||A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. (December 2013)|
|Slogan||Covering your teams better than anyone else|
|Owner||Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner)|
|Alexa rank||267; 89: United States (December 2013[update])|
Bleacher Report is an American digital media company based in San Francisco and covering hundreds of teams and sports around the world.
The company, also known as B/R, specializes in creating and curating content about trending news topics, with an emphasis on delivering opinion-oriented analysis and multimedia programming via varied content formats and mobile technologies.
Bleacher Report was acquired by Turner Broadcasting System (a subsidiary of Time Warner) in August 2012 for an undisclosed sum reportedly near $200 million. CEO Brian Grey has headed the company since July 2010.
Bleacher Report was founded in 2007 by David Finocchio, Alexander Freund, Bryan Goldberg, and David Nemetz—four friends and sports fans who had been high school classmates at Menlo School in Atherton, California.
Finocchio, Goldberg, and Nemetz remain at B/R as, respectively, Senior VP of Content and Product, VP of Revenue Strategy and Operations, and VP of Video and Business Development. Freund is no longer with the company.
B/R announced the completion of a round of Series A funding on the occasion of its public launch in February 2008. The undisclosed sum came from Hillsven Capital, Transcoast Capital, and Vimeo founder Jakob Lodwick.
Eight months later, in October 2008, B/R secured $3.5 million in Series B funding from Hillsven, Gordon Crawford, and SoftTech VC. A Series C round in December 2010, led by Crosslink Capital, netted an additional $10.5 million.
In August 2011, the company announced a $22 million growth round led by Oak Investment Partners, with participation from Crosslink and Hillsven. At the time, Oak general partner Fred Harman, a board member at both the Huffington Post and Demand Media, characterized the investment as a bet on B/R's ability to keep pace with real-time fan interest across all forms of social media.
The company named Brian Grey as its Chief Executive Officer in 2010. Grey came to Bleacher Report from leadership roles at Fox Sports Interactive Media and Yahoo! Sports, and was hired to oversee the organization's "strategic direction and day-to-day operation."
In the first year of Grey's tenure, B/R filled two more executive-level positions, adding Rich Calacci as Chief Revenue Officer and Drew Atherton as Chief Financial Officer. Calacci joined the company in May 2011; Atherton followed a month later in June.
Calacci had previously served as CBS Interactive's Senior VP of Sales. Atherton's most recent experience had been at Demand Media, where he was COO and CFO of the company's registrar services division.
B/R's sale to TBS was announced on August 6, 2012. Under the terms of the deal, Grey, Finocchio, Calacci, and CTO Sam Parnell all assumed official Turner Sports titles while retaining their management responsibilities at B/R.
In a press release announcing the purchase, Turner president of sales, distribution, and sports David Levy cited B/R's rapid growth and loyal user base as key factors in his company's decision to make a deal—and also alluded to the potential value of B/R's multimedia platform as an outlet for Turner's various video resources:
|“||As brand builders and content providers, we were attracted to Bleacher Report’s fast growth to a leading marketplace position and a valued consumer destination. The site will continue to innovate and provide users and sports fans with branded news and information. With our expansive digital rights and resources, Turner will further ensure Bleacher Report's continued growth and success.||”|
Forbes.com called Bleacher Report "one of the leaders" among sports startups "figuring out the digital space" in August 2011, noting the company's success in "providing publishing tools to all sorts of knowledgeable sports fans to report and express what they know." B/R was also named one of Time magazine's "50 Best Websites of 2011," and was picked by Adweek readers as 2011's "Best Sports Media Brand."
Early criticism of Bleacher Report stemmed from the network's initial commitment to an open-source publishing model. Such critiques cited the fact that all registered B/R users were permitted to publish articles on the site, arguing that so lax a policy...
- Resulted in a glut of low-quality content, which made it difficult for the network's readers to find credible coverage of their favorite teams and sports
- Tarnished the reputation of every writer associated with the B/R brand, which made it difficult for the network's more talented contributors to build loyal audiences
- Empowered unqualified writers without editorial oversight, which compromised the prestige and credibility of the sportswriting profession
Since abandoning the open-source model in 2010, B/R has been the subject of continued criticism for its exploitation of unpaid contributors, its blanket policy prohibiting writers from breaking their own news, and its high-volume production of low-quality, search-optimized slideshow content. These critiques found their strongest voice to date in an October 2012 SF Weekly article, in which tech columnist and entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa was quoted accusing B/R of "dumbing down of the web" with "custom-manufactured garbage." In December 2012, a lampoon article in The Onion played on the same themes.
Bleacher Report attempted to address the concerns of its early critics by making substantive reforms to its editorial and personnel policies in 2010 and 2011. These reforms were aimed chiefly at the mechanics of B/R's Writer Program, with an emphasis on enhancing quality and credibility by...
- Initiating a formal application process for all prospective writers, wherein only the top 20 percent of candidates earn the right to publish on the site
- Introducing educational resources for new and veteran writers, including the "B/R U" new-media training program
- Establishing a paid team of Lead Writers to headline the network's sport-specific writer communities
Although some detractors likened such changes to "to spritzing a little room deodorizer after leaving a steaming deposit in the toilet and failing to flush," Apart from a published rebuttal disputing the objectivity and accuracy of the October 2012 SF Weekly article, B/R has not mounted a substantive response to ongoing criticism of its contributor compensation structure, news-breaking policy, or search-optimization strategies.
In 2013, B/R hired National Basketball Association (NBA) reporter Howard Beck from the New York Times, widely considered the top newspaper in the United States. Beck was convinced by B/R that the company was on the verge of transforming its site.
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