Sports equipment and tech company Slinger has agreed to acquire video capture and analysis firm PlaySight Interactive as it builds a multilevel subscription offering, with tennis players top of mind.
Slinger’s (OTCQB: SLBG) first product was the Slinger Bag, a portable ball launcher introduced last year. But the company’s acquisition targets have highlighted its broader ambitions. Last month, Slinger announced an agreement to buy sports AI provider GameFace.AI for $24 million in stock. The PlaySight deal will cost an estimated $82 million in stock and additional considerations (with Slinger likely issuing roughly 28 million shares to existing PlaySight stakeholders), no small outlay for a company with a current market cap of roughly $125 million.
“Sports technology is playing a big part in the development of athletes,” Slinger CEO Mike Ballardie said in an interview. “I just see that becoming more mainstream over the next few years, and PlaySight provides a pretty unique leg in terms of how to build that out.” With an eye on the Pelotons of the world, Ballardie sees the chance to combine hardware and software in a subscription for athletes of various levels.
“We are building a 360-degree platform of products and services to meet the needs of our tennis consumers today, and for other major sports over the next few years,” he said in a statement.
PlaySight Interactive, founded in 2010, uses cameras to stream, record and analyze performances, primarily in tennis, though it has also been used in baseball, soccer, basketball and other sports. Billie Jean King and Novak Djokovic are among its investors. In 2018, SoftBank Ventures Korea and Hong Kong-based CE Ventures joined a $21 million Series C funding round for the company, which was founded in Israel.
“I believe that Slinger is the right company to take our technology platform to new heights in tennis and our other key sports,” PlaySight Interactive cofounder and CEO Chen Shachar said in a statement. “Slinger is very well-positioned to further commercialize PlaySight’s technology and drive even more meaningful value for athletes, coaches, teams, fans and the entire sports market.”
Ballardie said Slinger, based in Baltimore, will market PlaySight setups to the U.S.’s 17,000 tennis clubs and will roll out a mobile capture version of its technology that individual players can use via their phones starting early next year. He plans to refocus the tech on the company’s main sports, starting with tennis, though Slinger has also announced plans for baseball and softball products.
“We want to come back and really own sports tech for tennis,” he said, adding that PlaySight could license some of its tech to companies interested in other sport functions. “All of the applications that we’ll pioneer in tennis will be applicable to the other sports as we go forward.”
As it expands, Slinger will also rely on the Foundation Tennis platform it acquired this summer, which provides business services to tennis clubs and has registered more than a million players since launching in 2017. Slinger started with a Kickstarter campaign in 2018.
“I just see a huge amount of added value to consumers through what this group of companies can bring,” Ballardie said.