Courtesy photo
Hookit co-founders RJ Kraus and Scott Tilton.

Courtesy photo Hookit co-founders RJ Kraus and Scott Tilton.

Earlier this month, San Diego-based Hookit announced it has been acquired by New York City-based KORE Software. The deal combines the two biggest players in the sports industry’s so-called ‘spontech’ space.
 
Hookit is the industry leader in data analytics of sports sponsorships, using its proprietary AI-driven platform to track social media of around 500,000 entities – pro athletes, teams, event properties, celebrities, influencers, etc. – to quantify their value for the brands that sponsor them.

 
Hookit clients include the world’s biggest brands like Nike, Red Bull, Audi, Rolex, Nissan, Master Card and Visa.

 
Hookit co-founder and CEO Scott Tilton called the acquisition by KORE “completely synergistic” because both companies are focused on sports sponsorships, sports marketing and engagement marketing.

 
“They come at it as a CRM platform and work with about 850 teams and leagues,” Tilton said. “They have a majority of the big five mainstream sports in the states – 85-90% of all the teams use them. So we’re both tackling kind of the same problem from two different angles so we’re by far the two biggest players in this space.”  


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Jason Fletcher CEO KORE Software

KORE CEO Jason Fletcher agreed, stating: “This is a monumental step forward for our market. We are stronger together and are excited to start this journey with a partner like Hookit.”

 
KORE also announced that it acquired SSB’s pro sports businesses – about 50 clients – as that company shifts its focus to the collegiate athlete space.

 
With these new acquisitions, KORE will serve nearly 1,000 sports properties, 20,000 athletes, and over 100 of the top global brands.  

 
Social Media Spontech

 
Hookit was founded in 2001 by Tilton and co-founder RJ Kraus. Early on, the company was a CRM platform for brands to manage their athlete programs.
 But when social media exploded about a decade ago, Tilton and Kraus saw a huge opportunity to track what athletes, teams and leagues were doing on social media.

“At the time, no one was doing that for sponsorship value,” Tilton said.  


So Hookit pivoted the business in 2012 to put all its emphasis on tracking sponsorships to ensure brands are getting valuable ROI.

 
Today, Hookit’s proprietary software ingests 50 to 100 million social media posts per month, analyzing how brands are promoted by their sponsors through hashtags, images of logos and product placements on Faebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.

 
Social media engagement is of growing importance to brands as television viewership declines. According to Hookit data, television viewership of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 was down 40% over the 2016 Olympics in Rio; and this year’s opening ceremony in Beijing was down 63%.

 
According to Hookit’s data, social media engagement’s “massive” reach includes the following stats:

 
Athletes, teams and leagues reach 29 billion followers (more than the global population). Collectively, they posted 19.9 million times in 2021 across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Tiktok.  


They generated 92 billion engagements (likes, comments, shares) and 218 billion video views.  


Brands were promoted in 37% of that content.  

 
Cristiano Ronaldo is by far the most followed and engaged athlete on the planet, with 650 million followers, which is more than the top 1,500 NFL players combined at 641 million.  


“Our goal is to track the whole sports landscape,” Tilton said, adding that some brands will sponsor around 25 athletes and a brand like Nike will sponsor upwards of 12,000.  


A Good Deal

 
Titlon said under the terms of the acquisition, he and Kraus will continue to run Hookit and all 45 employees – mostly located in San Diego plus a few located in other U.S. regions and a few in Europe – will also stay on.

 
“We’re going to continue running our platforms, our roadmap – really focusing on the brand side of the desk and continue to grow that side of the business.
 There are a tremendous amount of cross-sell and up-sell opportunities because our data is all very relevant to their teams and leagues as well,” Tilton said. “The two of us coming together is going to really serve the industry well. We look at it as it’s a $150 billion market when you look at what brands are spending on sponsorships and activations and just their involvement in sports. It’s a huge category that’s very underserved from a measurement perspective.”
 
Although the terms of the deal with KORE are confidential, Tilton said Hookit had previously raised $20 million in total and the exit amount of the acquisition was “significantly in excess of that.”


Hookit
Founded: 2001
Headquarters: San Diego
Employees: 45
Business: Data analytics for sports sponsorships
Website: 
www.hookit.com
Notable: Hookit’s proprietary software ingests 50 to 100 million social media posts per month.