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Fantasy Sports

Richard Sherman enters the fantasy sports game

The cornerback says move as brand ambassador and co-founder of new app Daily Number is a unique opportunity

Fantasy sports was hot and heavy when FanDuel saturated the market in 2009 and DraftKings emerged in 2012. Now there’s a new app in the pool. San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman recently announced his role as brand ambassador and co-founder of a new daily fantasy sports (DFS) app, Daily Number.

Sherman wants to change the game of fantasy sports and enhance his portfolio.

“Daily Number is a game changer,” Sherman said in a release. “I’ve been pitched numerous DFS opportunities, but nothing has even come close to comparing to Daily Number. I’m extremely excited to be a founding partner and look forward to playing an active role in helping the company grow during this very dynamic time in our industry.”

As a daily fantasy sports player himself, Sherman told The Undefeated his decision to become involved was a unique opportunity.

“Opportunity is important. But also, I’m focused on the future right here … what I’m going to be doing outside of this game, and on my next walk of life, whenever that may be. I think that’s something that more and more players are focusing on these days.”

“Obviously, fantasy sports have grown exponentially. To get involved with something that’s more proprietary gives people an opportunity to change your lineup to play against the target score and not really worry about playing against a friend, or that the quarterback is not doing great this week and you’re stuck with him all season,” Sherman said. “I thought it would be unique to set up a unique way for people to have a chance at winning some prizes.”

In Daily Number, there are no salary caps and users have control over their prize as they play to reach a target score. It uses proprietary algorithms that analyze and determine the target score, matchups and star rating per player. The Austin, Texas-based firm will offer the paid contests to iOS users in 23 states.

Sherman’s expectations of the company are that the app will grow and expand quickly.

“I would like this to be something that would be around for a long time,” Sherman said.

Sherman was selected in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks, with whom he spent seven seasons. The Super Bowl champion signed a three-year deal in March with the San Francisco 49ers. As an athlete in Silicon Valley, he joins the ranks of others finding new business endeavors.

“Opportunity is important,” Sherman said. “But also, I’m focused on the future right here … what I’m going to be doing outside of this game, and on my next walk of life, whenever that may be. I think that’s something that more and more players are focusing on these days.”

The collaboration between Sherman and Daily Number was natural. Tom McAuley, co-founder and chief executive officer of Daily Number, said the organization’s head of business development had known Sherman’s agent, Mitch Eisenstein, for quite some time. After Sherman introduced the game to Eisenstein in its beta state, his interest grew.

“Not surprisingly, Richard wanted to do something more in-depth and hands-on with the company and the space,” McAuley said. “I think he kind of recognized that we shared a similar DNA to him in a sense that we’re kind of blazing our own path.”

McAuley wasn’t looking for “traditional celebrity endorsement-type partnerships.”

“We wanted a real integrated and serious partnership with whoever the athlete or celebrity was that we were going to try to engage as the face of the franchise,” he said. “Given all that and given where Richard [Sherman] just moved in the Bay Area, obviously, a lot of VC [venture capital] tactics going on there, potentially kind of looking beyond what’s next in his career, it just was kind of perfect timing.”

McAuley explained that Daily Number differs from other DFS apps, specifically FanDuel and DraftKings.

“In Daily Number, it is not peer-to-peer,” he said. “The objective of the game is that you are playing against a set target score. So for Week 1 in the NFL, our current target score is 120 fantasy points. The goal is you have a seven-player roster come in, pick any seven players that you want, and the only objective is score more than 120 fantasy points. If you score 130 fantasy points, you’re going to win a prize; if you score 110 fantasy points, you’re not going to. The last thing as we sort of rolled it out and started playing it, we realized that it’s way more engaging during the live games, because in DraftKings and FanDuel you’re up against hundreds of thousands of other entries, and mostly it’s not that the everyday players play because they’re going for big prizes, and when you’re watching it, you figure out how many points he’s got.”

A successful entrepreneur, McAuley founded Hubstar, a VC-backed sports media company that is changing the way fans engage with live sporting events, in 2014. Hubstar’s flagship product, Realtime Brackets, has partnered with the likes of CBS Interactive, SB Nation and Sporting News and been sponsored by major national brands such as Reese’s & 5-hour Energy.

He wants players to walk away from the app with a fun experience.

“I think we just created something that’s really for sports fans and it’s an entertaining product,” he said. “We’re going to continue every day to try to make our experience even better and more fair and catered to our players.”

McAuley believes Sherman’s leap into partnering with venture capitalists is a smart business move.

“Richard’s a very unique individual. He’s checked the box for us in a lot of areas. From a fundamental basis we launched what I’m thinking is the greatest daily fantasy sports product that’s been built. … Beyond that, we weren’t looking for something where we just slap an athlete or an endorser’s face on something. We were looking for a partner that would really embrace the opportunity to get in at the earliest stage and help us grow our company.”

Kelley Evans is a general editor at The Undefeated. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.