Bay Area Online Sports Media Startups Have a Good Day (SB Nation and Bleacher Report Get Funding)…ESPN Snubs Yardbarker

Its a rough economic climate right now and even a harsher time to raise money as a start up. That’s why I was pleased to see too somewhat similar companies to Yardbarker bringing in some rounds of funding today.

Bleacher Report (good friend Rory Brown just started work there) brought in a nice round of $3.5 million in a second round of funding led by Hillsven Capital amongt others. It was unknown how big Bleacher Report’s first round was, but Crunch Base lists their total funding now at $5 million.

In a nutshell Bleacher Report is a really well designed and functional website that allows users to participate in what they call “fan journalism”. If I had to compare it to something, I would maybe call it a more open FanHouse, but one that doesn’t recruit or pay writers. The writers are typically from what I gather people who love sports and writing, but do not want to start their own blog.

Their advertising is sold by Federated and they have content syndication deals with CBS and Fox Sports. Although online advertising is an industry with a volatile outlook, the CEO points out “as traditional news organizations cut back, there will be more room for fan journalism to step in and fill the gap.”

Also making waves was SB Nation, another Bay Area web 2.0 spots media company. SB Nation raised a round believed to be between 3-7 million dollars. The opportunity to invest in SB Nation brought an interesting group of investors to the table.

“Accel Partners, the Silicon Valley private equity firm best known for its backing of Facebook and led in part by Boston Celtics minority owner Jim Breyer. Additional funding came from Allen & Co.; AOL vice chairman emeritus and Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis; Brent Jones, former San Francisco 49ers player and now managing director of private equity firm Northgate Capital; former Yahoo! senior executives Dan Rosensweig and Jeff Weiner; and several executives from Providence Equity Partners, the venture capital shop where Bankoff remains a senior adviser.”

SB Nation is similar to us except that they own the blogs in their nation and are not as focused on community building via a central hub page. Bloggers are given a split of advertising revenue for becoming writer’s and am sometimes compensated for selling thier former blog to SB Nation to help funnel traffic to SB nation owned sites.

SB nation’s content is now syndicated on Brash.com and they also have their ad inventory sold by Federated.

Overall both moves are positive as 2 growing start ups bagged sizable rounds that will allow both companies to focus on growth and profitability.

Yardbarker also had a good day as Vernon Davis blogged about getting kicked off the field by new head coach Mike Singlatery. It was just as week ago when Vernon talked about his enthusiasm for having Singlatary as the new head coach.

Davis’ blog posts are a great example of why its beneficial to have a blog as a pro athlete. Vernon did something stupid and suffered some team, coach, and public backlash because of it. He wakes up the next day, blogs articulately explaining his situation and sentiment. The mainstream media picks it up and moves on. No interviews needed and no headache for the PR Director who I know.

Unfortunately though ESPN talked about this on NFL Live and read almost his entire blog without mentioning its a Yardbarker blog. Sometimes they do accredit us, but other times they have not and its kind of a mystery why they duck where this content comes from.

Today apparently they were extra coy.

From someone who is lucky enough to watch NFL Live during the day

“ESPN just did everything possible to avoid mentioning yardbarker while using the vd quotes……they said “from the espn morning roundup of athlete blogs”

Awww….the good old “ESPN Morning Roundup of Athlete blogs”…..

Where would one find this feature that you have discretely made up instead of doing the ethical thing and mentioning the content source?

Trying to make it sound like an interns daily responsibility of going to yardbarker.com and other athlete blogs is a daily feature that exists on your website is pretty bush league IMO.

Ben Koo

About Ben Koo

Copying and pasting my Twitter bio. I'm also refusing (for now) to write this in the third person. This is me - EIC and CEO at @comeback_sports and @AwfulAnnouncing, world's greatest chinese jew, proud Buckeye, funny dude, and sports and digital media zealot.

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