SBD/December 11, 2012/Franchises

49ers Hiring Silicon Valley Veterans; Synergy Building Between Business, Football Operations



Yu has led efforts to bring tech veterans to the team's exec offices
The 49ers in the last few months have “developed a more aggressive approach to tapping into the tech industry's best minds: They've started hiring them,” according to Kevin Clark of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Led by team President & co-Owner Gideon Yu, the 49ers have been “quietly plucking from the neighboring tech world to fill their top jobs.” The “nucleus of tech veterans in the team's executive offices focuses on everything from streamlining the draft scouting process to finding out how fans in different parts of the stadium can organize chants with their smartphones.” 49ers CEO Jed York said that there is a “level of interaction between the business executives and football staff that he doesn't believe exists in most places.” Still, Clark writes it is “too early to tell how the innovations will show on the field, since many of the new employees started in the last few months.” But most members of the organization said that the '13 NFL Draft “will be the first football event where their advancements will really take hold.” The plan for the draft, "at least for now, is to create a centralized database for scouting information that's available to anyone in the organization and is easier to digest.” Yu has said that in the future, it is “possible the team could open source its football technology, allowing fans to come up with applications for coaches and scouts with numbers provided by the team.” Most of the team's fan experience ideas “involve smartphones,” as York “looks forward to the ability to mobilize fans and increase crowd noise through apps or text messages.” Yu said that the plan is for the team’s new stadium in Santa Clara to "feature the option to use your smart phone to order food or merchandise, which would then be delivered to your seat” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/11).

LEARNING TO SHARE: In S.F., Ron Kroichick notes the “long-simmering idea of the 49ers and Raiders sharing a stadium remains stuffed in the background.” Kroichick: “It's time both teams set aside their pride, listen to their practical side and seriously talk about making this happen.” In a “perfect world, the Raiders would build a stadium in Oakland, ideally where the Coliseum sits.” But it is “wildly illogical to even contemplate building two outrageously expensive NFL stadiums in these economic times,” as cost estimates for the 49ers' project “have soared north of $1 billion.” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the league is “open to contributing $200 million to a new Raiders stadium, as it did for the 49ers." But Kroichick writes it is “hard to picture that really happening” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/11).
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