Bumble has signed on to be the official jersey sponsor of the Los Angeles Clippers, becoming the 20th NBA team to take advantage of the 3-year pilot program. The female-led dating and networking app chose to align itself with the Clippers, in-part because of their reputation as a progressive organization; the team employs the league’s only female President of Business Operations (Gillian Zucker) and has several other women in key leadership positions. The Clippers will refer to the corporate logo on the front of the jersey as an “empowerment badge”, a symbol meant to promote gender equality and the advancement of workplace equality. The total value of the deal is said to be worth +/- $20 million.
Howie Long-Short: Unlike traditional dating apps, Bumble requires women to make the first move. Founder Whitney Wolfe Herd, launched the company in 2014 after claiming she was sexually harassed, stripped of her co-founder title and forced out of rival dating app, Tinder. Herd is no longer Bumble’s majority shareholder (Badoo owns 79%, Herd owns 20%), but she continues to run the company (26 million users) as CEO. Badoo (privately held) is reportedly seeking a sale that would value the company at $1.5 billion.
Fan Marino: Chelsea F.C. has the 2nd biggest jersey sponsorship deal (MANU) in the English Premier League, valued at over $275 million (5 years). How did they do it? They sent out an RFP to 33 companies, “appealed to the emotional side of CEOs” and initiated a bidding war. As a result, Yokohama Rubber (TYO: 5101) agreed to pay more twice the amount Samsung (SSNLF) had on the team’s previous deal.
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Fitbit (FIT) and Xiaomi (low-cost gadgets, China) sold more wearables than any other companies in Q3 (3.6 million units shipped), but both saw YOY sales declines (33% and 3%, respectively), as consumer demand gravitated from simple fitness trackers to multi-purpose smart watches. IDC Global Intelligence noted that sales of FIT’s new Ionic smartwatch ($300 retail) are off to an “encouraging” start, but that sales did not make up for the steep decline in its lower-priced wearables. Apple (AAPL), which placed 3rd in the quarter, grew sales 52% YOY; reporting 2.7 million smart watches shipped. Company sales were boosted by the September release of its Series 3 Watch, featuring LTE connectivity; enabling users to call, text and stream music without a phone.
Howie Long-Short: Samsung (OTC: SSNLF) President Young Sohn recently stated the company was looking to make a major acquisition within the digital health space, specifically within “preventive health and related technologies; leading some to believe the company could be looking to acquire Fitbit (FIT). Should SSNLF decide to acquire the wearables leader, expect FIT share prices to spike. Xiaomi Corp. remains private, but is contemplating an H2 ’18 IPO (Hong Kong the most likely destination); seeking a valuation of at least $50 billion. The company is pursuing a contrarian growth strategy; building 1,000 “Mi Home” stores (+/- 2x number of AAPL stores) by 2019, while targeting $10 billion in retail sales by 2021.
Fan Marino: Fitbit Labs, a research initiative designed to drive behavior change in FIT users, announced the upcoming launch (by end of 2017) of the Fitbit Mood Log; a clock style interface that will monitor mood, energy, physical activity, nutrition and sleep, observing patterns over time. The data collected will help users (and the company) to understand how one’s mental state effects their overall health and behavior. No athlete has done more for mental health awareness than NYG WR Brandon Marshall; you can read about his noble Project 375 organization, here.
Fitbit Is Back on Top of Wearables, But Apple Is Growing Faster
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