Aussie AI sport analytics startup Gameface.AI has been acquired by listed sports equipment giant Slinger Bags, in a deal worth almost $33 million.
Founded in 2015 by Jalal Shaik and James Melvin Ebenezer, Gameface.AI uses AI and machine learning technology to instantly analyse footage of sports, providing insights and analysis on a match or performance.
A graduate of the Startmate accelerator in 2017, Gameface.AI currently caters to soccer, cricket and basketball, and has partnered with Cricket Australia to provide in-game tracking.
Slinger will acquire 100% of the business in exchange for 6.6 million shares of Slinger’s common stock, plus up to US$3.5 million ($4.8 million) subject to earning considerations.
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In total, the transaction values Gameface.AI at US$24 million ($32.9 million).
Gameface.AI co-founder and chief executive Jalal Shaik said he is “thrilled” with the acquisition.
“When we first started, we did not plan to build AI for sports analytics,” he tells SmartCompany.
“It was more of a media, entertainment and shopping app.
After pitching every VC and investor he could get onto, he finally secured a small amount of funding, and honed the product offering, he explains.
“From then on we believed we could make something in the sports analytics space. We were in a very niche industry and especially when AI was just getting started.”
With “a bit of luck” and word of mouth spreading through the sporting community, the business has been seeing “steady progress” Shaik says.
“We did not raise a lot of money, and we ran a very lean team.
“All the credit goes to my amazing team who sacrificed cushy jobs and took huge pay cuts to get this far. Perseverance and persistence finally paid off.”
Since it was founded in 2015, the startup has been solely focused on finding new uses for AI in sports technology, Shaik explained in a statement.
The deal will allow the business to scale more quickly, and reach new customers and audiences.
“Slinger will now take what we have built to new levels and help us expand to meet the huge growth opportunities we see ahead,” he said.
“We believe that every athlete or coach should have access to high performance analytics that are relevant and meaningful to them. The time is now for the democratisation of high-performance coaching.”
Gameface.AI has already developed the AI capabilities for Slinger’s soon-to-be-released app, offering instant analysis of players’ techniques and offering technical and tactical insights and tips.
“We have been so impressed with the technology expertise and software development capabilities of the Gameface.AI team as part of their involvement in building out our Slinger app,” Slinger chief executive Mike Ballardie said in a statement.
Now, the business plans to build AI tech into some of its other software products for other sports.
“Gameface.AI’s core capabilities are delivered through any camera or phone, which allows us to build consumer-friendly and scalable solutions for the sports market,” Ballardie added.