StatMuse Secures $10M for Its Graphic, AI-Powered Sports Statistics Search Engine

The sport industry is centered around statistics, whether they are used by athletes to enhance their performance or by enthusiasts for recreational or commercial purposes. Now, a firm that makes it simpler for common people to analyze and visualize sports statistics has received funds to expand. A $10 million fundraising round has been secured by San Francisco-based firm StatMuse, which enables users to search for basketball facts and statistics using “natural” language queries. The company plans to expand into other sports and provide services beyond basic statistics.

The Walt Disney Company, TechStars (of which StatMuse was a part of a 2015 cohort in the Disney/TechStars Accelerator), Allen & Company, Greycroft Partners, Promus Ventures, Haas Portman, Deep Fork Capital, and Bee Partners are the investors in the Series A. Several well-known figures from the sports industry also contributed to the round, including United Talent Agency and former NBA commissioner David Stern.

Disney’s involvement in StatMuse is strategic: following the public beta launch in the fall of 2015, StatMuse inked a content agreement with Disney-owned ESPN to supply statistical content for the 2015–16 NBA season. This content appears to be utilized on TV, social media, and online.

With the money, StatMuse, which is still in beta, plans to expand its search engine beyond basketball into other sports.

The concept behind StatMuse is not unique: while there are many strong search algorithms available today, many of the more sophisticated ones are designed in a way that is more appropriate for data scientists than for average people, rendering them unavailable to regular people.

StatMuse Secures $10M for Its Graphic

Simultaneously, several advancements in big data, machine learning, and natural language processing are enabling non-technical users—such as marketers or other business associates—to leverage greater analytics capabilities by enabling them to create their own analytical queries.

Childhood friends Eli Dawson (CEO) and Adam Elmore (CTO), who co-captained their high school basketball team, saw an opportunity to apply that principle to the world of sports statistics and capitalize on the general desire to not only look up facts but also view them in an interesting and visually appealing way. This led to the founding of StatMuse.

“We developed a tool for other sports enthusiasts who enjoy visual media and data. Dawson said in a statement, “StatMuse is our idea for a highly engaging media platform that inspires sports discussion anywhere in the world.

These days, you may search for a wide variety of basketball statistics on the StatMuse website, with a fairly flexible query set. I searched for “players named Larry” so that I could sort them based on other criteria, such as minutes played or points scored. (You may not be surprised to learn that Larry Bird is the current basketball Larry royalty.)

After that, you may post the content to Facebook, Twitter, or a StatMuse-exclusive social network. Additionally, the website allows you to follow and be followed by users, creating the framework for a possible sports fan community that might use whatever other tools StatMuse decides to release in the future.

I’m reminded a little bit of other services like Graphiq or Tableau, which similarly allow you to search for patterns and data and then visualize it. But whereas websites such as Graphiq today appear to be primarily focused on a business-to-business model, attracting publishers as clients (disclaimer: TC/AOL are among them), StatMuse may be exploring both a business-to-business (due to its agreement with Disney/ESPN) and a consumer angle, with a particular emphasis on the chance to offer improved sports statistics.

Apart from what you see when your search results are returned to you, there isn’t really much of a narrative to be gleaned from the stats today. However, the long-term objective appears to be developing products that will give those stats even more context, or at the very least collaborating with partners like ESPN who will provide that context alongside StatMuse’s raw numbers.

David Stern said in a statement, “Sports is, by itself, the international language, but StatMuse has taken a giant leap forward, transforming sports statistics into meaningful, storytelling prose.”

Disney’s interest in the firm is not surprising, as it is a pure content play.

Disney is a traditional media firm that was founded on television and motion pictures, but in order to ensure that its business grows, it is making every effort to embrace the emergence of digital platforms.

This includes investments in hardware businesses like Sphero, the maker of the BB-8, acquisitions like the allegedly $1 billion purchase of Maker Studios in 2014, and running its incubator in partnership with TechStars.

However, considering the obvious evidence that sports statistics can bring in large sums of money, this may lead to further chances for StatMuse in the future beyond simple content.

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