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Volume 20 No. 45
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Casey Wasserman joins the board of Stats LLC

Stats LLC has added Wasserman chairman and CEO Casey Wasserman to its board of directors, part of an ongoing effort to expand the Chicago-based sports intelligence outfit beyond its traditional base of licensed sports data.

Wasserman, also chairman of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, was brought onto the board primarily by longtime friend and colleague Brian Sheth, co-founder and president of Stats owner Vista Equity Partners. Wasserman is expected to aid the company as it seeks to develop more advanced analytics products and continues an international expansion that recently included opening a regional base in Ireland.

“I’m certainly a big believer in the importance of data and analytics, and I’m looking forward to being a resource for [CEO] Ken [Fuchs] as they look to expand and grow,” Wasserman said. “If it was just about licensing data feeds, there probably wouldn’t be as much interest or value for me being involved. But they’re moving in a number of really interesting directions.”

Wasserman is expected to aid Stats as it expands overseas.
There is no equity component tied to the appointment of Wasserman to the Stats board. Vista, also an investor in secondary ticket marketplace Vivid Seats, remains the company’s full owner.

The arrival of Wasserman follows a marked period of transition for the company, a veteran of the industry. After Vista purchased Stats in 2014, it bought up several other data and analytics companies including Automated Insights, Prozone and Bloomberg Sports. The rapid rise of rival data outfit Sportradar in the U.S. saw it take official relationships with the NFL, NBA and others away from Stats, and Fuchs arrived in late 2015 to replace ousted chief executive Gary Walrath.

Working out of a new headquarters in downtown Chicago and with a new brand identity and logo, Stats is now developing several advanced player analysis products that build off its base in motion tracking. Among them are measures around “ghosting,” in which software predicts what a player should have done instead of what he actually did, and “chalkboarding” involving sketch-based video retrieval to quickly analyze specific types of plays.

“We’re trying to change the culture and mission of what we are from a U.S. data company to a global technology company,” Fuchs said.

Stats has also begun to publish research papers on its website, similar to how technology giants such as Intel, Microsoft, Google and Facebook publish work they are doing in areas such as artificial intelligence.

“We’re looking to get validation on the science behind our efforts,” said Patrick Lucey, Stats director of data science, hired two years ago from Disney Research. “We have to be willing to put it out there for the community to see.”