July 15, 2008

BallHype Acquired by Future US In Attempt to Join Big Leagues

After 18 months of progressing beyond the rookie stages of product development, Ballhype, the sports story discovery, submission and voting site, announced this morning that they have been acquired by Future US, a San Francisco-based media company. The purchase, for an undisclosed amount, enables the company's properties, including BallHype and a sister site, ShowHype, focused on entertainment news and gossip, to continue, but with a partner to help increase their monetization as traffic and engagement grows.

As an early Ballhype user in the first half of 2007 (See: Hype It Up: Ballhype Is Here to Change the Game), the site quickly became a go-to for me in terms of finding the best sports news from around the blogosphere, without being married to the front page of ESPN. More than just a news discovery site, BallHype also offered community engagement through votes, comments, and contests, for game predictions and tournaments, like March Madness.

By October, the husband and wife team of Jason and Erin Gurney, saw the growth BallHype had delivered, and pointed their knowledge to Hollywood's glitz, with ShowHype (See: ShowHype Connects Hollywood With Silicon Valley Geekery)

When my wife and I met with Jason and Erin during a viewing of the NBA All-Star Game festivities at their home this last year, they told me despite its later start, ShowHype's traffic eventually eclipsed that of BallHype, soon becoming the primary driver of engagement, page views, and advertising. But the pair didn't want to reinvent the wheel again and again, making customized sites for the more mundane topics of technology, politics, or religion, choosing instead to keep focused on those things they themselves liked.

The purchase of BallHype by Future US shouldn't mean any dramatic changes for the pair of sites. They are still going to be running, and finding the best of the Web's news for sports and entertainment.

In an interview with AOL Sports' FanHouse, co-founder Jason Gurney said, "Our traffic had reached the point where it was substantial enough to prove the value of our model--but we weren't monetizing well, and didn't have enough resources to take advantage of some of the opportunities we saw."

The Gurneys built BallHype and ShowHype almost single-handedly, alongside some technical help, and partnership with other smart sports folks, including Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty, as well as advice from Gabe Rivera of Techmeme. The pair reside in the Bay Area with their two young children, a boy and a girl.

You can learn more about the acquisition on the official BallHype blog or at AOL Sports' Fanhouse.