LOS ANGELES -- Shawn Green hit another home run with the Dodgers, which wouldn't have been big news 15 years ago when he set the single-season franchise record with 49 in 2001.But in 2016?This time, Green did it as a 44-year-old tech entrepreneur and founder of Greenfly, one of five
LOS ANGELES -- Shawn Green hit another home run with the Dodgers, which wouldn't have been big news 15 years ago when he set the single-season franchise record with 49 in 2001.
But in 2016?
This time, Green did it as a 44-year-old tech entrepreneur and founder of Greenfly, one of five already successful startups that have received investments from the Dodgers Accelerator Program, a partnership with R/GA that utilizes the Dodgers brand and organizational reach to help young companies grow quickly.
The program's four other selected partner companies this year are: Keemotion, which enables partners such as leagues and universities to unlock video content through automated game production; Renegade Brands, which developed technology to remove stubborn stains and odors from sports apparel; ShotTracker, which captures real-time basketball analytics through sensors embedded in balls and shoes; and WSC Sports, which creates personalized sports highlight videos automatically.
The five companies were selected from 700 applications from 40 countries, Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten said. But Greenfly, which transforms the relationships of organizations into networks for content creation, is the only one founded by a former All-Star, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner.
This week, Green's Greenfly announced a $6.2 million round of financing from venture capitalists, led by Iconica Partners, but also including the Dodgers owners through their Elysian Park Ventures and Mandalay Sports Media.
The investments, combined with the resources provided by the Dodgers Accelerator Program, will allow the company to scale and address new markets beyond current partnerships that already include UFC, NFL, PGA and NASCAR.
"The Dodgers have always been one of the most innovative sports franchises in the history of our country, going back to Jackie Robinson," said Green. "The different things they've done for the sport and for our culture are pretty amazing, and I see them onto a similar type of shift here from a technology standpoint."
Green said he always had a passion for technology. When he retired, Green had two goals: The first was to write a book, which he did ("The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 mph"). The second was to develop a successful company, which he began by recruiting a student to write the code for a pilot website. Two years ago, Green's cousin, Daniel Kirschner, left his senior vice president role at Activision Blizzard to be Greenfly's CEO.
"Now I'm doing something I'm passionate about and I have someone a lot smarter than me to steer it and create an actual business of it," Green said. "This has legs to it, it's getting a lot of traction. Everyone using it is seeing great results and it's really rewarding for me to have big organizations that startups would kill to get to, become a part of it."
A big organization, like the Dodgers.
In their worldwide search for self-sufficient companies just needing the resources and reach of the brand to win their space, Dodgers CFO Tucker Kain said they found one in their backyard, the Santa Monica-based Greenfly, run by a "family" member in Green.
"In talking to Shawn early on about what he was doing post-career, and we came to learn what an incredible entrepreneur he is, on top of being an incredible baseball player," said Kain. "We learned what he and Daniel were doing and trying to get done, compared notes and saw an overlap and opportunity to be collaborative.
"They found a way to light up the network of sports brands, and the variety of markets they are being pushed to is much wider than anybody thought, and it's a really exciting opportunity."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.