitive, sustainable businesses and long-term value. Select investments include: Netgear, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTGR); First Advantage Corp. (NASDAQ: FADV); StubHub, Inc (Acquired by eBay, Inc.); Netegrity, Inc. (Acquired by CA Inc); Flarion, Inc. (Acquired by Qualcomm, Inc.); OutlookSoft Inc. (Acquired by SAP AG); Analex Corp. (Acquired by QinetiQ); Vallent (Acquired by IBM) and Syndesis (Acquired by Subex). For more information, please visit www.PequotVentures.com or www.FirstMarkCap.com.