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paidContent - All-Sports Directory Fanbase Launches With $5 Million In Funding

This story was written by David Kaplan.

With sports sites continuing to grow in popularity, Fanbase, a new community site that has the ambitious aim of covering all teams and players from the pro to college player and everything in between, has launched with $5 million, the NYT and Venturebeat reported. The site has been in the works for about 18 months, co-founder by Nirav Tolia said, and is funded by Benchmark Capital.

As Venturebeat notes, Tolia previously headed up reviews site Epinions—and was sued by Epinions’ founders in 2005 of conspiring with some of the company’s board and investors of misleading them on the company’s financial matters and lying about his educational and work background. The suit was eventually settled by Epinions’ parent eBay (NSDQ: EBAY). Tolia says that he’s learned from his mistakes and is ready to try again. The funding comes from Benchmark Capital, which also backed Epinions. Tolia joined Benchmark two years ago as “entrepreneur in residence,” after leaving Epinions in 2004.

In any case, Fanbase is launching with considerable coverage. According to a post on the company’s official blog, it exits beta testing with details of 1,741,397 college and pro athletes and 20,723 teams across 23 sports. The site, which was in beta since July, says its gotten more than 60,000 contributions from its members.

The most famous athletes’ pages feature YouTube videos, with all the articles are authored by fans. As for getting the granular details on athletes who were on, as the NYT cites, for example, the 1991 University of Pennsylvania womens lacrosse team, Fanbase has uploaded thousands of team media guides over the last year. The company hopes that eventually, former team members and devotees will add their own personal touch as well.

Fanbase is betting on advertisers being attracted to a large audience—it claims 500,000 uniques already. It hopes to continue to draw and grow that audience by letting users purchase and market custom team merchandise, of which Fanbase takes a cut.

By David Kaplan

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