Tennis Australia’s new venture capital arm follows NFL lead – Sportico.com

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At the start of the Australian Open, SwingVision, a real-time video analysis tool, will replay some of the tournament’s best matches and highlight its most unforgettable moments using artificial intelligence technology created by a former Tesla engineer.

SwingVision’s presence on the ground is no accident. The company is the first investment from Wildcard Ventures, the venture capital arm of Tennis Australia, the sport’s national governing body.

Led by two industry veterans, Machar Reid and Todd Deacon, Wildcard Ventures launched operations a few months ago and has already raised millions for startups.

Tennis Australia is catching up with a trend among sports teams and leagues. Ten years ago, the NFL created 32 Equity, a venture capital fund designed to provide new revenue streams for the league. FC Barcelona, ​​the Los Angeles Dodgers and, more recently, the Minnesota Twins have followed suit.

“Essentially we’re using the leverage we have as a company to propel start-ups to success, but at the same time we’re getting some of the business upside,” Reid said. Sportico.

Their syndicate fund is designed to connect emerging sports and entertainment technology startups with high net worth individuals in the world of tennis.

“It’s not a pre-committed fund,” Reid said. “We didn’t go to the market and raise $30, $100, or $250 million. What we have done is basically tell the tennis family and wealthy individuals that we are able to offer some really great and hopefully lucrative opportunities on a case-by-case basis.

The fund for SwingVision has participation from Techstars, Amino Capital, Strava CFO Jason Liu and MyFitnessPal co-founders Albert and Mike Lee. Former tennis players Andy Roddick and James Blake were the first investors in the project. Founded by former Tesla engineer Swupnil Sahai and Berkeley data science professor Richard Hsu, SwingVision raised $2 million in its funding round.

“We are basically committing money to Tennis Australia, but at the same time we are providing the opportunity to limited partners outside,” Reid said. “We wondered if this project could succeed without us? Yes, we believe it is possible. Will they succeed faster if we are involved? Yes, we believe that can happen too.

SwingVision has already surpassed $250,000 in quarterly revenue in 2021. While the United States accounts for 45% of its subscriber base, the company has customers around the world. The real-time AI video analytics tool comes with a subscription that costs $149.99 per year. Currently, 3,000 coaches working under the Tennis Australia umbrella are using technology to train players. Reid aims to find more opportunities to integrate the tool throughout the year in different tournaments for player development.

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