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Volume 7 No. 129

People and Pop Culture

Danna Rabin has been the CEO of HEED since July '17.
Photo: HEED

DANNA RABIN is the CEO of technology company HEED, a joint venture between AGT Int'l and Endeavor. The company's first consumer release took place in April as part of a partnership with the EuroLeague, whose playoffs concluded last weekend. In addition to the EuroLeague, HEED has partnerships with Professional Bull Riders and UFC. Rabin, who has been the CEO of HEED since July '17, was previously COO of media and technology company Vocativ from '14-17 and chief of staff and president of new initiatives at AGT Int'l from '12-14. She spoke to SBD Global about how HEED stands out from other social media platforms and tech firms, other leagues the company is eyeing and her favorite sports.

On how HEED compares to its competitors ...
Danna Rabin: It's a new category. There are a lot of elements of what we do that are being done by other companies. For example, when you watch the MLB or any sport, you can definitely see a lot of data and statistics. ... But there is no one who is providing the end-to-end experience, as we see it, in terms of the storytelling on one platform that hosts everything for one single live sports event experience.

On the type of leagues HEED is looking to partner with in the future ...
Rabin: We are targeting soccer as another sports category that we are really keen on launching this year. We are currently in discussions with a few clubs and leagues for soccer. We are also targeting other leagues which are targeting the younger audience and providing a variety of live sports events. We are in discussions with those leagues as well. 

On how HEED will measure its success ...
Rabin: Our success factors for the upcoming year are to launch disruptive and innovative live sport offerings for multiple sports categories, and start engaging fans around the world. Long-term success includes seeing millions and millions of users engaging with sports and other live events (e.g. concerts), while we continue to evolve and innovate HEED’s technology and experience, and open the platform for users and developers to reinvent new ways to experience live events with the HEED platform.

On the next big trend she is monitoring in sports media/technology ...
Rabin: Of course, it's Illuminated Reality by HEED. We define Illuminated Reality as a next-generation evolution of Virtual Reality. Instead of using technology to escape reality, HEED reveals the invisible truths contained within a live event moment and draws the fans deeper into reality.

On her favorite sports to watch and play ...
Rabin: I have been very athletic and was part of multiple national competitions when I was in my teens, mainly in gymnastics and running. So naturally, my favorite sports to follow through the years are the Olympic Games, including gymnastics, swimming and track and field events. I am also casually following the World Cup. However, since I started to get more closely familiar with additional sports as part of HEED, I have developed enormous curiosity and engagement about multiple sports including: basketball, hockey, soccer, surfing. Even sports that I had almost no knowledge of prior, I find them fascinating and entertaining, like MMA, bull riding and cricket.

On her favorite teams and athletes to pull for ...
Rabin: It's a challenging question for me, but since I moved to N.Y. nine years ago I have been following the [NBA] NY Knicks more closely, but more than teams, I follow individual athletes like the inspiring Serena Williams, Lionel Messi and others who have unique stories and passion.

Hangin' With runs each Friday in SBD Global.

Rugby Football League Chair BRIAN BARWICK was named chair of the board for the '21 Rugby League World Cup, replacing NIGEL WOOD. Former FA CEO Barwick chaired the successful bid for the tournament and has been a director of the tournament since its inception. He will play a role in "ensuring the tournament achieves its targets" (LOVE RUGBY LEAGUE, 5/24). ... Octagon "strengthened its European operation and France business" with the appointment of SAM PRIMAUT as managing director of the agency’s marketing businesses in France. Primaut brings 20 years of industry experience, and "will work in close collaboration" with Octagon’s European network, which includes FRUKT, ITB and Futures Sports & Entertainment. Prior to Octagon, Primaut was "responsible for business development at the French Tennis Federation" (SPORT INDUSTRY, 5/24). ... Lagardère Sports named Ascendent President & CEO BOB BRENNFLECK SVP/commercial. He will report to Exec VP/Commercial MARC RICCIO and be based in the agency's U.S. HQ in N.Y. (Lagardère Sports). ... La Liga side Sevilla named JOAQUÍN CAPARRÓS its new sporting director. He had been the club's interim manager since April (MARCA, 5/24).

COACHES/MANAGERS: Serie A side Bologna reportedly sacked coach ROBERTO DONADONI. The club, which ended the season 15th in the standings, has not issued an official statement regarding the former Italy national team coach. Donadoni joined Bologna in '15 on a contract which was due to expire at the end of the '18-19 season (REUTERS, 5/24). ... La Liga side Real Sociedad named ASIER GARITANO its head coach. He signed a two-year deal (AS, 5/24).

Former IndyCar champion GIL DE FERRAN is undertaking an advisory role with the McLaren team that covers Formula 1 and a potential IndyCar project. De Ferran was brought in to advise driver FERNANDO ALONSO over the course of his Indy 500 program last year and, after attending this year's Bahrain GP, the Brazilian agreed to a new role with McLaren (MOTORSPORT, 5/24). ... EPL side Everton forward WAYNE ROONEY held talks in Washington, DC, with Major League Soccer side DC United on Thursday. The 32-year-old already agreed to a deal in principle with the club, "although he still has a year left on his contract at Goodison Park." The trip is understood to be a "fact-finding mission" (BBC, 5/24). ... Former French Open champion FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE remains on course for the main draw of this year's tournament, but EUGENIE BOUCHARD's "hopes were ended by injury in qualifying." Schiavone, who won the title in '10, overcame Canadian CAROL ZHAO 6-4 3-6 6-3, while '14 Wimbledon finalist Bouchard retired from her match against DALILA JAKUOPOVIC of Slovenia trailing 6-0, 2-1 (London DAILY MAIL, 5/24).