SBD/May 16, 2014/FinancePrint All
Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross’ FanVision is in talks to acquire YinzCam, which develops in-stadium apps for 25 NFL teams, as well as clubs in other leagues. A source said that the negotiations, which stem from settlement talks over a patent lawsuit Ross’ company filed in '12 against YinzCam, are nearing a close. NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy confirmed the league has scheduled a presentation for Tuesday’s owners meeting on FanVision/YinzCam. When Ross bought FanVision in '10, he expected it to quickly catch on in the NFL and presented personally to his fellow owners about the technology. FanVision rented or sold handheld devices at sporting events that showed replays and highlights, as well as offering stats. However, it quickly was overtaken by smart phone apps that offered similar features for free. Two years ago, Ross’ Kangaroo Media, which owns FanVision, sued YinzCam in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, alleging patent violations. YinzCam denied the charges. Settlement discussions began last year, and last month the two parties told the court they were close to a deal. The parties wrote to the court, “This agreement is tentative pending approval by YinzCam’s investors.” A source close to the talks said that what the investors are considering is an acquisition. YinzCam Founder & CEO Priya Narasimhan in an e-mail wrote, “Several companies have shown an interest in partnering with, and/or buying, YinzCam. Unfortunately, I cannot comment on any particular one.” RSE Ventures CEO Matt Higgins, who oversees Ross’ sports assets, declined to comment. It is unclear if NFL teams might have any concerns that a fellow owner controls their app developer, presuming the acquisition occurs. Many of the functions offered by YinzCam are key to the league’s efforts to get fans in the stadium by offering features that previously were only available at home, such as different camera angles.
The AP and Fox Sports on Thursday night announced that they have sold their joint holding in sports data services company Stats LLC to S.F.-based private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. Financial terms were not disclosed. Stats has steadily built a dominant profile within the data service industry since its formation in ’81, and more recently expanded into advance analytics such as player tracking through its SportVU holding. The AP and Fox put the company up for sale late last year, and bidding heated up in recent weeks. But the deal to Vista still arrived quicker than many observers had been expecting. Fox Sports President & COO Eric Shanks in a statement said, “It’s been a privilege to partner with the AP and .... help grow Stats into one of the most innovative sports technology and information companies in the world.” AP President & CEO Gary Pruitt similarly called the partnership with Fox “excellent and productive,” and both outfits will maintain existing business relationships with Stats to exchange content. Vista Equity Partners has more than $12B in committed capital in its portfolio, and its holdings include The Active Network, which manufactures software for participatory sports management. The Raine Group served as the financial advisor to the AP and Fox.