The budding mobile-social network Sqor is about sports and nothing but sports. While social networks like Twitter and Facebook are much larger, Sqor prides itself on being a home for 1,500 professional athletes who can share and interact with dedicated sports fans.
And now it’s getting games.
And at the end of the month, Sqor plans to release its first lightweight social network games, including College Showdown, where you can predict what will happen in a game against other rabid fans.
The San Francisco-based Sqor has some big name athletes like former Green Bay Packers quarterback (and surefire pro football Hall of Famer) Brett Favre, a board member at Sqor who does special promotions on the network and chats with fans through social messages on their mobile devices. Athletes are able to publish material, like short messages or videos, with ease.
“Sports is a global language,” said Brian Wilhite, the chief executive of Sqor. “Coming off the World Cup, we all got to see how impactful the global sporting event can be. What we are tapping into is the mobility and ease of participation in these events. You used to sit and watch. Now you can participate and be part of the content creation. We are right in the middle of this explosion of participation. We can touch every sports fan in the world.”
Wilhite is betting that the combination of unique content from athletes and the sticky fun of games will help Sqor stand apart. It will need that help, as it will ultimately compete for the attention of fans with traditional sports networks like ESPN or ABC Sports. For the month of August, Sqor will have about 500,000 unique visitors. That’s not much, but it has been doubling every month.
The potential is huge, as the 1,500 athletes on Sqor can collectively reach more than 25 million fans through all of their social networks. Sqor hopes to take a greater and greater share of that social audience.
“We have no politics, no food,” Wilhite said. “It’s all around sports. Our athletes take video and share it. Before a big event, they’ll make exclusive comments and publish it to their audience. It’s inside talk, right before the event or after it.”
“Sqor delivers the most entertaining content publishing platform for athletes in digital sports,” Favre said in a statement.
As for the games, they keep the fans coming back. They notify if one of their teams is about to play or has scored. The games will include college football, the NFL, UFC, NBA, and MLB.
“Gamifying even the most mundane platforms seems to work,” said Wilhite. “It’s a natural fit for us. We’ll have really simple, lightweight ways to play against others on the platform. Sports is naturally entertaining and competitive.”
With the College Showdown, you can vote on team match-ups and events, competing with friends to get badges and trophies. If you can get an athlete to follow you, you can get a badge. The games can add more daily engagement.
From the athletes’ view, Sqor is akin to a LinkedIn for the pros. Favre will do promotional activities, like visiting a college town and spending a day with its team. Sqor has created something called AthleteSqor, which uses a proprietary algorithm to measure the relative value of an athlete’s internet persona. It identifies the best athletes for certain kinds of promotional opportunities. That kind of measurement is valuable to brands that want to sponsor athletes.
Sqor packs a lot of different things into one platform, including editorial, athlete-generated commentary, and user-generated content. One popular post came from an UFC athlete, who posted an X-ray of his broken toe from the hospital after a fight.
“Fans are going to come because Sqor is the place where athletes are going to release exclusive content,” Wilhite said.
Sqor has about 25 employees. It has raised $3 million in private funding to date. Rivals include Sportslobster and The Whistle.
Wilhite was an investment banker before he started Sqor in 2011. He always dreamed about becoming a professional baseball player. He’s an Ironman athlete, a father of four, an avid skier, a small wave surfer. But he wants more time for sports.
“Is this more fun than investment banking? Yeah, by a lot!” he said. “It’s more challenging. It’s rewarding and fun. It fun to see the team grow and take my original vision to a whole new level.”